Yoga can increase muscle strength, flexibility and in some cases ease low back pain. Studies show this ancient practice can also decrease anxiety and depression.
When it’s practiced correctly, yoga may also provide relief for bone, joint and muscle-related pain. Problems arise, however, when people don’t use proper technique. Injuries from yoga — when done incorrectly — can cause serious muscle damage, including strain and overstretching of the neck, shoulders, spine, legs and knees, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
In 2016, nearly 24,000 people sought relief at their doctor’s office and in the emergency room, statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show.
“The key to a successful yoga workout is using proper form,” said Brett Freedman, MD, an AAOS spokesperson and orthopaedic spine and trauma surgeon. “When the technique of yoga is compromised, the body is placed at an increased risk of injury. New participants should work with a qualified instructor until they are confident in their practice.”
To help people prevent injuries during yoga, the AAOS recommends the following safety tips:
- Consult your doctor before taking a yoga class if you have any medical conditions or injuries.
- Discuss any known illness or injury with your yoga instructor before class so that he or she can recommend modifications.
- Know what type of yoga you are practicing. There are hundreds of different forms of yoga, some more strenuous than others. It is important to learn which type of yoga best suits your needs.
- Select the class level that is appropriate for you. Beginners should start slowly and learn the basics first — such as breathing — rather than trying to stretch too far.
- Wear appropriate clothing that allows for proper movement.
- Warm up thoroughly before a yoga session — cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
- If you are unsure of a pose or movement, ask questions.
- Know your limits. Do not try positions beyond your experience or comfort level.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, especially if you’re taking a hot yoga class.
- Listen to your body. If you experience pain or exhaustion while participating in yoga, stop or take a break. If pain persists, talk to your doctor.
+ Learn about The Spine Center of Hampton Roads which helps patients of all ages with back and neck pain. Our specialists use X-ray, MRI, CT, bone scan and other advanced diagnostic tools to evaluate each patient’s individual needs. Physical therapy is available at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy locations throughout Hampton Roads.