Even though yoga is a low impact exercise routine, it can also cause injuries, especially if you are overzealous and careless. Akin to the buzz yoga benefits created, the injuries are also now pointing towards the potential snags of this beautiful workout regimen. And adding to the woes, leading newspapers have reported that there is an increasing number of people who visit the doctor because of yoga induced injuries.
Top 10 Yoga Related Injuries:
The good news is that most of the injuries are not worrisome and will actually heal over time. Here are top the 10 yoga related injuries and how to avoid them. Also, learn few easy yet effective tips on how you can safeguard yourself from yoga-induced injuries.
Many a time, doing shoulder and head stand poses could leave you with an uninviting neck pain, or even worse – a strained muscle. Getting into the pose and holding it incorrect, and that too repeatedly, compresses the neck and pressurizes cervical vertebrae. This, in turn, results in injuries.
Solution: Avoid head and shoulder stands. If you want to try those, then make sure you have proper props with you that will allow you neck elevation and support. Always practice these complete inversion poses under the supervision of a professional. Also, be careful to avoid jerking your neck while holding the pose as it could even destabilize you, leading to a fall.
Be careful while getting into your favorite Udhvo Mukha Svanasana [Upward facing Dog]. The slightest carelessness in the way you support yourself on your neck, shoulders, and arms could leave you with a compressed shoulder muscle. Even worse – the shoulder rotator cuff could get dislocated or over extended.
Solution: Let go and avoid being too harsh on your shoulders as you indulge in your favorite stretches. Keep your shoulders down and back, at a reasonable distance from your ears to avoid injuries.
There are certain poses like Bakasana or Dolphin Plank Pose, where your elbows become the sole point of support. The entire body weight rests there. A small jerk – that is all you need for elbow dislocation.
Solution: Keep your elbows tucked in line with the rib as you bed. The crease of the elbow should face forward. And, now you can lower your body. If you find this difficult, then come on your knees and then support yourself.
Poses like Chaturanga Dandasana [Four Limbed Staff Pose] or Purvottanasana [Upward Plank Pose] call for the use of wrists for support. There are chances of a nerve getting twisted or a muscle near your wrist tearing off as you push yourself off the floor. The moment you trip, you will injure not just your wrists, but your back too.
Solution: Spread your fingers to allow even distribution of body weight on your palm so that less pressure is experienced at the wrists. You can also take the help of props for ensuring better balance.
Spinal twists release the tension from your back and even tone your midriff. However, it comes with a clause. The moment you twist the wrong way or over stretch, you will bruise the muscles that are caged in between your ribs.
Solution: Stretch your spine up to allow maximum elongation. Now, twist only till you feel that tingle, not an inch more.
6. Lower Back:
Many yoga practitioners complain of lower back ache after doing yoga and it is unarguably the most common among yoga-related injuries. The forward bends, both seated and standing, could actually over exert your spine. This rounds the spine instead of flexing as it is expected to, leading to various back issues, including disc troubles.
Solution: Stretch and lengthen your spine upward, off your hips. And, then slowly start bending forward. Stretch only till you can; excessive stretching can be the culprit, especially if your hamstrings are tight. For seated forward bends, you can use a block to elevate your legs. This will soothe your lower back muscles and prevent injuries.
You can take the help of yoga to ease your tight hamstrings, but make sure that you do not over stretch in the first session itself. You will find yourself resting in your bed instead of going for the next session.
Solution: If you have tight hamstrings, go slow. Listen to the signals your body gives you. Stop the moment you experience pain.
Warrior poses, hip flexors and extenders are all good, only when done without exerting pressure on the inner thighs or groins. The mildest form of over stretch could leave you with torn and sore thigh and groin muscles.
Solution: Keep your toes pointed to the front wherever you need to square your hips off forward.
If you are not used to cross legged positions, then you will definitely experience knee pain. Indian yogis, in general, do not face this issue as they sit cross legged even during their meals. If you are finding it difficult to sit in Padmasana or Sukhasana, use supports beneath your knee. If your hips are tight, then too you will feel pain in your knees. So watch out!
Solution: Avoid cross legged position until your knee pain subsides and your hips become felxible. Keep a blanket beneath your knees to ease the strain experienced. While in standing positions, make sure that the knee and heels come in a straight line so that your body weight is distributed evenly.
Dehydration is critical, if not taken care of immediately. And people who indulge in Hot Yoga are prone to dehydrated conditions, which actually increases the susceptibility to other injuries. While sweating helps in mellowing down your body, it does not actually satiate the need of water.
Solution: Stay hydrated. Keep your water bottle near you and sip water as you relax in between the asanas.
How to Prevent Yoga-Related Injuries and Stay Safe:
Here are 9 tips that every yoga enthusiast should keep in mind to shield himself/herself from yoga related injuries.
1. Do Not Forget to Warm Up:
As with all other workout forms, yoga too needs a warm up session. It will help to improve the circulation of blood to the muscles, lubricate your joints, and prepare your body to indulge in the various yoga asanas. Progress logically. Kick off with simple poses involving all the body parts, slowly graduating to strenuous ones. For example, you can do a mild Bhujangasana before taking off to Ustrasana [Camel Pose].
2. Learn Alignment:
Proper alignment is the keyword for yoga asanas. Start from your feet, working your way up. A properly aligned body is less vulnerable to injuries and risks, It eases the stress experienced by your ligaments and muscles, at the same time ensures even strengthening. This assures you of a fabulous level of balance. A person who has proper alignment is sure to reap better benefits out of a pose than a non-aligned person, even if the latter is an expert.
3. Remember, You Set Your Own Pace:
No competitions – with other yogis as well as with your own self. Go slow; you are here to learn yoga and not to take part in any competitions. Just because your neighbor is doing Halasana doesn’t imply that you also have to do that. And if you are in a power yoga class, then make sure you skip a part until you build your stamina.
4. Listen to What Your Body Says:
Listen carefully to the signals your body is giving you. These are cues which will tell you whether you are taking the right path or not. Never push yourself beyond your limits. You do not have to feel guilty if you couldn’t hold your toes while doing Uttanasana. You will be able to reach that posture with gradual practice.
5. Keep Realistic Goals and Expectations:
Yoga requires intense levels of patience along with flexibility, balance, strength, and not to forget, practice. So, keep your goals and expectations realistic.
6. Breathe Right:
Each yoga pose has a predefined style of breathing. For example, you have to take a deep inhalation as you raise your torso off the floor to hold in Bhujangasana. At the same time, you inhale and then exhale while bending slowly while coming into Balasana. So, make sure you breathe right because incorrect breathing can also cause sprains and injuries.
7. Take the Help of Props:
There are countless yoga props available now – blankets, bolsters, straps, blocks, and cushions. Use them, without hesitation, wherever you feel their need. They ease the pressure experienced on the muscles, helps with correct alignment, facilitates better stretching, and support you. Using props doesn’t mean you are less proficient than others who are doing yoga without props. In fact, props allow you to reap the benefits of various poses better.
8. Learn to Say No:
If you are suffering from injuries, then please do avoid poses that will aggravate the condition instead of easing them. Say no to complicated poses, including inversion poses such as Sarvangasana, Halasana, and Sirshasana , if you are a beginner or have shoulder and knee injuries. Saying no always shields you from the worst.
9. Do Your Homework Before You Get Started?
With more and more people flocking to yoga classes, the ever growing popularity of yoga is really tempting. However, that does not mean you can go and join just any class. Do your homework. Find out a professional yoga teacher, especially if you are from the Western countries. Only a trained yoga teacher will have the basic information about the body physiology, anatomy, and movement, which in turn will help him/her guide you through the right path.
Check for the classes that offer graduation. Start with the basic forms, slowly improving yourself before accessing the next level. There are countless online websites that offer yoga classes. Do not just get jump started with those. Even though most of them come with trainer instructions, go to a yoga studio and learn. You can actually keep these videos for practicing once you are comfortable with the poses.
Read as much as possible about yoga – its history, the basics, the Yoga Sutras, the various types of yoga, and the pluses and minuses of yoga. Identify your needs and then zero upon the class. If your aim is to lose weight, then Bikram Yoga or Power Yoga could be your choice. However, if your aim is to improve your flexibility levels, while toning yourself, then Hatha Yoga could be your answer. Knowing the goals can also shield you from unwanted injuries.
Now that you are aware about the various injuries you might be subjected to while practicing yoga and how to guard yourself against them, use them to enjoy a safe yoga journey!
Have you ever suffered from an injury while doing yoga? How did you combat it? Are there any more tips which you know that would help others prevent yoga injuries? Do let us know.