Is Yoga And/Or Tai Chi Effective In Treating Pain Associated With Osteoarthritis?

Question: Is yoga and/or tai chi effective in treating pain associated with osteoarthritis?

Answer: People with osteoarthritis really do need to keep moving. It's very important that you continue to exercise and that this helps not only your weight -- manage your weight -- but also helps you move more easily and improves mood.

And people who are living with chronic pain, that can also affect our mood. And so instead of always thinking about you know bicycling and swimming, I would encourage people to also consider some of our more eastern types of exercises which include yoga and Tai Chi.

Now Tai Chi is a very gentle series of movement that originally started as a martial arts. So it was a martial art form. And it is comprised of very slow form of self defense moves. It is appropriate for anybody of any age, really in any medical condition to do this. And so what the studies have shown, interestingly, is that it increases balance, and reduces the risk of falls.

So for many people, especially as we get older, I think Tai Chi is something we should just try to incorporate into our lives. Now yoga's interesting.

There are different types of yoga, and so you'll really want to visit a yoga school and sort of watch the class or participate in a class before you sign up for anything of any duration to see if that's the kind of class that works for you.

Different forms of yoga can be more strenuous than others, so you want something that's more of a hatha yoga that is a series of postures and gentle stretching. This yoga again can reduce some of the pain and discomfort while increasing flexibility, maintaining muscle tone, and helping you also manage your weight.

So yoga and Tai Chi have this additional layer or component if you will of sort of in addition to being physical activities, they also help soothe the mind, quiet the mind, improve the balance and maintain muscle tone.

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