Yoga for Arthritis: Poses for Physical Comfort
While there isn’t a cure for arthritis, there are treatment plans that can help limit your pain. Medicines and certain exercises are just a couple of ways to ease your arthritis symptoms. Another method you can use to soothe your joint pain is yoga. Medical experts have been studying how people can use yoga for arthritis pain. Keep reading to find out which yoga poses can help provide physical comfort while you’re dealing with arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Even though there are different types of arthritis, the most common form of it is osteoarthritis.1 This disease describes the wear and tear of specific bones and joints, such as your hands, hips and knees.1 When you’re dealing with osteoarthritis, your cartilage, or the tissue that protects your joints and bones, breaks down.1 The bones under your cartilage begin to change as this break down occurs.1 Osteoarthritis can worsen over time. You may experience pain, stiffness and swelling as this form of arthritis gets worse.1 The pain can make it harder for you to complete your daily tasks.1
What Is Yoga?
There are ways to ease arthritis pain and complete your daily tasks. Yoga is one of the activities you can use to help soothe your joints and bones.2 You can do yoga at home, in your backyard, at a local park, in a yoga studio or anywhere you can place your yoga mat. Yoga is an ancient practice that can promote your spiritual, physical and mental well-being.2 It combines physical poses, focused breathing techniques and meditation.2 There are different levels of yoga based on the complexity of poses, but no matter if you’re a novice or an expert, some of these poses can help the arthritis pain you’re feeling.
Benefits of Yoga on Your Bones
Yoga is a joint-friendly physical activity that doesn’t put stress on your body.3 It has a lower risk of injury than high-impact exercises, and it can help you manage your arthritis pain along with other health conditions you may be dealing with, like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.3 Other benefits of yoga for arthritis include the following:2,3
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve flexibility and ease joint stiffness
- Improve balance and decrease risk of falling or having difficulty walking
- Help relieve lower back pain, neck pain and knee-joint pain
Which Yoga Poses Help with Arthritis?
If you’re a novice, you may want to try yoga with a professional first to make sure you’re doing the poses correctly.4 Your healthcare provider can also tell you if you have any limitations on how you should stretch.4 Once you get the clear from your healthcare professional, you and the yoga instructor may want to try some of the following poses to see how they impact your arthritis pain.4
The forward fold pose is where your body is practically folded in half horizontally.4 To try this pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight evenly distributed in the middle of your feet.4 Slowly bend forward at the hips as you lower your head down and arc your spine .4 Relax your head and let your upper body hang from the hip hinge without tension.4 Make sure your knees don’t lock while you’re in this pose.4 You can place your hands behind your back or hold your opposing elbows to make sure you’re not adding tension in your back and neck while in the forward fold.4
You can try the cobra pose lying belly-down on the floor or by leaning face-forward on a wall.4 If you’re trying this position on the floor, lie facedown with the tops of your feet resting on the floor.4 Place the palms of your hands flat on the floor by your chest.4 Lift your head, neck and chest off the floor.4 Keep your hands, feet and legs on the floor and your arms by your side while you’re lifting the rest of your body.4 If you want to try this pose standing up, keep your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart while facing a wall.4 Place your hands flat on the wall with your elbows by your chest.4 Try to push your head, neck and chest away from the wall while keeping the rest of your body in the same positions.4
You’ll start the side angle pose while standing with your feet apart, roughly as far as your hands can extend to your sides.4 Put your right foot at a 90-degree angle and your left foot at a 45-degree angle.4 Bend your right knee over the toes on your right foot.4 Place your right elbow comfortably on your bent knee.4 Take your left arm and stretch it over your left shoulder, reaching past the left side of your head.4 Make sure you’re elongating your fingers as well.4 Once your left arm is fully extended, you may notice that it’s diagonally aligned with your straightened left leg and perpendicular to your left foot that’s still flat on the floor.4 Make sure you’re not pushing your hips or shoulders forward while practicing the side angle pose.4 Switch the angles of your feet, your elbow placement and arm extension when trying this pose on your left side.4
Extended Leg Balance
You may want to stand near a wall or a sturdy chair when trying the extended leg balance pose.4 Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor and place your right hand on the wall or chair for support.4 Slowly bend your left leg and lift it near the height of your hip.4 Place your left hand on your bent knee for additional support.4 Turn your bent knee outward while your leg is still lifted.4 Make sure your right hip is vertically aligned with your straight leg’s knee and ankle so that you can keep your balance.4 If you want to try the extended leg balance with your left leg, switch the positions and placements of this pose.4
Seated Spinal Twist
You’ll need a chair or a flat surface to sit on when trying the seated spinal twist position.4 Sit on the chair and extend your legs in front of you.4 Pull your right knee in toward you.4 Lift your foot up and cross it on the outside of your left leg.4 Challenge yourself to pull your lifted foot toward you so that it’s as close to your hip as possible.4 Wrap your left arm around your bent right knee so that you’re pulling your knee closer to you.4 Remember to maintain good posture by sitting up straight when trying this pose.4
These yoga poses can be used to relieve pain in your back, knees, ankles and fingers.4 If you’re not in a position to do yoga, there are over-the-counter products that can help temporarily relieve your arthritis pain, too. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel can help relieve arthritis pain in your hands, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and feet.* It’s a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that can be used to help ease arthritis pain.5 Along with Voltaren, there are at-home methods you can use so that living with arthritis doesn’t put a damper on your day.
*Voltaren gel can help with arthritis pain for hands, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and feet only. Voltaren is not indicated for use on back, hip or shoulder.
- Osteoarthritis (OA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm. Accessed 10/25/22.
- Yoga: What You Need to Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed 10/25/22.
- Physical Activity for Arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/physical-activity-overview.html. Accessed 10/26/22.
- Yoga Poses for Arthritis Patients from Johns Hopkins. John Hopkins Arthritis Center. https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/yoga-poses-for-arthritis-patients-from-johns-hopkins/. Accessed 10/26/22.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs-nsaids. Accessed 10/26/22.
How to Relieve Arthritis Pain
You can take control of symptoms in a few ways: by exercising daily, eating healthy, and using hot or cold packs. Taking these lifestyle tips into consideration can help make life a little easier.
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