Yoga for Arthritis
A recent message:
Is it wise to work an arthritic hip with yoga? I have the beginnings of arthritis in my hip.
This is a common concern that maybe we should rest arthritic joints to avoid more wear and tear. From a mechanics perspective, it makes sense. Using a mechanical part too much decreases its life span.
But joints arent inanimate. Theyre part of us, of our living structure. Just like bones and muscles, joints are dynamic structures that need use and attention to keep working optimally. One of the best things we can do is to exercise a troubled joint. Taking it through a full range of motion increases lubrication with synovial fluid. The fluid is full of nourishment, and it feeds the joint for healing. As it washes through, it also cleanses and removes toxic waste products of metabolism and inflammatory mediators.
Exercising the joint through a full range of motion is important, but just as essential is that it doesnt bear more load than it was designed to handle. Even just five to ten pounds of extra weight puts a significant burden on a joint, and shedding those few pounds is absolutely the best thing that can be done to prevent further degradation.
Improving the strength of surrounding muscles with weight training helps. So does increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, preferably through vegetarian sources like flax seed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Low vitamin K levels have been linked with the progression of osteoarthritis. Eat lots of leafy greens, too.
Persistent organic pollutant, or POPSs, are those nasty synthetic chemicals that have become stuck in our environment, unable to be degraded well either by the elements or by animals. They bio-accumulate through the food chain. Ninety percent of what gets into our bodies comes from meat and dairy, and once ingested they tend to stay in our bodies for decades. Although POPs are generally considered harmless in the concentrations found in humans, there is increasing concern in the scientific community that they may be contributing to our obesity epidemic. There is some possible correlation with arthritis as well. Thats another good reason to follow traditional Yoga advice and avoid animal flesh in the diet. If you like dairy, consider limiting the quantity and choosing organic products in small amounts.
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