How to keep your joints healthy (yoga for arthritis)

yoga for arthritisWhether you actually have been diagnosed with arthritis or just find yourself with sore joints after a day of too much computer time, it’s important to regularly strengthen and stretch you joints to keep them nice and healthy.  Too much repetitive movement, no movement at all, and general stress can all make you joints sore and weak.  Once they feel like that, your first instinct may be to rest or baby them but that’s just going to make the situation worse.  What your joints need is regular strengthening and stretching to ensure that they stay strong and lubricated.

I was first diagnosed with arthritis in my hands and wrists when I was in my early twenties.  It was quite a surprise as it all started when I mentioned to my general doctor that one wrist felt slightly weaker than the other.  That led to an MRI which led to meeting a few specialists and one big lifelong diagnosis.  At that time in my life my only form of exercise was the walking required to live in Manhattan and nearly all of the food that I consumed was in takeout form.  Over the following year I discovered that yoga and healthy nutrition did wonders for my achy hands and wrists.  I also realized that few yoga poses in particular, when done regularly, diminished nearly all of my arthritis symptoms.  These are the magic ones that I still, a decade later, keep in my routine for optimum joint health-

  • Seated wrist stretches (see image above).  Sit tall in any comfortable position and use one hand to stretch to other.  Gently pull one hand back (like the image above), then drop your hand down so that your fingers point down and palm faces you and stretch wrist the other way.  Switch hands.  Then roll your hands around and even vigorously shake them out if that feels good.
  • Downward dog.  Check out this post if you’re not too familiar with this one.  If this is too much on your hands and wrists right now, drop your knees and practice on your hands and knees.  With your hands shoulder width apart, spread all of your fingers as wide as you can and press down through all of your knuckles.  Really flatten your hands and fingers onto the ground as best as you can.
  • Hands and knees with moving hands.  Starting with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips, spread your fingers wide to make big hand prints on your mat.  Then turn your hands out to the sides with your thumbs pointing forward and your fingers pointing to the sides of your mat.  Take a few breaths here then turn your hands even further if you can.  The keep your fingers pointing in the same direction but flip your hands over so that you’re palms are up.  This is an intense one, so just see how it goes and work up to it.

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