Yoga and Dermatomyositis

Submitted by Allan on December 27, 2012

Dermatomyositis can be described as a rare inflammatory disease, characterized by muscle weakness and a skin rash that is quite distinctive. This condition can affect adults as well as children, but is more likely to occur in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 can also develop Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM).



While there is no cure for this rare condition, it can be controlled to a great extent with the help of medication, therapy, surgery and lifestyle changes.

In case you are suffering from dermatomyositis, your doctor may advise you to practice yoga and meditation. This is because yoga relieves stress from the body, including the muscles.

This ancient practice can also help increase strength, stamina, muscle flexibility and range of motion.

If you are planning to take up yoga for dermatomyositis, it is absolutely essential that you consult a well-qualified and experienced yoga instructor, who is aware of your medical history, as well as your lifestyle. Because of your condition, you will probably be asked to practice the modified forms of poses like –

Nadi Shodana or Alternate Nostril Breathing is also said to be quite beneficial for people suffering from dermatomyositis.

It is important that you check with your doctor before practicing any yoga pose. If you notice a flare-up or worsening of the condition, stop your yoga practice and speak to your doctor immediately.

Swimming Exercises

High-repetition and full-body integrated exercises that have a low weight bearing aspect are considered good for patients with dermatomyositis. According to the Children’s Hospital, Pittsburg, swimming is one of the best exercises for children suffering from JMD. Doctors also often advise dermatomyositis patients to sit in a heated pool or take warm baths, to loosen and warm up their joints.

Before entering a pool, make sure that you keep your skin well-protected, by wearing a UVA and UVB protective sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Do apply the sunscreen again, after you are done swimming. If possible, avoid swimming in the hot sun during the day.

Benefits of exercises for Dermatomyositis

Studies indicate that moderate exercise is good for improving muscle strength in patients suffering from dermatomyositis. Some of the stretching exercises recommended include –

  • Shoulder stretches
  • Quadriceps stretches
  • Hamstring stretches

While practicing these exercises, do bear in mind that the stretching needs to be quite gentle. As you hold each stretch, you should be able to breathe easily. Stretching exercises are good for –

  • Improving posture
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Enhancing flexibility
  • Relieving stress
  • Promoting balance

A 10-minute warm-up before stretching is highly recommended. If you experience any pain while working out, it means that you are stretching too far. In such instances, stop exercising and speak with your doctor.

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