We’ve all heard about the “glorious” effects of yoga (and if you haven’t, just stand in the checkout line at any health foods store – the magazine racks will practically scream it at you). While any orthopedist will tell you that routine stretching can indeed work wonders for tight muscles, little has been said about the orthopedic conditions that can benefit from yoga – until now.
Here’s a list of conditions that can benefit from yoga, and how it can relieve pain!
Which Conditions Can Yoga Benefit?
Arthritis. Osteoarthritis (inflammation of joints), is caused by degeneration of cartilage. When continuous pressure is put on the joints (due, among other causes, to wear and tear, injury, and being overweight), there is less lubrication. This results in stiffness and pain. Yoga can teach arthritis sufferers to stretch the joints, and increase circulation and mobility.
Sciatica. Aggravation of the sciatic nerve (the nerve that runs in your spine and legs) can be indirectly caused by pressure from bad posture and even arthritis. It follows, then, that routinely stretching the muscles surrounding the nerve can help. Yoga can encourage the production of lubrication and circulation around the injury that is causing the nerve pain in the first place!
Muscle Spasms. While sciatica and arthritis indirectly benefit from yoga, spasms are a different story. In fact, orthopedically speaking, it’s almost as if yoga was created for spasms! One of the top causes of spasms is muscle overuse. If you get regular spasms, learn to stretch and relieve your overworked muscles with yoga!
Yoga for Orthopedic Pain
Note: Before starting any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor. Improper form can do more harm than good. When you are sure that yoga is right for you, learn from a professional instructor!
First, a few definitions:
Orthopedics is the medical practice and study of the muscles, bones, and other tissue of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic pain, then, is pain of or arising from the muscles, tendons, etc.
Yoga, briefly defined, is the practice of uniting “spirit” and “body” through breath, meditation, and physical poses. Today, yoga is widely popular for its physical benefits.
For orthopedic pain, medical doctors will recommend treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and/or acupuncture. Of these, physical therapy (PT) comes closest to yoga (as a pain relief method). (PT is the practice of guiding recovery after an injury through physical exercise.)
How Yoga Differs from PT
While PT is performed by medically-trained therapists and backed by years of science, yoga is considered “alternative.” However, yoga can have just as much (and, some may argue, even more) healing effects.
In yoga, breath and mental state can have as much to do with combating pain as exercise. The orthopedic system is innervated with the circulatory, respiratory, and neurological systems. For this reason, yoga that incorporates all four systems can have pleasing results.
Yoga poses can loosen muscles and increase circulation, which help to reduce pain. Yoga for pain relief focuses on the entire body, teaching it, through strength-building poses and breathing patterns, to heal itself naturally. ◾
Comment with your favorite yoga pose!
Healthpointe offers care for injured workers, personal injuries, athletes, and more. For a list of locations, visit Healthpointe.net.