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Common Yoga Injuries & How To Avoid Them

Although yoga originated in India, it's now practised all over the world. More than 30 million people worldwide practice yoga daily. Yoga has a number of health benefits for your body and mind.

However, along with benefits, yoga has its own share of risks too. The risks are yoga injuries. According to a study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, older adults are more susceptible to yoga injuries [1] .

Yoga injuries include back pain, strained neck, popped ribs etc. which might occur in tougher yoga poses like backbends, headstands, handstands, vajrasana, and inversions.

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Common Yoga Injuries & How To Avoid Them

1. Lower back injury

Yoga poses like seated or standing forward bend (Uttanasana) can cause an injury in the lower back. To avoid injury, strengthen your spine when you inhale and exhale every time. Lower back strain can also occur when you do backbend yoga poses.

2. Wrist pain

Most yoga practitioners or beginners experience wrist pain which occurs mostly when you do a downward dog pose. It happens because most people aren't used to being on their wrists, so the delicate joints that connect the hand to the forearm are more pressurized [2] .

To avoid wrist pain, spread your fingers evenly wide on the mat.

3. Neck pain

If you are a beginner to headstands, it's important to know that putting excess pressure on your neck can cause a neck injury or strain. To avoid a neck strain, put most of the weight on your arms and shoulders while in headstand.

4. Hamstrings tears and pulls

Too much sitting causes the hamstrings to tighten, and when you start doing yoga it leads to tears and pulls as you overstretch your hamstrings. Try doing flexible exercises at first to avoid pulling and tearing of the hamstrings.

Tips To Avoid Yoga Injuries

1. Stretch yourself

Loosen tight muscle areas such as the calves, hips, and hamstrings. Warm up your body first by doing stretching exercises before you start any yoga pose. Stretching exercises help to loosen muscles that might be prone to pulls.

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2. Stick to easy yoga poses

If you are a person who is susceptible to dizziness and muscle cramps, avoid doing hot yoga (Bikram yoga). Learn the beginner styles from an experienced yoga teacher so that you can build your practice safely from the ground level.

3. Try resistant training

Resistant training aids in lowering compensations by building strength in weak areas of the body. Based on your physical abilities, try doing full-body resistant exercises several times per week daily.

4. Practice yoga cautiously

Do not try doing yoga on your own, especially if you are a first timer. Always practice with a trained yoga teacher. Talk to your teacher about which areas of your body are weak and which yoga poses you are comfortable with.

Yoga Poses With A Lower Risk Of Injury

1. Lunge - This yoga pose is great for building strength in the legs, thereby stretching the hamstrings.

2. Gentle side bend - Gentle side bend is an easy yoga pose.

3. Squat (chair pose) - This yoga pose is a great exercise for your butt, back, core and thighs.

4. Forward bend - It stretches the hamstrings and back.

5. Breathing yoga exercise (Pranayama) - It warms up the body and calms your anxiety levels.

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View Article References
  1. [1] Swain, T. A., & McGwin, G. (2016). Yoga-related injuries in the United States from 2001 to 2014.Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine,4(11), 2325967116671703.
  2. [2] Marc Campo, Mariya P. Shiyko, Mary Beth Kean, Lynne Roberts, Evangelos Pappas.Musculoskeletal pain associated with recreational yoga participation: A prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up.Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2017;
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Story first published: Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 18:30 [IST]