Recently I was diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis in my hands. Even though this is only a mild form of arthritis, my hands bother me on and off throughout the day. I sympathize with those that have more severe forms of this disease. If you read my previous post “Wrist Watch”, you know that this is not the first time my hands have bothered me. I had carpal tunnel surgery two years ago which led me to modify my yoga practice. At that time I modified to reduce pressure on my wrists in postures such as downward dog and plank. Now, I must consider how yoga and lifestyle changes can benefit this condition and bring relief to joint stiffness and inflammation.
For me, it’s just about my hands (at least for now). For many people arthritis affects other joints, commonly the knees, hips or spine. Research has shown that yoga has benefits for many forms of arthritis. Stretches and motion can increase flexibility, strengthening the muscles helps them to support the joints, and balance postures help reduce the risk of falls. Another benefit is stress relief. Often, the pain and reduced function that comes with arthritis causes emotional stress. Stress has been shown to exacerbate symptoms of many diseases. This becomes a vicious circle. The mind-body practice of yoga and breathwork helps reduce stress, which in turn can help manage pain.
As I look at postures and practices that help with arthritis, I’m very encouraged. There are many postures that help, and most postures can be modified to be accessible for those with arthritis. Sometimes just a slight variation or correction in alignment is all that is needed to make a pose more comfortable. In fact, yoga can help with so many of the symptoms of arthritis that I cannot cover them all in one article. Arthritis of the fingers, hands and wrists is one of the most common areas that arthritis appears. So today I focus on yoga and movement to help with arthritis of the hands and wrists. See below for some ideas for movements and yoga asana to help improve some of these symptoms.
Standing Prayer Sequence
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and bring hands to prayer position with palms together at heart. Bring shoulder blades down the back. Press hands together while elbows come out to the sides
- Next, separate the palms, but keep the fingertips pressed together as the fingers curve
- Bring the palms back together in prayer position and while pressing palms together raise hands overhead
- Open arms to cactus position, then bring arms down to the sides.
- Repeat 5-10 Times.
- Stand about 18 inches away from a wall, with the wall on your right side
- Bring your right hand to the wall at shoulder height, your index finger should point straight up and the whole palm should be against the wall.
- Take a few slow breaths here
- Now bring shoulder blades down the back
- Keeping hand against wall with gentle pressure, slowly walk feet so that the body faces away from the wall
- Once you feel a good stretch in the shoulder and upper chest, stop and pause
- Hold and breath for 5-6 breaths
- Take the hand off the wall, but keep it in the same position for a count of 5-10
- Rep[eat with other arm
- Seated in a chair, place your palm face down on a table or desk
- Start with the fingers together
- Keeping the palm on the table spread the fingers wide
- Hold for a count of 5, then bring the fingers back together
- Repeat 5-10 times
- Start with your palm open and fingers together
- Slowly curl the top part of the fingers
- Continue to curl the fingers down until you make a fist
- Slowly open the fingers and extend the fingers until you feel a stretch
- Repeat 5-10 times
Stay tuned for more on this topic in the future! If you’d like a personalized sequence or an individual session focused on your health goals, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join me for one of my classes. See my offerings on my schedule page.
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