The health and wellbeing benefits of yoga are well established. Practicing at a level that’s right for you can increase strength, flexibility and balance and reduce stress. As with any sport or physical activity, there is always the risk of injury.
Common yoga injuries
Poor technique and over stretching are common causes of yoga injuries to tendons, cartilage and lower vertebral discs. Research and our experience of advising and treating our yoga practicing clients, suggests that the most frequent injures include:
- Lower back injuries linked to forward bending poses which may flex your spine in ways that stress discs and muscles
- Neck injuries linked to inverted poses that compress the cervical vertebrae
- Hamstring injuries linked to over stretching
- Knee injuries including meniscus tears linked to tight hip flexors, locking the knees and forgetting to keep a slight bend in your knees when stretching
- Achilles tendon injuries linked to over stretching
- Wrist injuries linked to exposing your wrists to unaccustomed levels of pressure and force and incorrect hand and arm alignment
5 ways to reduce your risk of yoga injuries
Minimise your injury risk by preparing well, practicing within your capability and using the mindful self-awareness that has underpinned yoga practice for centuries.
Choose the right teacher
Find an experienced teacher who:
- asks about your yoga experience and intentions and any past or current injuries
- confirms that the classes they offer are suitable for you
- corrects your alignment during class
- suggests alternatives to poses that you are better off avoiding
Look for teachers and studios with strong reputations, ask friends and colleagues
who they recommend.
Easy does it
Warm up before your class and start slowly. Ease into and out of each pose. Use props – Blocks, bolsters and straps can help protect you against over stretching.
Set your own pace
Beware of feeling like you need to compete or even ‘keep up’ with others in your class. Everyone’s strength and flexibility differs and yours will also differ from day to day. Listen to your body and back off if you feel pain or pressure of any kind.
Stay hydrated and stay until the end
Even if hot yoga is not your preferred style, pack a water bottle and sip from it between poses. Stay for the final relaxation (shavasana). This is designed to help consolidate the benefits of your practice by allowing your body and your mind quieten and relax.
See your physio
Before you begin to practice or any time afterwards, your physio can conduct a full biomechanical assessment. This includes checking your alignment and levels of strength and flexibility and any susceptibility to yoga related injuries. They can advise you on any potentially problematic poses that you may be wise to avoid.
Finally, if you do get injured at yoga, your Brisbane Spine Clinic Physiotherapist can tailor a rehabilitation plan to help get you back on the mat as soon as possible.
Have a question about protecting your yoga practice? Have a yoga related injury? Book an appointment now.