The Most Common Yoga Injuries and How to Prevent Them

by Anthony Saba

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Are you looking for a workout that can provide both mental and physical benefits? Do you want harmony between your mind and body? If your answer to these questions is yes, yoga is the type of workout that you are looking for. 

Yoga improves your vitality, energy, and respiration. It maintains proper metabolism. It also aids in weight reduction while improving one’s circulatory health and athletic performance.

Aside from the physical benefits, yoga is helpful for stress management which sometimes reveals itself in the form of body pain or sleep problems.

Because yoga incorporates breathing exercises and meditation, it is the kind of exercise that you are looking for if you want both mental calmness and physical strength.

However, even though yoga offers a wide range of benefits, yoga injuries are also possible.

How Can Yoga Be Dangerous?

two women performing a complicated yoga position

W. Ritchie Russel, a neurophysiologist, wrote an article indicating how certain yoga postures can cause a stroke even for healthy individuals. He found out that what causes strokes is not just a direct head trauma but also some fast movements and intense neck extensions.

If you are a yogi, you might have already heard about the article of William J. Broad, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” This article raised the eyebrows of several yoga teachers and practitioners. Broad stated the reasons why yoga can be injurious to the body.

In his article, you will read some ideas stating that yoga is only good for people that are in a good physical condition. He pointed out that there are several yoga instructors claiming to be experts, but who are not actually that well-prepared, especially if something goes wrong during practice. He also claimed that there are also plenty of risky yoga poses that can pose a serious danger to your health.

His exaggerated claims angered some yoga practitioners. However, it is undeniable that he has a point.

From 2001 to 2014, the reported yoga-related injuries reached 29,590. 46.6% suffered from trunk injury and 45% are from sprain or strain. Of course, as anyone could have predicted, 65 years olds and above suffered the most, so up to a point, the risk of injury does correlate to your overall level of fitness. 

List of Risky Yoga Poses (Especially for Beginners)
yoga handstand

Handstand or Adho Mukha Vrksasana

You put your weight on your hands in this one. The position offers low stability; thus there is a great chance of falling. This yoga pose may cause a hamstring strain. Also, it is not for people with glaucoma because of the pressure it requires of the eyes.

Headstand or Salamba Sirsana

Just like in the handstand, it is not a stable position for the body. It puts the body weight on the head. For this reason, it is not for people with an injured neck or previous neck injuries. Also, it is not for people with glaucoma, just like the previous position.

Shoulderstand or Salamba Sarvangasana

The shoulderstand is good for the thyroid and metabolism. However, you make the upper part of your spine responsible for handling the weight of your body. It puts a lot of pressure on your neck too.

Again, it is not recommended for people with glaucoma. This yoga position increases the possibility of a leg strain because of the poor alignment of the legs. It is not for people with high blood pressure because the position can destroy the lining of the arteries, which may cause blood clots, leading to a stroke. 

Standing forward bend or Uttanasana

The position is good for opening up your hamstrings, hips, and calves. It is also good for kidney and liver stimulation. However, if you have back problems, skip it and do not force yourself into it.

This position requires you to stretch your hamstring, which may cause injuries that take months to years before they heal completely.

Bound Triangle pose or Baddha Trikonasana

This yoga pose is a good hip opener but may cause injuries on the hamstring area, especially if you are a yoga beginner.

Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Chaturanga Dandasana

The four-limbed staff pose may cause a cumulative yoga injury. As you do this pose repetitively, you are damaging your neck if not in proper alignment.

Camel pose or Ustrasana

Many say that this pose is a good reliever of respiratory ailments, anxiety, and fatigue. However, it is not for people with a pinched nerve problem. 

List of Body Parts That Are Prone to Yoga Injury

wrist injury

Ribs

Strains and injuries to the ribs can frequently happen when you twist your body. If you do it improperly, it may cause bruises in the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs).

Elbows 

Doing the chaturanga pose with an improper alignment (or without sufficient warm-up) causes stress to the elbow joint as well as the wrist.

Wrist

When you are doing a handstand, your wrist faces a great risk for injury (in both the muscles and the joints).

Lower back

The lower back is where the injury commonly appears. Yoga instructors suspect that it is due to the poses that exert pressure on the spine.

Shoulders

Shoulder injuries happen when you raise your shoulders toward your ears in certain poses. This causes muscle injuries because of extreme stretching or extending.

Knee

The most common cause of yoga injuries on the knee is the lotus position (cross-legged).

Hamstring

This type of injury is due to the overstretching or over-pulling of the hamstrings.

Hips

Various yoga movements require the use of the hips; that is why it is easy to overextend them. This overextension causes the tearing of the muscles in the inner thighs or the groin area. 

Neck  

The incorrect neck placement requires pressure on the neck that may cause issues on the joint of the neck or absence of neck flexion.

What You Should Do to Prevent These Yoga Injuries

woman doing a warm up on the beach before exercise

Look for a Good Coach

Just like what William Broad said in his article, there are tons of yoga teachers nowadays claiming to be experts. For this reason, you need to find one that really has extensive experience; someone who does not force your body to do a certain pose that you cannot do. Pay attention to a proper certification when looking for a yoga teacher, as well as reviews from the other people already attending his or her classes.

Also, the instructor should be persistent in teaching you the proper alignment of your body parts even though you are among several students. Beginners are in need of extra attention and care until they learn to perform the various yoga poses correctly. If you feel like you are left on your own by your yoga teacher, you should definitely search for another instructor.

Do Warm Up Exercises

Warm up exercises prepare your body for more challenging movements. In the absence of a proper warm-up, the risk of injuries is much higher.

Use Gears, Props, or Equipment

Using props or sports gear helps you not to push your body. Also, these can help you get a feel for a particular yoga post. Moreover, if you have previous injuries, using gear like knee sleeves can help.

Get Real

Do not attempt to do the advanced poses just for the sake of your ego. Be mindful of the things that you can or cannot do.

If you want to advance to the next level, join yoga retreats or clubs that suit your level. The instructor will teach you the foundation for the advanced poses. Do not force your body to do what it cannot do yet. Patience is one of the most important skills in the philosophy of yoga, but it will help you progress in the physical side as well. 

Observe Proper Alignment

As you can notice, most injuries are caused by improper body alignment. If you know how to properly align your body parts while doing a particular yoga pose or movement, do it.

Seek Advice From a Doctor

Before heading for a yoga class, ask a physician’s advice. It is important especially if you have a previous injury. Ask your doctor if you are ready to do a particular yoga pose and see if that might cause problems for you.

Conclusion

woman in peaceful yoga pose by the river

Yoga is extremely beneficial to the mind and the body, there’s no question about it.

However, just like the other forms of exercise, it may cause accidents and injuries, especially if you do it without proper guidance.

Therefore, you should know how to prevent the possible injuries by looking for a good instructor and by making sure you have a proper body alignment. 

Want to read more from Anthony? You can keep up with his latest stories on EquipmentArea.com.

The information in this article is of the author’s research. Please consult your doctor before taking any action. Tripaneer is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. 


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