Yoga: A Low-Impact Exercise for Joint Pain

A recent AARP article gave some helpful suggestions for low impact exercise options that can keep those who suffer from joint pain moving. Today we wanted to highlight the yoga exercise option!

Gentle Yoga

Yoga is an amazing way to rejuvenate your mind and body as you build strength and mental focus. A gentle-yoga class will be kind to your joints while helping you to maintain flexibility and stability.

"Stretching the muscles around joints can decrease compression in the joint as well as strengthen the muscles to help provide more support to the joint," says Caitlin Parsons, a licensed yoga therapist and owner of Healers Within. Most classes will be good for joint pain; the key is to avoid certain poses and movements that might put stress on your joints, especially your knees. Here are a few modifications to ensure more low-impact movements.

Keep your knees straight and in line. Focus on aligning your knees over your ankles for bend-over poses and not letting them cave in toward each other. If they're coming together and you can't stop it, ask the teacher to help adjust you, which she will be happy to do.

Don't hesitate to try props like blocks or blankets. If you don't know how to use them, go to class a little early for a quick tutorial. These accessories give you support and padding, making the poses easier to achieve.

Plank with your knees on the floor (this is a modified plank), instead of bearing all the weight on your wrists, hands or shoulders. Start building strength here before trying full plank movement, Parsons suggests.

Use your forearms for more support while in Downward Dog and Sunbird poses and when doing planks.

Ultimately, the yoga teacher will be your best guide for determining what is ideal for your aching joints. Speak with him before class and he'll make sure to help you with modifications during the session.

Make sure to talk with your doctor to get the go-ahead to exercise before trying any joint-friendly activities.