By now you’re likely aware of all the benefits of yoga for the body and the mind. A regular yoga session can improve sleep, reduce stress, and increase flexibility. September is National Yoga Month, and there’s no better time to celebrate the glorious practice! However, if you’re not careful, you can experience yoga injuries, especially to your wrists, shoulders, and lower back. Take a look at four of the most common injuries and learn how to prevent them so you can perform yoga safely.
- 4 Most Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them
- The Top Pre-Yoga Stretches to Prevent Injuries
- Stay Safe When Practicing Yoga
4 Most Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Whether you’re jumping into yoga for beginners or heading to an intermediate hot yoga class, injuries can happen in any type of exercise. While most yoga injuries aren’t severe, there is a risk of injury, especially with new practitioners. As with any sport or physical activity, the safest way to approach yoga is to learn how to get your body into the poses correctly. By learning about what the most common yoga injuries are, you’ll be able to better prevent them.
There are a ton of different types of yoga poses, but a lot of them tend to involve the wrists. When you first start yoga, your wrists need to build up their strength. Poses like downward dog and plank require you to put a lot of pressure on your wrists. If you perform these poses incorrectly, it can spark annoying wrist pain.
In a survey of more than 1300 yoga teachers, the most frequent injuries occurred to the wrist, lower back, neck, knee, and shoulder. Factors like poor technique and instruction were common causes of injury.
To avoid wrist injuries, it’s crucial that you warm up properly and slowly add more pressure to your wrists. You can do this by modifying poses and taking the weight off with your knees on the floor. Try to spread your weight evenly through your fingers and avoid rolling your shoulders too far forward. As you build up your wrist strength, you can take your knees off the ground and progress the movement.
Another common injury during yoga is to the shoulders. Shoulder injuries tend to occur from repeatedly doing a pose incorrectly. It’s easy, especially when you’re not thinking about it, to shrug your shoulders right up to your ears during yoga, but you need to remember to relax your shoulders. When you go from having your shoulders up by your ears to suddenly trying to over-stretch, this can result in an injury. Try to be aware of your shoulders; they should be back and away from your ears as much as possible throughout your practice.
Many people feel tension or pressure on their knees during a yoga class. When you feel discomfort in your knees during yoga, it’s most likely an issue with tight hips or a pre-existing problem. If you already have problems with your knees, you need to be extra careful with yoga. Flexibility in your knees stems from your hips. So, if you have tight hips, you will feel that pressure in your knees.
Your positioning is everything in avoiding knee injuries. Your knee should be above your ankle in lunge poses. Try not to lock out your knee as you move through poses; you should have a micro-bend wherever possible. If you’re new to yoga, the best way to avoid injuries is to go to a couple of classes with a yoga practitioner who can offer safe guidance.
Lower Back Injuries
The lower back is another area that tends to be a common yoga injury. This is especially true in poses where you round the spine like downward dog and forward fold. Often, the injury occurs when you over-stretch or try to force your muscles into a pose. Sometimes, people can also hurt the ligaments in their lower back in poses like Warrior III, when one leg is floating.
To avoid lower back injuries, you should keep a micro-bend in your knees throughout your practice. A strong core contributes to a strong back, so engage your core. As you move into a forward fold, bend your knees first so that your back can decompress.
The Top Pre-Yoga Stretches to Prevent Injuries
The average yoga class runs for about sixty minutes. Warming up before your class can help to get your body and mind in the right space. Although your yoga practice should involve a warm-up, often your body can still benefit from an extra stretch before class.
Start with some pranayama yoga techniques. Deep breathing creates a strong foundation for any style of yoga. It helps to heat your body and muscles while allowing you to move into a deeper practice. Next, you can move into a cat-cow pose to gently open up the spine and shoulders.
One of the best ways to prevent injury is through correct form and proper guidance. If you plan on starting a new style of yoga, make sure that you’re aware of what you will be doing. For example, a practice with restorative yoga is much more gentle on the body than Ashtanga yoga. By understanding the style of yoga, you can make sure that it’s right for you.
Stay Safe When Practicing Yoga
Proper form and alignment are key to safe yoga, but they are not the only factors at play. Here are some tips to follow to avoid yoga injuries:
- Warm-up with basic stretches.
- Build up your strength slowly.
- Get to know your teacher and share any injuries you have or have had.
- Use props and modifications.
- Come out of poses slowly.
- Don’t lock out your joints.
Whether you practice at home or in a studio, National Yoga Month is the perfect time to celebrate yoga and its benefits. Like any exercise, it’s essential that you perform yoga in the correct form and alignment to prevent injuries. Always listen to your body, take it slow, and stay mindful.