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Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Yoga is often seen as a very therapeutic form of exercise. However, there is still a risk of injury. Yoga can flare-up pre-existing injuries and it can cause new injuries too.

When it comes to injury prevention in the studio there are several things you can do:

  • Talk to your teacher about your past injuries or conditions.
    • If your teacher knows your body, they can offer alternatives, things to avoid and they can watch your technique to see what you’re doing that may aggravate your tissues.
  • Listening to your body is imperative.
    • If there is pain, you need to back off, it’s your body trying to tell you something.
  • Take alternatives! There are so many ways you can alter your practice to accommodate for your needs.
  • Perhaps most importantly, balance stretching with strength.

Wrist injuries

Asides from when we’re young and learning to crawl, we don’t spend much time weight-bearing through our hands. We go from walking on our feet all day to yoga classes with crow poses and handstands without any conditioning.

When your wrists are placed in extension (like in table top or plank pose) with your body weight on top of them, the joints become loaded and vulnerable. This can lead to irritation of surrounding ligaments, muscles and tendons causing pain in your wrist or forearm. Usually this is because our wrists and forearms are not strong enough or conditioned to take the load of our bodies.

Hamstring injuries

Yoga butt! It’s that pain you get right on your sit bone (ischial tuberosity), either during or after class. It’s technically a proximal hamstring tendinopathy or hamstring tear. In yoga it’s often caused by over-stretching and the absence of strength training. Some yoga teachers place a big emphasis on hamstring flexibility. Think downward dog, standing forwards folds, seated forward folds, splits. These poses might feel good at the time but unfortunately too much stretching is rarely a good thing.

We usually enjoy the stretch because we feel “tight”, but there are a few reasons why a muscle can feel tight. Sometimes a muscle is tight because it’s weak and the tension is there as a protective mechanism. When this is the case, we actually need to strengthen the area. Stretching in this situation can cause tears or inflammation of the muscle or tendon.

What to do if you’re injured in class

Do not push through. If you’ve hurt yourself in class, come out of the pose and let the teacher know (if you can). If you need to leave the class do so, otherwise just modify the flow to poses that do not feel painful. You can always take child’s pose or savasana. Remember, taking some deep breaths will help to calm the nervous system which is really important if you are in pain. You may also need to see an allied health professional such as an osteopath.

Hopefully this blog post has deepened your understanding of injuries and yoga. If you have any questions please reach out or book into one of our osteopaths at The A Life.

Lee Hoogeveen (Osteopath)

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May 3, 2021

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