If you are wondering “Can I get injured doing yoga?” then read on! As with any physical exercise, there is always the risk of injury. Yoga is no different. A good rule to follow is that if it feels painful, stop doing it. Having said that, even you experience chronic pain, movement can be an effective way to bring pain relief. In this article, we discuss some tips on how to avoid yoga injuries, and keep your practice as safe as possible.
Downward Facing Dog
One of the most common poses (asanas) in yoga is downward facing dog. The nature of this pose means body weight is held through hands which can put strain on the upper body. The repetitive nature of yoga and this pose means the risk of injury becomes higher if you don’t make sure you’re practicing in a way that prevents injury. A key precaution for downward facing dog and any pose where there is weight bearing through the hands is to warm up your wrists beforehand. This can be through holding downward facing dog or any other weight bearing pose through the hands for very short lengths of time to start. Spending time rolling your wrists one way then the other is also very effective.
Whenever your hands are in contact with your mat, make sure you’re pressing your palms into the mat. This prevents your body weight being taken by the outside edge of your hands which transfers the pressure into the wrists. It is a common reason why people complain their wrists are sore after downward facing dog, so keep those palms in contact with the mat.
Fingers and toes
It’s recommended that yoga is done with bare feet. This is to increase the connection with the ground beneath you and provide better grip. The downside of this is that there’s no protection for the toes. You’ll be working with the toes tucked under (pads of the toes in contact with the mat) and toes untucked (tops of the toes in contact with the mat). Make sure you know the safest position for your toes to be in before you move into a pose.
The same is true in making sure you’re protecting your fingers. Where possible, avoid body weight being held on your finger tips. Try and have as much of you hand flat onto a surface such as your mat or a prop. The more stable the hand placement is, the less risk of becoming unbalanced and pressure being absorbed behind the hands.
If you move using momentum you have less control. Always move with purpose and control and not with momentum. This is a good way to make sure that even if you get hand or foot placement wrong, there’s less built up pressure behind any impact and a reduced chance of injury.
The head and neck
When you become more advanced in your yoga practice, you may try a shoulder stand, head stand or full wheel. These poses can put a dangerous amount of body weight on your head and neck. For this reason it’s important to get proper guidance from a yoga instructor in class or on a one-to-one basis as they are able to advise on how to avoid yoga injuries. Don’t push or force yourself in to a pose – you should be able to ease in to it.
It’s common to feel a little bit of pain or tension in the knee when doing yoga. This is most often caused by a pre-existing medical condition or previous injury. You should never lock your knee when doing straight leg pose – instead use a slight bend (or micro bend) in the knee to ease pressure. When doing lunge poses, make sure that your knee tracks over the front foot. Choose a good yoga mat to give added protection to your knees, and use yoga props to assist with your range of movement.
It’s a simple concept, but the more you’re aware of how you’re moving your body and it feels, the less likely you’re going to do something that doesn’t feel good or causes harm. If you move your body without thinking about your balance or where you’re placing your hands and feet, you’re more likely to fall. You may also place a hand or foot in a way that might be painful. If you’re aware of what’s happening, you’re body will likely take some form of preventative action. Staying present in your practice is good for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
If you experience ongoing pain, it’s worth considering these natural pain management tips. But as with any injury, it’s always best to speak to your doctor, but prevention is definitely better than cure. Have you learned anything about how to avoid yoga injuries, either in your own practice or from reading this article? Let us know in the comments below. Stay safe!