Yoga-related injuries on the rise
‘There is a high focus on pictures to attract likes, so people may be pushing themselves without enough preparation or warm up to get into those poses just for the sake of a picture’
The number of people with serious Yoga-related injuries are on the rise, according to an Australian study that warns people to practice yogic poses with caution.
Researchers from Central Queensland University in Australia analysed all yoga injuries presented at emergency departments between 2009 and 2016 in Victoria.
They found that Yoga-related injuries that were serious enough to land people in local emergency department rose by almost 80 per cent during that time and ranged mainly from knee injuries, shoulder dislocations to head and neck injuries.
"I think people know the correct technique, but they might be pushing themselves too early, especially if you look into the influencers on social media," said Betul Sekendiz of Central Queensland University.
"There is a high focus on pictures to attract likes, so people may be pushing themselves without enough preparation or warm up to get into those poses just for the sake of a picture," said Sekendiz.
"I think on social media, the most frequent pose we see females performing is the headstand,'' he said. The study found 66 recorded cases of yoga injuries and almost 10 per cent of those injuries were serious enough for the person to be admitted to hospital for further treatment. "I am not saying we should stop doing yoga, but we need to look into what's going wrong here," Sekendiz said.
An article published in The New York Times investigating the prevalence of yoga-related injuries found that several factors seem to be related to the rising number of pulls, tears and sprains prevalent among yogis. A major contributing factor is a shift in both those who teach and practice yoga. More than ever before, adults who are mostly otherwise sedentary and unfamiliar with the practice are turning to yoga to improve flexibility and strength. While this can be helpful in many instances when students are properly guided, a tight, inactive or aging body mixed with a vigorous practice or an experienced teacher can also sometimes serve as a recipe for disaster.
"As with any other form of physical practice, yoga should be practiced carefully under the guidance of a qualified instructor in order to reduce risk. If you've been injured in the past, or have been mostly sedentary, consider
skipping some of the riskiest poses all together", suggests draxe.com.
Five ways to avoid injuries
1. Gently stretch tight areas
Stretching (and similar dynamic movements like calisthenics) should always be done mindfully, gently and slowing. Take your time loosening tight areas — such as the hips, calves or hamstring — being careful not to move too quickly into any poses. Try to warm the body up before any vigorous practice with some dynamic stretching, since this helps to loosen muscles that might be prone to pulls. It's okay to feel mild to moderate resistance while stretching or bending, but be careful not to push past your limits.
2. Reduce muscular compensations through regular strength-training
In addition to doing yoga, resistance-training and "functional exercise" can help reduce compensations by building strength in weak areas. Focus on regularly doing cardiovascular and full-body resistance exercises several times per week based on your physical abilities.
3. Practice yoga cautiously (Especially if you're a beginner)
You should always practice yoga with a trained and qualified teacher, but still be careful to listen to your body during practice. Don't assume that any teacher knows exactly how to modify postures to suit your specific needs, and don't assume that you should be able to bend or move in ways that other students can.
4. Consider sticking to gentler styles
If you're susceptible to dizziness, muscle cramps or the effects of heat and dehydration, keep in mind that hot yoga (Bikram) might not be the best match for you. Try to ease your way into any yoga practice by attending basic/beginner classes or workshops, or even trying restorative/yin yoga at first which move at a slower pace.
5. Use props for support
Props including yoga blocks, straps, blankets or even a wall or chair can really come in handy. These are especially useful for yoga newbies, the elderly or those recovering from injuries.