The Three Most Common Yoga Injuries
and how to avoid them
Yoga is a wonderful way to keep your mind, body and soul healthy and happy. However, when we push ourselves too hard or are a new practitioner we run the risk of injuring ourselves and putting our practice on hold for an indefinite amount of time. We’ve gathered the three most common injuries in yoga as well as how you can avoid them and incorporate useful tips into your practice.
#3: Hamstring Pulls and Tears
The third most common injury that yogi’s experience is pulling or tearing the hamstring muscles. This is usually caused by pushing the muscles to stretch further than they’re ready to or trying to enter a pose too quickly.
To Avoid Hamstring Injuries:
Always warm up your hamstrings before trying more advanced poses. A great way to do this is by beginning your practice with a gentle seated forward fold followed by leg extensions (lay on your mat, legs extend straight on the inhale and bring your knees to your chest on the exhale). Overall awareness of your body is key for preventing injury. You should never push yourself into a pose that your body isn’t ready for. If you are feeling sharp pain or burning in your hamstrings while practicing, this is a signal from your body to stop.
#2: Lower Back Pain
Lower Back Pain is the second most common injury in yoga. This is usually caused by rounding the spine or keeping your legs locked in poses which can cause your lower back muscles to strain while they try to keep you steady in the pose.
To Avoid Lower Back Injuries:
When entering poses, imagine that you’re lengthening the spine through the top of your head. This will help to keep your back straight and prevent you from rounding the shoulders. If your chest is collapsing in toward your back, you’re rounding your spine. Another way to prevent this injury is to engage your core in backbends and balancing poses. This helps to take some pressure off of your lower back and more evenly distributes the work among your muscles, plus you’re working on your abs.
#1: Wrist Injuries
The most common injury that is experienced through yoga practice is in the wrists. This is usually caused by not warming up the wrist muscles before practice and by dumping our all of our body weight into them in poses such as downward dog and side plank.
To Avoid Wrist Injuries:
From table top position (standing on your palms and knees), point your finger tips toward your knees and give them a gentle stretch by adding movement front to back. Simple circles in both directions is another great way to warm up the muscles in your wrists. To prevent your wrists from taking the brunt of your body weight, ensure you are stacking your joints on top of one another. For example, always stack your shoulder over your wrist in side plan position. Another tip is to press your entire palm into your mat and grip with all ten fingers to alleviate your body weight from dumping entirely into your wrists in positions such as downward facing dog. These tips are especially important in more advanced poses.
Another major factor in avoiding yoga injuries is practicing mindfulness. Asana (physical postures) is just one of eight limbs that make up the entire practice of Yoga. Practicing pranayama (breathing techniques) and dharana (focused concentration) are also major factors in having a healthy practice. Focusing on the breath during asana helps you to be more mindful with your movements and the signals your body is sending you while meditation promotes mindfulness in all aspects of your life, helping to keep your stress levels low and your focus high. Keep these tips in mind while on your mat and you’ll be able to avoid these injuries while going deeper into your practice and within yourself. Namaste.