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.


  1. Roush JK, Dodd CE, Fritsch DA, Allen TA, Jewell DE, Schoenherr WD, Richardson DC,Leventhal PS, Hahn KA. Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010 Jan 1;236(1):59-66.
  2. Oka H, Akune T, Muraki S, En-yo Y, Yoshida M, Saika A, Sasaki S, Nakamura K, Kawaguchi H, Yoshimura N. Association of low dietary vitamin K intake with radiographic knee osteoarthritis in the Japanese elderly population: dietary survey in a population-based cohort of the ROAD study. J Orthop Sci. 2009 Nov;14(6):687-92. Epub 2009 Dec 8.
  3. Lee DH, Steffes M, Jacobs DR. Positive associations of serum concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls or organochlorine pesticides with self-reported arthritis, especially rheumatoid type, in women. Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Jun;115(6):883-8. Epub 2007 Feb 20.
  4. Bennell KL, Hinman RS. A review of the clinical evidence for exercise in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. J Sci Med Sport. 2011 Jan;14(1):4-9. Epub 2010 Sep 17. Review.
  5. Chyu MC, von Bergen V, Brismée JM, Zhang Y, Yeh JK, Shen CL. Complementary and alternative exercises for management of osteoarthritis. Arthritis. 2011;2011:364319. Epub 2011 Jul 25.
  6. Anandacoomarasamy A, Fransen M, March L. Obesity and the musculoskeletal system. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009 Jan;21(1):71-7. Review.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *