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What are the most common yoga injuries and how to avoid them?

Aug 28, 2020

We all know that yoga is an excellent way to keep ourselves healthy and fit. Practicing yoga is a great way to keep our bodies flexible, strong, and active. However, it also not uncommon to get injured while practicing yoga. as we all know very well by now, yoga poses require correct balance and breathing to gain maximum benefits. But what most people end up doing is that they do not pay enough attention while working on the balance. Also, many people get excited and try to poses that are beyond their body limits. The body needs to be built slowly for certain yoga asanas and this is why it is always advisable to begin your yoga practice under the guidance of an expert. 

Prevention of yoga injuries must be taken seriously. One may end up hurting their neck, head, shoulders, back, and deep tissues of the body. Yoga is often known for healing body injuries and it even helps to increase flexibility and balance in the body. But just because there are many benefits, it doesn’t mean that yoga is an injury-free practice. The good thing here is that usually, most yoga injuries are not severe, and they can be cured, including strains, fractures, dislocations, and, even nerve damage and stroke. But, the truth is that injuries can happen at any time. Most yoga injuries occur because of consistent overstretching, non-focus, and misalignment. So, to avoid these injuries you have to learn the correct methods of performing yoga asanas with proper alignment and focus. 

What are some tips for avoiding the most common yoga injuries?

Yoga often offers a good way to warm up before many activities, it even helps to lower the risk of injuries. But, you have to know the correct methods of doing yoga asanas, otherwise improper form of yoga can cause problems. Here are some most common issues, along with the tips on how to avoid them:

  • How to avoid wrist injuries?

The wrist is a very small joint and is mostly aggravated by overuse while texting or computer work. Many yoga poses are recommended by experts for the wrist. When we start doing these yoga asanas, initially our body is not used to. Yoga poses like Plank pose, Downward Facing Dog Pose, crow pose, and other arm balances if performed in a wrong manner, can cause wrist pain. 

So, focus on your wrist and hands alignment while performing yoga asanas, even if it’s a basic pose. According to yoga experts, first, you should warm up properly, before putting your full weight on your wrists. Thus, make sure to spread your weight evenly on both the wrists, especially between the knuckles of the thumb and the palm.

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Here are some tips to further prevent wrist injury.

  • Avoid the turning of the fingers inward.

  • Place the wrists and hands shoulder-width apart.

  • Avoid taking your shoulders far forward from your wrists.

  • Make use of a rolled mat, or you can even use a towel to put extra pressure off the wrists.

  • You can also place the knees on the floor to modify your yoga poses while building strength in your wrists as well as shoulders.

  • How to avoid lower back injuries?

As you know, lower back strain is the most common yoga injury, because of the rounding through the spine in many yoga poses like downward dog, forward folds, etc. Rounding of the spine can also lead to lower back muscular problems and disc problems. While performing yoga if you overstretch (yoga stretching) your muscles or force muscles into elongation, it can cause such issues. Moreover, it can also hurt your sacroiliac joint which connects the sacrum and the bones of the pelvis and also helps to support the spine. 

According to yoga experts, most people hurt their ligaments around their lower back while performing yoga poses like half-moon pose or warrior 3 pose, with one leg floating in the air. One of the best ways to avoid the lower back injury (Yoga For Back pain) is by equally spreading the toes out. This helps draw the muscles of the legs towards the bones, and also helps to take the whole pressure away from the SI joint. It also brings balance, stability, and develops inner strength. Balance and stability are the ways to safety.

 

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Here are some tips to further prevent lower back injury.

  • To decompress the lower back, try to bend the knees in forward folds.

  • If possible, try to keep a small bend in the knees throughout the yoga practice.

  • Make sure to slow down while twisting and change poses very slowly with deep breaths.

  • Try to engage the lower belly, as it provides core strength to your lower back. 

  • While lying down, keep the legs hip-width apart.

  • How to avoid Hamstring's injuries?

Most people suffer from tight hamstrings while practicing yoga incorrectly.  Mostly, hamstring injuries occur when you try to increase the flexibility in this particular part of your body, without even taking consideration that how weak these muscles can initially be. Weak hamstrings often lead to pulls and tears when you overstretch them. Forward hinging in yoga is one of the main reason which leads to the hamstring injury. It can also cause a sharp tug on the attachment’s tendon, which further can result in a tear. 

Thus, it’s very important to build strength in the legs before you begin out zoning in on flexibility. Hamstring injuries are also the most common Ashtanga yoga injury.

 

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Here are some tips to further prevent Hamstring injury.

  • Bend your knees and try to tighten the hamstrings. 

  • Do make sure to balance the forward folds with a strong chair pose., while performing yoga. 

  • Make sure not to force any uncomfortable movements during your yoga practice.

  • How to avoid neck injuries?

If you are new to yoga, it's important to be aware of the pressure you are putting on your neck. This injury can cause many problems in your daily life, and it takes more time to heal as compared to the other injuries. Yoga and neck injuries are correlated to each for those who do not perform yoga with correct balance and alignment. There are many styles of yoga causing neck pains when not done correctly. For example aerial yoga, padangusthasana, etc.

Thus, make sure to put the more bodyweight on the arms and shoulders in the headstand. You must essentially feel nothing in the neck at all, while you are upside down. Yoga poses like the Camel Pose, where most people let their head fall back, in a way that looks like it’s releasing the neck muscles. But it ends up putting more pressure on them.

 

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Here are some tips to further prevent neck injury.

  • If you don’t know how to perform the pose, take the help of a yoga teacher. Do not perform alone.

  • Also, avoid letting the neck and head release, so the whole weight of the head is tipped backward. This can cause strain to the front of the neck and can also cause compression in the neck.

  • How to avoid Rotator Cuff injuries?

There are many yoga asanas which involve the bringing of the arms over the head. If you perform these exercises incorrectly, your rotator cuff can be at risk for many problems. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles. These muscles help to stabilize the shoulder. They are wrapped around our joint from the front, back, and top, and also connects the ball of the joint with the shoulder socket.

There are many times when the muscles are underworked. It makes the muscle weaker and, thus, it can lead a vigorous yoga practice into a big risk. Poses that rely on the shoulder strength often overtax the rotator cuff and causes compression and inflammation.

 

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Here are some tips to further prevent rotate cuff injury.

  • While doing push-ups variations keep the knees on the floor or you can lower by a few inches, before pushing back up. 

  • Try to keep your elbows close to the body, if you set them loose it can strain weak rotator cuff muscles.

  • One of the best methods to protect your cuff is by strengthening the arms.  

  • How to avoid Shoulders and Elbows injuries?

The most common yoga injuries which people encounter are stress or strain injuries. Mostly these injuries are caused to the musculoskeletal system or the nervous system because of the forceful exertion. The main reason behind Repetitive Strain Injuries is repeatedly performing a yoga pose incorrectly or overdoing a specific pose or a series of yoga poses. Most people repeatedly perform chaturanga dandasana and vinyasa yoga incorrectly and injure their shoulders. 

These days in yoga classes, teachers wish more students to modify or skip the chaturanga pose, if they are feeling fatigued already. During this time there are high chances of poorer alignment, deterioration, and injury to their shoulders and arms.

While performing chaturanga Dandasana, more stress is laid on the shoulder joint. It mostly affects the upper arm bone and the upper chest bone of your body. However, the congestion between these two bones often leads to inflammation and muscle strain of the tissues. 

 

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Here are some tips to further prevent shoulders and elbows injury.

  • These types of injuries can be avoided by reaching the chest forward while you are lowering your body and also by pushing the heels back.

  • This will help to stretch out the weight of the torso in two different directions and will take the pressure off the shoulder.

  • In other poses, try to keep your shoulders held back and down.

  • Try to keep your shoulders away from your ears and if you feel any kind of sensitivity in the shoulders, you can modify the pose.

  • While performing upward facing dog pose, try to broaden your collarbones while pressing fully by your palms.

  • In any kind of stretch or bind, be sure not to pull too hard on your shoulders

The yoga injury rate is increasing worldwide. So, while implementing strategies specifically for these particular areas, some general principles need to kept in mind while performing yoga asanas. You have already read about the tips above. These injuries mostly occur when students practice yoga too aggressively, they try to make every conversion into a power pose, and without enough warmup, they also tend to perform more complex poses without much experience.

Many people believe that if they practice more if they do deeper stretching, it is going to benefit them. They often take these as challenges that they need to overcome. They try to push beyond their body limits and it leads to many injuries. Challenging can feel very satisfying, but it can cause many problems when done without adequate experience and training. Thus, it is best to try and find a balance between performing a yoga pose outside your comfort zone and completely leaving it. Work according to your body, modify the poses according to your needs, and try to increase the level of difficulty slowly. In this way, you’ll get more benefits and there will be less injury risks.

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