People have practiced yoga since the fifth or sixth century BCE. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that yoga became a popular form of exercise. Some common yoga styles practiced in the U.S. include Hatha, Anusara, Bikram, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Flow and Kripalu.
While yoga can help improve your strength, flexibility, balance and well-being, like any form of exercise, there is also a risk of yoga-related injuries to the lower extremities, such as the lower back, hip, knee and hamstring. Here are some common reasons for these types of injuries.
- Your instructor pushes you to perform a pose beyond your ability.
- Your instructor makes a hands-on adjustment to a pose you’re performing that’s beyond the physical limits of your body.
- Your instructor may not have enough yoga training, leading to improper instruction.
- Your class size may be too large for your instructor to provide adequate supervision of each person’s performance.
- Your instructor may encourage competition between students or within yourself, pushing you too far, too fast for your abilities.
- You perform the same poses repeatedly over time, leading to repetitive strain and musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
- You push yourself to reach full extensions in poses before your body is ready to perform the extension.
Some ways you can prevent yoga-related injuries are:
- Perform warm-up stretches before your yoga workout.
- Receive proper instruction before trying yoga on your own to ensure you’re performing poses correctly.
- Before taking a class, ask if the instructor is knowledgeable in injury prevention.
- Listen to your body – don’t push yourself beyond your abilities.
- Be aware of your muscle strength and endurance levels before trying more advanced poses.
- Know your range of motion limits before pushing your body into a pose.
- Use blocks, bolsters, folded blankets and straps to modify poses, if needed, until you can perform the pose unaided. For pose variations, modifications, contraindications and other information, refer to the Yoga Journal.
- Be aware that yoga in a hot environment can lead to poor judgment that causes you to push yourself too far into a pose, leading to musculoskeletal injuries.
- Realize that flow yoga may predispose you to injuries since you will move quickly from pose to pose, likely, without achieving good body alignment.
- Understand that increasing the frequency of your yoga workouts or your intensity level too rapidly can lead to a higher risk of injuries.
By being cognizant of the injury risks associated with yoga, you can take steps to ensure you stay safe and injury free.
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