Avoiding Yoga Injuries ~Part I

oga’s popularity is on the rise, and more and more people are finding themselves drawn to this ancient discipline. However, along with increasing interest and participation has been a corresponding and upsetting increase in reports of yoga-related injuries in recent years. It’s not surprising, really. Not only are more people practicing yoga (thereby increasing their chances of being injured by it), but some enthusiasts are not practicing it carefully enough. Furthermore, increases in popularity inevitably invite negative publicity. However, yoga itself is not an inherently risky discipline. It simply requires a responsible and sometimes cautious approach.

[post-img]Despite its passive, therapeutic focus, like any other type of physical activity yoga is not entirely injury-free. The stretches and poses, twists and postures can be difficult on a body not conditioned for such strain. Even experienced practitioners run the risk of over-extending or improperly executing a routine. Most frequently, yoga injuries are joint or ligament-related. The flexing and bending required for the various positions of a yoga routine puts strain on your body in the centers of contortion and extension. [tip-fact]There are, therefore, several red flagged areas. Injuries to the knee and wrist, for example, are among some of the most common. The specific structure of the knee, while making it quite flexible, renders the joint neither strong nor especially stable. Therefore, poses that twist, bend or force the knee to take the body’s weight should be executed with care. Wrist injuries, on the other hand, usually occur when weight is placed on the arms. With humans being a two-legged species, our wrists have long since ceased being weight-bearing joints and any pose that requires the wrists for support or balance can cause injury.

The other most common injuries sustained through yoga are to the back and neck. Both forward and backward bends, as well as torso twists, can cause disc problems and spinal hyper-extension. Furthermore, inversion poses such as head- and shoulder-stands can compress the spine and neck in the unnatural redistribution of body weight.[b-quote]While a ligament pull or a sore joint can result from a single yoga class, the short-term injuries aren’t the most serious concerns. Inattentive and imprecise practice will affect your body cumulatively in the long run. By regularly over-exerting yourself or practising sloppy alignment you can do lasting and potentially permanent damage. Repeating and reinforcing bad habits over time places undue amounts of pressure where it shouldn’t be, thereby shifting the body gradually out of its natural alignment.

However, despite these concerns, yoga is still regarded as one of the safest forms of exercise. There’s a very good reason why yoga is offered to seniors and children, the physically challenged, and the relentlessly athletic. Yoga is personal and customizable, and can accommodate any person of any body type.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent yoga-related injuries.