Although yoga may seem like a peaceful and calm exercise with the aim to heal and nourish the body, injuries still occur. Here are the 4 most common yoga injuries, and some useful tips on how to prevent them.
Hamstring injury and sits bone pain
This type of pain may feel like a dull and stiff sensation in the back of the legs, or a sharp pain where the hamstrings attach to the sitting bones. Since this injury is common among all kinds of practitioners, from beginners to advanced students, it is still unknown from where in the practice this injury is caused, but not unlikely it has something to do with forward folding. Pressing your body into forward folds, and hanging out your hamstrings may be a reason for damage over time, and it is easier than you think to do this, especially when your body becomes more flexible.
Chaturanga: Moving from plank to upward dog is one of the most common transitions done in yoga. Even though this can be a great strengthener for the shoulders and the shoulder girdle, it may also be a devastating exercise for the shoulders and the upper back when done with wrong technique. Too much pressure on the shoulder joint may result in lack of stability in the joint, and thus cause pain. To use a right technique in every pose when you put pressure on your shoulders, double check your hand placement in chaturanga to make sure your shoulders are straight over your wrists. Never let the shoulders raise towards your ears in up dog, this will take the weight from your supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders and neck and put too much pressure in the joint. Also pay attention not to overstretch the shoulders in downward facing dog.
Pain in and around the knees that evolves over time is very common among yoga practitioners. Knee pain may arise from an injury in the meniscus or a torn or overstretched ligament. Knee pain is a severe injury and should always be taken care of. After an injury of the meniscus, the risk of getting arthritis later in life is much higher.
Many yoga poses require a lot of flexibility in the hip joint, if this is not the case, and you still want to fit your body into a certain pose, pressure tends to affect the knee joint in first since this is a much weaker joint than the hip. Be careful with your knees; never allow any sensation in the knees in your practice, any pain in the knee is a sign to back off from the pose causing the pain. Never lock the joints, micro bend the joint and stabilize it by engaging more muscles, this will help build more strength over time.
The neck is a delicate structure, designed to hold up the weight of your head, but not balance on it. Tension in the shoulders, back and upper body have a tendency to manifest as pain in the neck. In poses where you put pressure directly on the neck like shoulder stand or headstand, it is of great importance you build up strength over time before doing the full expression of these poses. Make sure you do these poses with the correct technique; ask a yoga teacher if you are uncertain.
Useful tips to avoid injury
Always be aware of sensations in your body, and know the good sensations from the bad. Sharp burning sensations, as well as, sensations from the joints are signs to back off!
Don’t let your ego get in the way. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body as opposed to comparing it to someone else’s. Don’t push yourself!
Move in and out of poses with control and awareness.
Modify poses if you need to, make the asana fits your body instead of making your body fit the asana. Ask a yoga teacher if you need to find modifications.
One final note: Take a few days to rest and recuperate from the injury. Always seek the advice of a doctor if you continue to have pain. Take your time and rest when needed. There is no destiny to reach!
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