What would life be like without joints? Hardly flexible and impossible to accomplish nearly any task besides standing straight and tall and maybe singing. I suppose one could do eye exercises and chew food. Thinking wouldn’t be an issue, but all the most enjoyable practices in the world would be near impossible such as sports, dancing, sex and even walking down the street. Forget about washing your hair or brushing your teeth. Joints play a critical role in general healthy living. When joints, such as those in the knees, start to deteriorate for people as in osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, life begins to sour just a bit. However, in the case of warm therapy thoughtfully applied, osteoarthritis can’t seem to stand the heat.
What do I mean?
It seems that through practices such as hot or warm yoga, steam saunas and hydrotherapy, osteoarthritis sufferers have found great relief if not intense healing. What is amazingly funny about osteoarthritis is in many of the research studies conducted where patients either receive knee operations or a placebo operation, the results tend to be the same. That’s right – Dr. Mercola, who is an arthroscopic knee surgeon for people suffering with osteoarthritis, reports that knee surgery for such a condition is one of the most over-done and unnecessary surgeries around today. The reason for this is because the placebo surgery has the exact same results.
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study done at Harvard’s Mass General Hospital over ten years ago. It was a double blind placebo study which showed results from placebo surgeries and regular knee surgeries had equal results! Why would anyone then opt for surgery when other options could be applied, such as heat therapy is is found in hot yoga.
Those who are new to hot yoga should take care. There are plenty of yoga studios around who offer warm, rather than full-blown hot yoga classes as is found in Bikram style yoga. Warm yoga is still generally pretty warm, though not over-bearing, offering relief and comfort to cold-sensitive joints as is often found in osteoarthritis sufferers. Many who have experienced this type of “degenerative joint disease” have found their condition greatly improving and even fully eliminated with regular warm to hot yoga practice.
One of the main reasons why people get joint problems as is found in osteoarthritis is due to lack of movement and weight bearing exercise. Their joints just basically deteriorate from non-use. Yoga poses offer the nice stretch, balance and weight bearing exercise joints need to get healthy and remain as such. Start slow and allow the body to heal progressively as the practice is continued.
Other therapies that can be helpful are steaming the joints as in steam rooms, especially utilizing essential oils such as birch, wintergreen, chamomile, marjoram, frankincense and lavender. These oils target joints specifically and encourage healing of the delicate tissues as well as relief from pain. If bone spurs develop, as sometimes they do in cases of osteoarthritis, a nice apple cider vinegar soak in warm water can be most therapeutic and beneficial as can some wild cherry juice internally.
Osteoarthritis has many possibilities for relief including the warm yoga where, apparently, it just can’t stand the heat. One man out of Calgary, Greg Strathern, reports great relief and near recovery of a severe case of osteoarthritis after engaging in hot yoga practices regularly. The founder of one of the world’s most popular hot yoga franchises, Bikram Choudhury, originally started his successful yoga business due to an extreme knee injury that nearly crippled him. Though not osteoarthritis per say, Bikram’s ability to heal his knee so completely through his formulated yoga routine and go on to help thousands of others sets a fine example of how warm yoga is so good for ones knees. Besides, if the placebo effect can cure knees, why couldn’t a little warm therapy? Can you stand the heat?
Written by: Stasia Bliss