You probably practice yoga because it relieves your stress, makes your muscles flexible and strengthens them, ensures proper oxygen supply and there are numerous other benefits that brings you healthy life. But always remember, yoga exercises when performed incorrectly may end up causing injuries. Although yoga is one of the safest exercise but that doesn’t mean injuries don’t happen. Most of these injuries are not serious. You can prevent yoga injuries to stay safe.
Ways to prevent yoga injuries.
The primary objective of yoga is to provide relaxation to the mind and body. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can keep your body healthy because the poses incorporated in the yoga involves several body parts and makes them stronger.
However, if yoga poses are done incorrectly with excessive stretching it may physically harm you. Serious injuries are rare in yoga but there are certain common injuries such as twists, sprains, strains in areas like wrist, neck, shoulder, lower back, etc. which may cause severe pain.
You can prevent yoga injuries by following below mentioned tips.
1. Stop trying to be great.
This is the primary cause that leads to injury. You may feel urged to compete other people or to yourself. Therefore, you should avoid looking around the room to check if you’re acing the pose compared to others. Don’t force your body to stretch more.
You must listen to your body while participating in yoga practice. Pay attention to your body and release the pose immediately if you experience pain that is more than normal.
Read class descriptions and don’t join advance class if you’re new.
2. Perform under the guidance of a teacher.
Yoga cannot be learned on your own by just watching someone. Beginners might have poor alignment. You don’t know how to position your body to get into a posture and that might can cause some minor injury. Some beginners think that they are doing correct postures but they are not aware that they are doing it wrong. Thus, there has to be a well qualified teacher to take up your yoga classes and to teach you efficiently.
Before you join the class you must very well know the qualifications of the yoga teacher and whether they are experienced enough to teach you or not. The benefits of having a yoga teacher is that they very well know how to make you start with the simple poses and thereafter increase the difficulty level.
As you practice, you will depend less on the teacher. With continuous practice you will know how to place and position your body and therefore you minimize the risk of injury.
3. Use yoga props.
You can use props like blocks, bricks, chair, belts, etc. if you experience difficulty while getting into a pose. These are the tools you can use for your learning. These props assist you for getting into a pose but you don’t have to be dependent on them.
You must know how to use yoga props so that you can perform a posture without any pain or injury. They support you and makes you accessible to a certain pose. You can use them in different ways.
4. Always warm up.
A warm up session is really necessary before you perform yoga. Sudden stretching is not good for your body therefore cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more prone to injury. Hence, you should warm up to increase blood flow to the muscles and other body parts.
While attempting yoga or other exercises the heart suddenly works more thereby increasing the blood flow. To avoid this sudden increase in the blood flow a quick warm up session is needed to stay safe.
Every part of our life requires awareness. Therefore, pay attention and listen to your body while practicing yoga. Listen to your body and discontinue if you encounter pain that is more than usual otherwise it may cause pain or injury.
In the beginning you might lack body awareness, so pay attention to your feeling, sensations, postures and breath. Release the pose if the breath is getting too tensed. You don’t have to be crazy while performing yoga. You may ask your teacher to guide you if you are not aware of your body alignment.
Pay attention to your current state i.e. whether you are beginner or advanced and practice according to that state. The point is to be conscious and mindful of what you are doing from moment to moment.
As you develop body awareness, it will help you a lot in preventing injuries.
6. Over stretching.
Sometimes injuries occur due to excessive use of the muscles. Years of yoga practice may lead to consistent over stretching or when you suddenly increase your class frequency may injure you. You may feel urged to compete yourself and stretch your body more. Forcing yourself to these postures can be another cause of injury.
Repetitive movements, repetitive stress along with poor alignment and lack of body awareness can harm your body. Balance your strong yoga poses with the passive and gentle ones.
Ask for support from your instructor if you experience any pain or discomfort.
7. Previous injury.
You might also not be aware of any previous injury that triggers upon practicing yoga. Inform your yoga teacher about your previous injury so that he can guide you with some simple and basic postures.
Never ignore the symptoms of existing injury and visit the doctor right away. Resume your practice when you are totally recovered.
Apart from these there are also chances of getting hurt accidentally.
Body parts that are more prone to yoga injuries.
No activity is risk free. In every part of our life we have to take risk. The good news about yoga is that there are no serious injuries but you should always be careful about certain body parts while performing postures. These are ones that are more liable to get injured.
1. Lower back.
Lower back strain also referred to as pulled muscle is acute pain caused by damage to the back muscles. Lumbar muscle strain normally occurs when lower back is overstretched or while lifting some heavy object. Overstretching damages the muscle fibers and tears the ligament in the back.
Sometimes beginners keep their legs too straight and bend their back while going into a pose. These movements put stress on the back muscles and result in strain. Don’t fold your back too deep and keep a slight bend in your knees to prevent lower back issues.
Common poses that might cause lower back strain or disc injuries are forward bend and cobra pose.
Pushing yourself into forward bend may also lead to hamstring pull. Hamstring pull is a muscle pull, so the fibers that makeup hamstring muscle gets overstretched. It could be very mild like minor strain to a complete rupture of the muscles and tendons.
You’ll feel pain or strain in the back of your leg when you walk. When there is stretching of the muscle beyond its ability, the muscle gets pulled on and tear some other fibers in the leg.
To prevent hamstring pull never stretch cold muscle which is the primary cause of injuries. You can start with running and jogging to warm up and to get the blood circulating throughout the muscle. You can start stretching your muscles after a quick warm up session.
To recover from hamstring pull you should take proper rest, use anti inflammatories and consult your physician.
Knee tear results mostly due to poor alignment. Although serious knee injury does not generally happen but they are at risk when you do poses like warrior pose, half lotus pose and pigeon pose.
Make sure your knee is directly over the ankle in warrior pose and does not go in front of the ankle or sideways. Keeping your knee sideways puts pressure on the outer section of the knee, which beginners usually do.
Knee is also at risk in lotus pose where beginners pull both their ankles over their thighs. Forcing yourself to come into this pose may put pressure on your knees. You can try half lotus pose where one ankle is up on the thighs and the other ankle is under the knee. You can sit in a cross-legged position if half lotus pose is uncomfortable.
Use props like blocks to sit in a cross-legged position.
Ankle sprain happens when you have overstretched or torn ankle muscle. It may cause pain, swelling and bruising. If you have severe pain then you should immediately move to a medical practitioner.
Ankle injury may occur in kneeling pose or thunderbolt pose. In the beginning you might feel uncomfortable while performing this posture.
The best way to perform thunderbolt pose is to fold your knees and keep a wrapped blanket under your knees, so that you don’t put your entire body weight on your ankles. You can also sit on firm block. Keep your ankles and heels of both feet close. Make sure that your spine is erect.
Your shoulder might get injured if you have poor alignment or if tendons in the shoulder are overused while performing yoga. You may feel pain while lifting your arm when suffering from shoulder injury. Although injuries are not serious but you might undergo physiotherapy and anti inflammatory drugs for its treatment.
Shoulder stand and legs up the wall pose are yoga poses where you need to be careful to protect your shoulders. Don’t force yourself or compete others for getting into the posture. You should also use props if you are experiencing difficulty.
Hip is the largest joint that supports full body weight. You may suffer from hip strain due to over stretching of the muscle. Hip strain may also occur when you suddenly move from stillness to activity.
Hip injury may cause intense pain or aching in the thigh. Hips are more prone to injury because they hold the body weight and support motion.
You should be careful while performing butterfly pose. Remember not move your knees-up and down very quickly to avoid any hip injury.
Neck is one of the most sensitive part of our body. It depends on tendons, ligaments and muscles for support.
Neck strain occurs when tendons and ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity. They are capable of managing small stretches but repetitive movements may lead to injury. Strain may also occur when excess pressure is put on the neck. If you have neck strain then it means that your tendons and muscles in the neck are being partially torned.
You might experience dull pain in your neck when you move your head. Neck injury can also accompany tensions and headaches.
Headstand is a yoga pose where there is maximum risk of neck injury. While performing headstand you should keep in mind that maximum body weight is on your arms and only minimum weight is on your head. In this way you don’t put pressure on your neck and make it more light.
There is a risk when you fall while performing headstand. Always remember that you won’t hurt your neck even if you fall when maximum weight is on your hand.
Wrist is vulnerable part of our body and is not designed to bear excess weight. Our wrists might get hurt if we put undue pressure on it and due to poor alignment while performing yoga.
Wrists are at risk in poses like downward facing dog and plank pose. To avoid injury you should make sure that while performing these postures you should not keep your hands too wide or too close. Place your hands directly under the shoulders otherwise there will be pressure on the outside or inside of the wrist.
Don’t keep your palms turned outwards otherwise it might create pain and discomfort. Keep your palms flat on the floor so that the weight is evenly distributed all over the wrist.
These were the few tips you can follow to minimize injuries while doing yoga. You always need to pay attention to your alignment which is the key factor of getting hurt in yoga. Be always mindful, be in the present moment and always perform under the guidance of a certified teacher.