While you may not necessarily associate yoga with getting injured, the truth of the matter is that not even yoga is completely injury-free. While it may not be anything near a contact sport, stretching can sometimes prove detrimental to your muscles, especially if you make a sudden movement. On the plus side, any injury sustained during a yoga class is most often mild and will heal in a few days. Let’s take a quick look at the most common injuries, and the manners in which you can prevent them.
How common is pain?
Two notable studies have been conducted on the subject of yoga injuries, one in Finland and one in Australia, and they have found that the rate of ouch on the mat is less than 3% of the total number of practitioners. Compared to other sports, this number may seem radically low, and the chances that you might be a part of that percentage – miniscule. However, better to be safe than sorry, and knowing what to expect can do no harm.
Here are some of the most common injuries you can suffer during a yoga class:
Injuries to the lower back are the most common while performing poses where you need to keep your legs straight, like the Forward Bend or the Downward Dog.
Knee injuries are again caused by improper leg alignment, particularly if you try to flex further than your leg is willing to cooperate. Odds are you will feel the pain early enough to prevent any truly serious injury, but you might be forced to stay off your feet for a few days.
Injuries to your wrists are less common, and usually afflict those who already suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and similar wrist ailments. Naturally, the poses which are most straining are those which cause you to place most of your bodyweight on your arms.
The scariest injuries in the bunch are of course those which impact your neck, and like arm injuries, they can occur during poses such as the Camel, Upward Dog and Plow. If you do feel a sudden pain in your neck, make sure you don’t make any overly sudden movements, as you may inadvertently cause even more harm.
Whenever you start to experience pain, relax your body slowly, and return to the starting position.
How to prevent the pain
The first thing you can reasonably do in order to prevent getting injured is to use your common sense – don’t pull too hard when your body does not feel like cooperating, and don’t force it to bend too much too soon. Your ego is most often the one causing the pain, as you try to imitate more experienced yogis.
Another important point to be made speaks in favor of practical, everyday things – make sure your mat is in one piece, and that it’s made of quality materials. Make sure you sanitize the area you use, for example using Caviwipes, and that you don’t leave your stuff lying around the room.
Other than that, the most reasonable thing you can do is listen to your instructor, and try to perform every asana to the very best of your ability. If you think you are unable to bend all the way, stop and don’t force your body. It takes a significant amount of time to get into the shape you wish to reach, and there are no shortcuts on the way.
Hopefully this short guide has helped you ensure both your safety and enjoyment during your next class! Remember that working out is supposed to be about fun, and not about pain.