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What to know about yoga for psoriatic arthritis – Medical News Today

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) causes joint pain and swelling. Physical activity may worsen or relieve the symptoms. Certain types of exercise may be better than others.

There is currently no cure for PsA. However, people can make certain lifestyle changes, such as incorporating yoga into their routine, to relieve the symptoms. This can be a vital part of managing the condition.

This article explains how yoga may help with PsA, how to stay safe when practicing yoga, and which poses are best for people with PsA. It also discusses where to find yoga classes and when to seek medical advice.

PsA causes chronic swelling and inflammation of the joints. The condition also causes skin-related symptoms such as itching.

PsA usually starts when a person is 30–50 years old, but onset can occur at any age. According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 1 in 3 people with psoriasis eventually develop PsA.

Although there are medical treatment options available for PsA, making certain lifestyle changes may also help people cope with the symptoms. Relaxation techniques and gentle exercise may help relieve the symptoms and protect the joints.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends low impact exercises, such as yoga, for people with PsA. Yoga involves deep breathing, physical poses, and concentration, and when a person practices it regularly, it can promote a feeling of calm and well-being. It may also help a person feel more flexible.

In the United States, more than 1 in 7 adults took part in yoga in the past year, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Although research into yoga specifically for PsA is limited, many studies look at the benefits of yoga for other forms of arthritis.

For example, one 2018 review looks at 13 clinical trials and suggests that regular yoga sessions may help with knee-specific arthritis symptoms. A 2019 review of nine trials suggests that yoga may or may not be helpful for people with osteoarthritis involving the knees.

Learn more about how yoga works here.

Before starting any new physical activity, a person should discuss it with a doctor or physical therapist. If the person was active before receiving their PsA diagnosis, they may be able to continue at the same level, assuming that the movements they perform are safe and do not add extra strain to the joints.

People with PsA may struggle to perform certain movements comfortably for prolonged periods of time. In fact, the National Psoriasis Foundation suggests that people with PsA try water-based exercise to help reduce pressure on the joints. People may be able to practice some yoga positions in a swimming pool.

Although yoga is generally safe for people with PsA, some poses may worsen the pain. People should also try to avoid any yoga movements that they are unable to perform safely.

Yoga classes may be available through local community centers, gyms, swimming pools, fitness centers, and online. For example:

  • Local community centers often provide yoga classes at varying intensities and for different skill levels for free or at a low cost.
  • Yoga classes are also a staple of most gym schedules.
  • Some swimming pool facilities may also offer water-based yoga activities.
  • Online options for people who prefer to work out at home include YouTube videos and subscription fitness streaming services.

Do I need any special equipment?

All a person needs is a mat. However, some other accessories that may make yoga more comfortable include:

  • yoga blocks to adjust positioning as needed
  • a yoga towel for added padding during kneeling positions
  • a yoga strap to help with stretching

The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following yoga poses for people with PsA:

Cat-Cow

To perform this pose:

  1. Place a towel under the knees to maintain comfort throughout the movement.
  2. Get into a tabletop position on the hands and knees.
  3. Alternate rounding the back while dropping the head and arching the back while looking straight ahead.

Cat-Cow is a good warmup and cooldown exercise.

Cobbler’s Pose

To perform this pose:

  1. Get into a seated position on the floor with the feet together.
  2. Lean forward from the hips to get in a stretch.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Seated Spinal Twist

To perform this pose:

  1. In a seated position, stretch out both legs in front of the body, then bring up one knee and cross that leg over the other one.
  2. Twist toward the hip on the crossed leg’s side, looking back over the shoulder. Be careful to twist gently and not strain to look over the shoulder.
  3. Hold the position for several seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Chair Pose

To perform this pose:

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat back as if moving to sit in an invisible chair. At the same time, raise the arms. The knees should not move past the toes.
  3. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.

Standing Forward Bend

To perform this pose:

  1. Stand with the feet slightly apart and the knees slightly bent.
  2. Slowly lower down, letting the arms hang toward the floor, holding the pose for several breaths.
  3. To come out of the pose, slowly curl back up one vertebra at a time.

Other poses

Some other poses that can help stretch and strengthen the body include Bridge, Warrior ll, and Baby Cobra.

There are several different types of yoga. Some people may prefer a single style over others. Types include:

  • Iyengar: This often involves the use of props, and it emphasizes correct bodily alignment.
  • Hatha yoga: This is what most people think of when they think of yoga. The mind-body practice incorporates body movements, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises.
  • Bikram yoga: This is also known as hot yoga, and it involves performing yoga movements in heated rooms.
  • Vinyasa: This involves series of movements strung together to create a flow of movement.
  • Ashtanga: This is similar to Vinyasa but focuses on endurance.

Yoga can be beneficial for people with PsA, as it is generally a low impact exercise that involves physical poses along with deep breathing and concentration. It can help a person feel calm and may also help them feel more flexible.

However, people should be careful to avoid movements that worsen their pain. If a person is new to yoga or exercise in general, they should talk with a doctor to get some guidance on whether or not this type of exercise is right for them.

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