This article is the third in a 5-part series focusing on bone and joint health, pain prevention and treatments.
For those experiencing the telltale symptoms of hip arthritis — pain, stiffness, weakness and inflexibility — who may suffer while completing the most basic of movements, the thought of extended, prolonged stretches associated with yoga may be painful.
“Truly, movement is [an arthritis sufferers] remedy, and also the thing that they avoid,” Mankowski said.
Mankowski explained that yoga movements keep synovial fluid (a natural lubricant) moving through joints, which decreases feelings of stiffness. So while they may be painful initially, the pain may taper off as stiffness recedes.
And the benefits do not stop there.
By stretching the pelvis during yoga movements, tension in the joints is released and mobility is increased, which leads to greater overall fitness particularly help alleviate back, leg and hip pain and tightness, Mankowski said.
“By having more mobility you have greater efficiency in your movement,” she said.
Even if yoga is not your primary form of exercise, it can bolster the benefits of your other activities.
In part 1 of our joint health series, Dr. Gabriel Levi, an orthopedic surgeon at Swedish Covenant Hospital, explained that participating in low-impact exercise like swimming and using an elliptical can keep you in shape while sparing your hips from wear and tear that could lead to pain or injury.
As these movements can become repetitive, yoga can provide a needed change of pace for your joints and muscles.
“You don’t want to be doing the same thing with the same muscle groups all the time,” Mankowski said. “You want to balance out the muscle development and use.”
She has taught yoga for more than two decades and also works as a physical therapy assistant. When it comes to exercise, she has found that yoga works groups of muscles that you may not normally use. In doing so, the workout can restore balance to your mind, improve your physical balance and build strength that can give support to your joints.
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, Mankowski said that there’s a greater satisfaction that comes with the activity.
“With the movement and breath work that you get, and the stretching aspects of yoga, no matter what level it is, it creates a sense of renewal to one’s spirit or sense of well being.”
Think you do not have time for yoga between other workouts?
You are in luck. Just 20 minutes to an hour of yoga a week could make a big difference for people of all ages, Mankowski said.