Since it can increase flexibility and balance while boosting a mindful approach to movement, yoga is often recommended as an injury prevention and rehab tool. But just because it’s low impact and some classes are labeled as “gentle,” doesn’t mean it’s an injury-free zone.
Here is a list of the five most common injuries associated with yoga and a few tips to help out!
1. HAMSTRING ATTACHMENT STRAIN Located at the top of the hamstring, where the tendon attaches to the sit bone, this tiny area deep inside the bottom of the glutes can tear slightly with repeated overstretching. Poses like forward folds can cause a strain if done too aggressively. When that happens, the tears can cause scar tissue to build up, and that can make the tendon even tighter. Often, hamstring attachment problems start because the hamstring releases and is slack as we hinge forward. That can cause a sharp tug on the attachment’s tendon, resulting in a tear.
Tip: To minimize the chances of this happening, bend the knees and consciously engage or tighten the hamstrings.
2. WRIST PAIN When it comes to medical visits that originate with yoga, wrist pain may be the top complaint. Our wrists were not meant to bear our entire weight for long periods of time. If it’s done briefly, there’s usually not much of a problem. But when the wrists are loaded with weight, over and over, then chronic pain can result. To reduce your risk, distribute your weight throughout your body, rather than pushing forward in less-intensive poses.
3. NECK TIGHTNESS Thanks to smartphones, a condition called “text neck” is now a thing. Tilting the head forward all the time can increase the load that has to be supported by the neck and spine. That can lead to weakened neck muscles that are more prone to injury in certain yoga poses, especially if you’re twisting your head one way and your body the other or trying to constantly look up in a pose like upward facing dog.
4. ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles that stabilize the shoulder. They wrap around the joint from the back, front and top, connecting the ball of the joint into the shoulder socket. Sometimes, the muscles are underworked, making them weaker, and that can make a vigorous yoga practice a bigger risk. Many yoga poses involve bringing the arms over the head. If done improperly, the rotator cuff could be at risk for problems, especially over time.
Tip: Keep your elbows close to your body rather than winging out, which can also strain weak rotator cuff muscles.
5. LOWER BACK PAIN - One of the most commonly injured areas for any person is the low back. Often back pain is related to overstressing the muscles and ligaments around the spine. Many times, improving the flexibility in the hips and mid back can be helpful in reducing stresses to the spine. That way each joint is able to take its fair share of force. Yoga can be very helpful with this. But, if the yoga movements are not controlled with good strength, the low back can sometimes be overstressed.
Tip: If you aren't feeling a yoga move in multiple body regions, be aware, and if you feel your lower back area is overstressed, check with your instructor to make sure your mechanics are sound.
Remember challenging yourself can feel satisfying, but it’s very helpful to understand the difference between going a few steps outside your comfort zone and leaving it completely. Listen to your body, adjust according to your needs and increase the level of difficulty gradually. That way, you’ll get all of the benefits with fewer injury risks. As always it's best to consult your trusted physical therapist before starting any new workout regimen, we can help you prevent a future injury.
Reach out to us today at Judice Sports & Rehab