Yoga Modifications to Protect Your Joints

Fitness crazes come and go, but yoga is one program that truly stands the test of time. This ancient art form originated in northern India nearly 5,000 years ago, and it has continued to grow in popularity throughout the centuries. A 2008 market study in Yoga Journal estimates that 16 million Americans currently practice yoga, and they spend at total of $5.7 billion annually on yoga gear (Source: The Better India).

Yoga is widely recognized as a therapeutic form of exercise that can relieve depression, promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, and alleviate arthritis. However, some individuals may need to take extra precautions to protect their bodies – specifically their joints – when practicing yoga.

Knees
Pay close attention to the position of your front knee when doing poses like Warrior I, Warrior II, and High Crescent Lunge. Your knee should form a 90 degree angle and stay vertically in line with your ankle. Make sure your knee does not extend beyond your toes or cave inward, as this can stress the knee ligaments and cause pain.

Elbows
When doing plank positions, keep your elbows about shoulder width apart and tuck them firmly against your rib cage. Allowing your elbows to buckle outward can contribute to joint pain.

Wrists
Downward dog is an excellent pose to stretch and strengthen the shoulders, arms and legs, but it can be quite hard on the wrists if you aren’t careful. When doing this pose, press through your palms to evenly distribute your weight throughout your hands. If your wrists are particularly sensitive, you can modify this pose by lowering onto your forearms.

Shoulders
Keep shoulders relaxed and away from your ears when doing yoga or any other form of exercise. If you notice your shoulders beginning to creep upwards, take a deep breath and roll them back, pinning your shoulder blades down and towards each other.

Neck
Resist the urge to crane your neck when trying to get into some of the more difficult yoga poses. This creates unnecessary strain on your muscles and could cause pain. Keep your head in line with your spine, and release any neck tension by moving your head left to right or rolling it side to side (Source: Huffington Post).

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