The yoga craze doesn’t seem to be losing steam because of its vast and long-term health effects: among other benefits, it creates lean muscle mass, facilitates healthy digestion and helps with balance and flexibility. According to a 20-year-long study performed by the Duke University Medical Center, practicing yoga can improve joint pain for persons suffering from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you suffer from the most common joint disorder, osteoarthritis, then yoga can alleviate the pain and stiffness in your joints. For people with muscle and joint tenderness as a result of fibromyalgia, or even people with the constant pressure around their forearm to their palm from carpal tunnel syndrome and want to avoid carpal tunnel braces, try out this quick yoga guide for joint problems.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Child’s pose is a basic relaxation pose that works well during a yoga practice if you start feeling tired, dizzy or need a break.
- How to: Get down on the ground with your hands, knees and shins on the floor. Slowly glide your buttocks back to your heels as you sit gently onto your heels. You may feel an easy stretch in your knees and quadriceps. Stretch your head toward the ground, aiming to connect your forehead to the ground. Your arms may naturally lay backwards alongside your legs or you may outstretch them forward past your head. Hold this pose for a few seconds.
- Joint friendly: Use a rolled-up blanket or a yoga block under your buttocks, so it separates your tailbone and your legs.
Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)
- Crocodile pose is another relaxation pose geared to trigger rest in your body after rigorous activity.
- How to: Lie stomach and face down on the floor with your hands rested at your sides. Stretch your legs and feet toward the back of the room as you cross your right arm to your left shoulder and your left arm to your left shoulder. Align your elbows into a stacked triangle position and rest your forehead in the triangle as you breath.
- Joint friendly: Turn your feet out at right angles to your legs and concentrate on breathing. This pose helps release vulnerable and tense tendencies in the joints.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
- Triangle Pose is performed on both sides of the body and has many variations to work multiple parts of your body.
- How to: Stand with your feet about a leg’s length apart and your legs with a slight ben. Turn your right foot to the right 90 degrees and slightly angle your left foot to the right about 45 degrees. Lift your arms and spread them out parallel to the floor while standing stretching your upper body straight to the ceiling. With your palms facing down, extend sideways to the right as far as you can. Then, drop your right arm toward your shin (or a yoga block place inside your right ankle). Extend your left arm vertically while your back gently twists. Be careful not to hyperextend your legs or over twist in this pose. Hold for 5 breaths and return to the starting position. Alternate sides.
- Joint Friendly: Make sure you don’t lock your knees and overextend the straight legs.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
- Tree pose is a variation of the basic standing mountain pose and focuses on balance and alignment of the lower body while toning lower extremity muscle. It is performed on both sides of the body.
- How to: Begin in mountain pose (standing with your feet together and your hands relaxed at your sides). Shift weight to your left leg as you bring your bent right knee to your inner left thigh. Your right toes should aim toward the floor with your right knee pointed to the right, opening up your hips. Extend your hands, in prayer position, up toward the sky. Hold for 20 seconds. Work to holding for 60 seconds. Alternate sides.
- Joint Friendly: Keep your left foot, hips and head aligned vertically and avoid twisting your body. Keep your left knee facing forward, without twisting.
Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
- Head-to-Knee pose helps stretch and strengthen the hamstrings while loosening up your hips, legs, knees and back.
- How to: Sit on the floor with your upper half upright and your legs spread out comfortably wide and straight. Place the bottom of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Slightly bend your left knee and realign your torso so that you are square. Bend forward over your extended left leg and relax your head onto the extended leg. Breath for as long is comfortable in this position and then switch sides.
- Joint friendly: Place a towel below your buttocks to help with tight hips. You can also use a towel to lasso around your extended foot if you cannot reach your foot comfortably when beginning.
Yoga is praised worldwide for its health and healing benefits and is practiced by more than 15.8 million Americans alone. It is often used as a non-aggressive way to exercise and strengthen muscles for those suffering injuries or joint pain; however, take caution to ensure you listen to your body’s strain and warning signs and do not push into a pose too far. Pay special attention if you use carpal tunnel braces or other support braces before beginning an exercise program. Beyond beginning to incorporate yoga postures into your joint strengthening program, hot and cold therapy is recommended as a complement for minor discomfort.
Note: this information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a medical professional, or to diagnose or treat any condition.
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