Exercises for Arthritis

Yoga has been used very successfully in the treatment of arthritis.  Osteoarthritis in particular can be targeted with great results. The pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also subside with a regular, gentle yoga practice. Today we will focus on some common locations of arthritic discomfort.

The key to the success of any somatic or mind-body practice is the movement of the joints in their full range of motion. That is to say, we need to move the joints regularly in order to create increased circulation. This rotation also acts to coat the main joints of the body with synovial fluid, a lubricant which promotes comfort and ease of movement. Your yoga practice need not be vigorous -– gentle rotations are very effective.

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Arthritis - loosening the hands & wristsLet’s start with the wrists and hands.

First, open the fingers as wide as possible, holding for 30 seconds.
Then gently shake the fingers and hands at the wrists for a further 30 seconds.

Next, slowly rotate at the wrist joint creating smooth circles, first in one direction then in the other.

Continue this for about 30 seconds in each direction.

Now flex and extend the elbows, slowly until you feel the movement is occurring more easily.

Arthritis - loosening the neck & shoulders

Moving to the shoulders, roll the shoulders forwards, working slowly.
Continue for approximately 30 seconds and then change direction. Slowly roll the head around in a semi-circular motion.
Bring the chin down to the collarbone and gradually take it around to the other side. Reverse the movement.
Again, this should be done for about 30 seconds. Now jut the chin forward and slowly look up to the ceiling. Make sure to bring the chin forward first to protect the neck. Good. Now bring the left ear to the left shoulder, holding for 30 seconds, taking deep breaths as you go. Then reverse to the other side.
From a neutral standing position, slowly begin twisting the spine around and swinging the arms, first to one side then to the other.
You can build up momentum if you feel it’s appropriate or keep a slow and steady pace.
Complete approximately 10 twists to each side.
Arthritis - loosening the hipsNow to the hips.

Sitting comfortably in a chair, cross one ankle over the opposite knee.
Gently push the knee towards the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and change sides.
Complete twice for each hip and knee.

Be careful not to overstretch the knees; only take it as far as you feel is appropriate for you.
As the joints open up you will find these exercises easier.

Lastly, we will rotate the ankles. Simply rotate them in one direction for 30 seconds then change direction.
You can do this one ankle at a time or both at once if you feel like more of a challenge.

Artworks featured in this story are the work of artist Toni Carmine Salerno
More details are available on his website: http://www.tonicarminesalerno.com