Exercise for Arthritis - Useful Systems

What is useful exercise for arthritis sufferers?

Three exercise systems have been frequently recommended to ease arthritic symptoms - yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. Other exercise systems, like water exercises, too, have many benefits; however, arthritis sufferers may not always have access to the appropriate facilities, while the aforementioned practices can be used virtually anywhere and at anytime.

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A note about Exercise for Arthritis - Useful Systems

In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.

In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.

General precautions should be taken before implementing any new exercise routine. For instance, individuals with osteoarthritis in the neck should be cautioned against performing yoga’s headstand posture, and instead should adopt an inversion modification like plow pose or legs up the wall pose.

In general, one should not eat a heavy meal or drink alcohol at least two hours prior to practicing exercise for arthritis. An inflamed, tender, or swollen joint should be exercised with care, restricting it to its specific range of motion. If a medical advisor has prescribed glucocorticoids, take special care as these substances tend to make the bones frail. Painkillers may mask pain, and therefore you may strain or injure an area and not know it during the exercise for arthritis.

Do not carry out exercise for arthritis close to bedtime, as you may energize the body and mind enough to make the transition to sleep difficult. Look for qualified instructors in addition to practicing the movements at home. Few things replace the hands-on assistance or advice that an instructor can provide. If you have persistent stiffness, a warm bath or shower may ease movement during class.

In carrying out exercise for arthritis relief, never allow an instructor, or yourself, to push your body beyond its limits. The exercises described here are not competitive, but occasionally overzealousness can lead to additional injury. Be mindful and appreciative of where your body is at the present moment.

The three systems mentioned allow for gentle, low impact exercise alternatives that can drastically improve mobility, flexibility, energy levels and positive outlook.


An ancient system of mental, physical and spiritual exercises, yoga has been practiced daily by millions of people for at least 5,000 years. The system developed as part of the traditional Ayurvedic medicine of India.

Most Westerners have become familiar with hatha yoga, the series of postures (called asanas) originally developed to facilitate meditation and create a mind-body-spirit connection (yoga actually means union). It is these postures that prove most beneficial in treating arthritis.

Yoga postures allow the arthritic joints to move into gentle but extreme positions, allowing every crevice of the joint to be awash in lubricating fluid. In addition to the obvious work with the joints, yoga can build muscular strength and endurance while imparting a sense of ease.

Postures are entered into slowly and held, while the breath is emphasized. This initiates the relaxation response, which overtime can reduce the anxiety and depression that may come with arthritis. The yogic practice of pranayama (breath control) especially can help increase alertness and energy, making the condition much easier to deal with.

Tai Chi

The next useful exercise for arthritis to be discussed is tai chi. Tai chi combines elements of exercise, martial arts, and spiritual practice. Developed about 600 years ago, the system consists of a series of controlled movement that flow together into one long, rhythmic, graceful gesture, rather like a dance or slow motion martial arts sequence. The sequences all have very poetic names like “white stork flaps its wings,” and can be stirring to watch.

All movements work together gently, and the practitioner moves with concentration and inner stillness. The joints never lock, and the body moves in a manner prescribed in Chinese medicine as balancing or enhancing the vital life energy - qi.

Qi Gong

Finally, another therapeutic exercise for arthritis is qi gong. A system much older that tai chi, qi gong (also called chi kung) dates back some 3,000 years. Again, the system of movements, breathing and meditative techniques enhance life energy (qi) and direct it to flow through the body to promote vitality, self healing and health.

Qi gong has fewer elaborate movements than tai chi, and the movements do not unite into one long rhythmic series, but rather work separately, thus making the practice appear a bit less graceful. Those with severe osteoarthritis of the knees and hips may find qi gong easier to practice. Even the elderly bound to a wheelchair can practice the movements with certain modifications.

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