Due to the numerous changes in our work, home life, and emotional state during this global pandemic, there are many people who are not moving and getting as much activity in their day as they are used to.
Many of us are experiencing stiff joints and tighter muscles increased pain and discomfort in our bodies. The impact on our health and well-being can be considerable. One such area that is prevalent is joint health. Today, I am going to talk about joints; what they are, their function, and how yoga can help keep them healthy.
A joint is part of your body where two bones meet. However, that’s not all that makes up a joint. You also have tendons (connecting muscle to bone), ligaments (attaching bone to bone across the joint), cartilage (for cushioning), and a fluid called synovial fluid (provides lubrication so parts of the joint do not rub together). Joints are responsible for movement and stability in our bodies. When our joints are healthy, moving freely through their natural range of motion, we may not even think about them as we go about our day-to-day activities. However, if you have ever had an injury, illness, or joint pain and stiffness then you know how drastically it can impact all aspects of your health.
When joints are healthy and injury-free, they move easily through a full range of motion. The available range of motion in our joints will determine how easily and comfortably we are able to engage in our day-to-day activities. Some examples of this are bending over to pick things up, reaching in the bottom cupboard, or putting on your shoes. Free-range of motion can help move through your day, improve your golf swing, or play on the ground with your children.
Here are 3 ways a physical yoga practice can contribute to your joint health:
Yoga Increases Your Range of Motion
We have already discussed that one of the primary functions of the joint is moved. Practicing the physical poses of yoga will have you regularly moving your joints through their full range of motion. This keeps them healthy, maintaining, or even improving your current range of motion, and can prevent injury or reduce pain and suffering caused by chronic pain and disease associated with the joints such as arthritis.
Yoga Builds Strong Muscles
Yoga strengthens muscles. Muscles are an integral component of joint health and movement. Strong muscle will alleviate stress and strain on a joint.
Yoga Helps to Circulate Synovial Fluid Inside Your Joints
Synovial fluid is the thick liquid that lubricates most joints and keeps them moving smoothly. Synovial fluid is part of the system that allows the bones in a given joint to glide over each other without friction, facilitating smooth and painless movement between the bones. Physical exercise such as yoga may help in this area of health.
Try these yoga poses for strength and flexibility.
It is important to note that not all yoga will be good for your joints, depending on your situation. And yoga is not a replacement for medical interventions. If you suffer from joint pain or chronic pain/disease that affects your joints, you should consult a doctor before deciding to start a yoga practice. And if you do get the green light, know not all yoga classes and practices are appropriate in this case. Here are some tips to help you choose a yoga practice that is good for you:
It is important to go easy with a gentle practice, staying away from a vigorous practice that may aggravate already damaged joints.
You want to practice yoga poses with breath and movement; holding static poses may be painful.
Do your practice later in the day once your muscles and joints have had time to warm and loosen up? Joints tend to be stiffer first thing in the morning.