Welcome to Day 16 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today, we’ll consider the benefits of yoga for healthy joints. There are approximately 230 to 360 joints in the human body.
You ask: “Well is it 230 or is it closer to 360?”.
Me: Good question. It depends on how you classify a joint. If you do the research like I did, you’ll find there is no definitive answer. For example, some references include the approximately 86 joints in the skull as part of the classification. Others don’t. And by the way, babies are born with many more joints, some of which eventually fuse together as the baby develops.
You ask: “Start at the beginning, what exactly is a joint?”
Me: A joint is where the bones meet each other, or articulate. Some types of joints include:
- Ball and Socket Joints (shoulders and hips)
- Hinge Joints (knees and ulna of the elbows)
- Condyloid Joints (jaw and fingers)
- Gliding Joints (spine, wrists and ankles)
- Pivot Joints (neck and radius of elbows)
- Saddle Joints (thumbs)
You can think about joints based on the anatomical area of the body:
- Articulation Joints of the Hands
- Wrist Joints
- Elbow Joints
- Axillary Shoulder Joints (Glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints)
- Sternoclavicular Joints
- Vertebral Articulatory Joints
- Sacroiliac Joint of the pelvis
- Temporomandibular Joint of the jaw
- Articulation Joints of the Feet
- Hip Joints
- Knee Joints
You: “What does this have to do with yoga and healthy living?”
Me: Thanks for asking! Yoga is a fabulous practice to maintain healthy joints. Yoga can help to reduce joint pain and stiffness. It improves joint flexibility and function. It circulates the synovial fluid inside the joints.
You: “I’ve always heard that joints should not be stressed.”
Me: Well, that’s actually a medical myth. To maintain healthy joints, one needs to provide mindful stress upon the joints. If you never had any stress on the joints, you’d probably be lying flat on your back all the time – and that’s not good!
The key is to have movement in the body that is safe and unforced. This helps the healing process by circulating blood to the surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles. You create a moderate challenge for the joints, but never, ever cause pain. Most of us think of doing more is well…more. But pain is an important tool to monitor when you need to back off. If you don’t back off, you can cause more inflammation around the joints and potentially create damage to the ligaments, tendons and/or muscles.
Yoga that is practiced mindfully, consciously can lead to healthy joints and a healthy life.
Here’s a poem for your reflection/meditation today:
Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.
Awesome information, Suzanne. I enjoyed the presentation — so creative and humorous!
“synovial fluid” This really helps me with a motivating visualization. Must keep the synovial fluid flowing! I like the nuts and bolts (so to speak) information.