Yoga is gaining popularity throughout the world due to health benefits like improved flexibility and strength. It also helps in reducing anxiety and stress levels. But the same yoga, if performed incorrectly can cause harm to the body.
While most yoga injuries aren’t severe and go unreported, more serious issues do occur, including strains and sprains, fractures, dislocations and in rare cases, bone spurs, sciatic nerve damage and stroke. According to yoga experts, injuries can happen any time, in any sport, or even walking down the sidewalk — and scary injuries are rare. Most yoga injuries develop gradually over years of consistent over-stretching and misalignment. As with any physical activity, the safest approach to yoga is to learn how to practice the poses correctly and stay in tune with your body to avoid overdoing it. Following are common yoga injuries:
- Elbows: Joint pain in the elbows can result from bending them out to the sides in poses like chaturanga. While it may be easier to execute, lowering down with outward pointing elbows can stress the joint and can also put undue stress on the wrists.
- Wrists: When it comes to the wrists, it’s all about leverage. Placing all of the body’s weight in the wrists when the hands are on the mat can lead to muscle and joint injuries.
- Shoulders: Shrugging also compresses the shoulders, which can cause muscle injuries. It’s easy to injure the shoulder girdle or rotator cuff (and even dislocate the joint) by over-extending or over-stretching.
- Ribs: Twists are awesome for releasing tension, but if done improperly they can overextend or bruise the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs).
- Lower back: Lower back pain is the most frequently cited yoga injury and it’s likely the result of rounding through the spine in poses like forward folds.
- Hamstrings: Spend most days sitting in front of the computer, in class, or in the car? Guilty as charged. As a result, many of us have tight hamstrings, so it’s easy to pull or over-stretch them in poses like forward bends.
- Hips: It’s easy to over-extend the hips’ range of motion in splits, warrior poses, and wide-legged forward folds which might tear the muscles of the inner groin or inner thighs.
- Knee: Knee issues can plague even experienced yogis well after class . A common culprit of pain is the cross-legged position. Flexibility carries from the hips first; if the hips are tight in the pose, the knees will be the first place to feel pain or tension.
- Neck: Head and shoulder stands can be the worst culprits for neck pain and injury. Repeatedly and incorrectly placing pressure on the neck in poses such as shoulder stand and headstand can compress the neck and put pressure on the cervical vertebrae, resulting in joint issues and in some cases, loss of neck flexion.