Reducing inflammation with yoga after ACL surgery
By far the most popular post on this site is my post on Asana After ACL Surgery. It makes me so happy that people are finding their way back to health by incorporating yoga into their recovery prescription.
If you haven’t thought about spending time on the mat to aid healing, there now laboratory evidence that yoga reduces inflammation, the body’s way of reacting to injury or irritation. (Is that swollen knee talking to you yet?)
Researchers looked at 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half the group continued to ignore yoga, while the other half received twice-weekly, 90-minute classes for 12 weeks, with take-home DVDs and encouragement to practice at home.
According to the study, which was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended.
The study didn’t rely only on self-reporting, however. Kiecolt-Glaser’s husband and research partner, Ronald Glaser of the university’s department of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics, went for stronger, laboratory proof. He examined three cytokines, proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation.
Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation were lower by 10 to 15 percent. That part of the study offered some rare biological evidence of the benefits of yoga in a large trial that went beyond people’s own reports of how they feel.
Yoga for ACL Surgery Patients
Cancer is an obvious cause stress, but anyone who has had a torn ACL and surgery to repair it knows that this is also an incredibly stressful experience. It is no small stretch to believe that yoga could help reduce this stress and reduce the inflammatory proteins in the body as well. This is especially true given that smaller studies have shown, by measuring biological markers, that expert yoga practitioners had lower inflammatory responses to stress than novice yoga practitioners did; that yoga reduces inflammation in heart failure patients; and that yoga can improve crucial levels of glucose and insulin in patients with diabetes.
See you on the mat!
Photo by Lyn Tally, used with permission