Preventing yoga injuries is essential for a safe practice of yoga. Have you experienced that shooting pain in the wrists while holding a Plank Pose? Or a tingling sensation in your neck as you gaze up in Parsva Konasana? Well, yoga is a great science form to look forward to losing weight or stress. But, remember that it is also not devoid of certain minor snags. And, these hurdles arise mostly due to our overzealousness and negligence.
So, what can you do to prevent those injuries? Just focus on the quality and the quantity. Honor your body and the poses. Rest assured, and you will be safe from injuries. This article takes a closer look at some of the most common yoga injuries and how to prevent those. It also gives you certain tips that could help you enjoy your practice safe.
Prevent Injuries during Yoga
Shoulders, neck, wrists, lower back, hamstrings, and knees are seats of the most common yoga injuries.
Neck and Shoulder Injuries
Many people experience a gentle tension while practicing inversions. But, if the tension does not disappear after the class, then it is worrisome. Poses such as headstand and shoulder stand requires strong neck and shoulders. At the same time, a strong core is also essential for balancing oneself while going upside down. If you feel your shoulders or neck are not strong enough to do these, opt for variations.
You need to be careful about gazing at your fingertips while practicing Trikonasana or Parsvakonasana. If you feel your neck hurts, do not hesitate to gaze down! While you twist, do not force yourself to look over your shoulder. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. If possible, gently look back. Or else, gaze forward.
Avoid the inverted postures if you have a pre-existing spinal, shoulder, or neck injury!
Twists are ideal for soothing your spine. They also detoxify your digestive area and promote good health. But, when done improperly, they could damage your intercostals muscles.
Lengthen your spine before you twist. Pull your tailbone down while lengthening through the crown as if some thread has been suspended from your crown. This elongation will give the ribs that additional space to twist in a gentle way.
Elbows get hurt while practicing arm balances, including the class favorite, Chaturanga Dandasana. Use your core muscles for balance. Tuck your elbows along your ribs, sending them backward. Keep your knees down till your gain the strength.
The best way is to spread your fingers wide and press the heels of the palms into the mat. Distribute the weight of your body equally between your arms. Push your heels deeply into the mat for better balance. And, of course, do not forget to stack your elbows right above your wrists. This alignment will protect wrists and elbows alike!
Lower back Injuries
Do not round your back while bending forward. Instead, lengthen your spine and fold forward from your hips. Also, take time while doing the forward and backward bends as the slightest jerk could also hurt your lower back. While lying down on your back, press your lower back into the floor. Use your core muscles by pulling your navel towards your spine as you practice leg lifts.
In addition, if you have a pre-existing back issue or tight hamstrings, keep your knees bent a little while practicing forward folds and backward bends.
Tight hamstrings are pretty common these days as you tend to sit for long hours. And, if you are not careful enough, you might end up overstretching the hamstrings. Be it a simple Uttanasana or a Ashwasanchalanasana, make sure that you take your own time to get into the posture. Go slowly.
Take adequate break from poses that stretch your hamstrings if you have any injury. Wait till you recover and then take baby steps to restore their flexibility! Keeping a micro-bend on your knees could help preventing hyper-extension of the hamstrings.
A weak core and a stiff back could also affect hamstring mobility. In such cases, ensure that you are not bending forward or backward in a deep way!
You never know when you hyper-extend your hips. Virabhadrasana and Prasarita Padottanasana are two such poses where you are prone to damage the muscles of your inner groin or thighs as you over-extend your hips.
To avoid this, ensure that your toes point in the same direction of your squared hips. You could also turn your toes at an angle of 15 degrees away from your hips and bend your knees a little while bending forward. In the process, push your hips backward, engage your core, and tuck your tailbone. In simple words, keep your hips aligned forward.
Knee injuries could arise from various poses. However, poses such as Dhanurasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana could increase the risk if you are careless. While Dhanurasana says that you have to pull your knees and thighs off the floor using your hands, if you have thunder thighs, do not try doing that. The excess weight on the thighs could damage the meniscus horn in the process. Your Posterior Cruciate Ligament might also get injured in the process.
Baddha Konasana could trigger a knee injury. Wait until your hips open up and you have the flexibility. Since your knees do not expect any side movements, pressing them down while keeping them bent could damage the muscles around the knees. In the same manner, forcing your torso down in Upavishta Konasana could also rotate your knees outward, damaging the meniscus completely.
So, what can you do? Use a prop to lift your hips up. Ideally, you should be sitting on your sit bones with a long spine while you do seated bends. Once your hips are slightly higher than your knees, lengthen your spine and then fold forward from your hips without rounding the spine.
Use additional padding wherever required to keep your knees safe while practicing poses such as Camel Pose and Anjaneyasana. You could also keep your knees bent slightly during the initial days of your practice to understand how they react.
While doing balancing postures, try to do them against a wall if your legs are not strong enough to bear your body weight. This will keep your knees safe from sudden jerks.
The Final Word!
Listen to your body. Stay mindful throughout your practice. Breathe into the postures. Get your alignment right. Be sensitive to the cues your body gives. The key to avoid injuries is to work with yourself from where you are and not from where you want to be!