Yoga-Related Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Yoga-Related Injuries and How to Prevent Them

The Benefits of Yoga

There are countless benefits of yoga. The potential health benefits of yoga include:

  • Stress reduction. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
  • Improved fitness. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
  • Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

However, as with any new exercise routine, you should see your health care provider before you begin yoga if you have any of the following conditions or situations:

  • A herniated disk
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Deconditioned state
  • Eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe balance problems
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure

Yoga Injuries: An Increasing Trend

Although yoga has many benefits, it’s important to be aware of the growing trend of yoga-related injuries that can occur if it is practiced incorrectly, and how you can prevent injury while practicing yoga.

According to ABC News, there were 12 yoga-related injuries reported in 2000, and by 2007 the number of yoga-related injuries had increased to 5,500. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2010 there were over 7,369 yoga-related injuries treated in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms.

Most recently, according to a 2016 study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, yoga-related injuries are on the rise, especially among older adults. The study found that from 2001–2014 there were 29,590 yoga-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments. Overall, the study also found that yoga injuries became almost twice as common in 2014 as in 2001. The increase in injury during that period was particularly prevalent among seniors, increasing more than eightfold among adults 65 and older.

Common injuries include repetitive strain to and overstretching of the neck, shoulders, spine, lets and knees.

According to a 2009 survey of yoga teachers, therapists and doctors, the most serious yoga-related injuries were (in order of frequency):

  • Lower Back
  • Shoulder
  • Knee
  • Neck

How to Prevent Yoga Injuries

There are many things you can do to help prevent yoga-related injuries:

  • Consult your doctor. If you have any medical conditions or injuries, speak to your doctor before participating in yoga.
  • Do your research. Work with a qualified yoga instructor, and ask about his or her experience, credentials, continuing education and recent trainings.
  • Discuss illness or injury. Discuss any known illness or injury with your yoga instructor prior to the class so that he or she can recommend pose modifications.
  • Know your yoga type. Learn what type of yoga you are performing. There are hundreds of different forms of yoga, some more strenuous than others. It is important to learn which type of yoga will best suit your needs.
  • Choose your class wisely. Select the class level that is appropriate for you. Beginners should start slowly and learn the basics first — such as breathing — rather than trying to stretch too far. Also, it’s best to find a smaller class so that the teacher can monitor students and educate them to help prevent the many common misalignments from causing injury.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Wear appropriate clothing that allows for proper movement.
  • Warm up. Warm up thoroughly before a yoga session — cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
  • Ask questions. If you are unsure of a pose or movement, ask questions.
  • Know your limits. Start with the simple and move toward the complex. Do not try positions beyond your experience or comfort level.
  • Drink lots of water. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially if participating in Bikram or ” hot ” yoga.
  • Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain or exhaustion while participating in yoga, stop or take a break. If pain persists, talk to your doctor.

Because of the physical demand of Yoga, it can put unnecessary stress on your joints and cause an injury. If you’ve been experiencing pain while doing Yoga, seek the help of an orthopedic surgeon at Avalon Orthopedics – getting treated early could prevent serious long-term injury!


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