If you’re experiencing arthritis pain, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise. But research clearly shows exercise can relieve a wide variety of pain issues—including arthritis.
As Dr. Fred Pescatore points out in his Essential Pain Protocol, “Research shows one particular form of mild exercise can actually help combat the painful symptoms of arthritis. I’m talking about yoga.”
The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center tested the effects of three weekly yoga sessions versus no exercise in 75 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis.
After eight weeks, participants assigned to the yoga group experienced these significant benefits compared to the non-exercise group:
- Better balance
- Faster walking speed
- Higher mental health scores
- Increased flexibility
- Improved physical function
- Less pain
- Stronger grip strength
And what’s even more impressive, most of these improvements were still evident a full 9 months after the trial ended.
With results like these, it’s no surprise that other studies have yielded similar results. Dr. Pescatore cites a review where researchers analyzed 12 studies on yoga and osteoarthritis, involving nearly 600 people.
The researchers found that practicing yoga—from once a week to six days a week—resulted in reductions in pain, stiffness, and swelling. And as Dr. Pescatore points out, similar reviews show that yoga is also effective in relieving back and neck pain, headaches, pelvic pain, and fibromyalgia pain.
In addition to relieving arthritis pain, Dr. Pescatore points out that yoga might even help you avoid unnecessary knee surgeries…
Dr. Pescatore shares a case history reported in the International Journal of Yoga: “A person scheduled for knee replacement decided to practice yoga instead. After just three weeks, she made a remarkable recovery—so remarkable, in fact, that she no longer needed the surgery!”
When pain holds you back, take a seat
One of the great benefits of yoga is its adaptability—whether you’re a beginner or advanced, you’ll be able to find a level that works best for you, even if your pain keeps you from exerting yourself.
For instance, Dr. Pescatore recommends chair yoga for patients with restricted range of motion due to arthritis pain. He points out that doing yoga in a seated position can relieve the strain that keeps many arthritis patients from exercising.
He cites a study that tested chair yoga for older adults with osteoarthritis. After participants attended “Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga” sessions two times each week for eight weeks, they reported less pain, reduced fatigue, and improved their gait speed.
In Dr. Pescatore’s view, studies like this show that for every obstacle to fitness, there’s a solution. You can find online yoga classes to enroll in by doing a simple Internet search. You can also visit YouTube for free yoga tutorials. “Bottom line,” he adds, “If you’re in pain from arthritis, yoga can help relieve it.”
“Yoga in Sedentary Adults with Arthritis: Effects of a Randomized Controlled Pragmatic Trial.” The Journal of Rheumatology 2015; 42(7): 1194-1202. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.141129