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Yoga Injuries Up To 10 Times More Frequent than Previously Thought

Update Date: Jun 30, 2017 09:16 AM EDT

Yoga might not be as stress-free as you thought.

According to a study by the University of Sydney, the first of its kind investigating injuries associated with recreational yoga, yoga causes musculoskeletal pain in 10% of participants, and exacerbates 21% of existing injuries. Lead researcher Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas said of the findings, "While yoga can be beneficial for musculoskeletal pain, like any form of exercise, it can also result in musculoskeletal pain."

More strikingly, although people consider yoga to be a very safe activity, the incidence of injury rate of 10% per year is "comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population," said Professor Pappas. This injury rate is up to 10 times hgiher than had previously been reported.

Not only can yoga cause pain, but it can make existing pain worse, particularly in the upper limbs. New pain was usually found in the upper extremities (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand), possibly due to the downward dog position and other postures which put pressure on the arms and wrists. The study also found that more than one-third of cases of pain were serious enough to prevent yoga participation for up to 3 months.

At the same time, it is important to remember that 74% of participants in the study reported that their existing pain was improved by doing yoga. One solution is to practice proper yoga technique and form. "Pain caused by yoga might be prevented by careful performance and participants telling their yoga teachers of injuries they may have prior to participation," said Professor Pappas.

He suggests that yoga participants inform their healthcare professionals about their yoga practice and discuss the risks of injury to any pre-existing pain with their yoga teachers and physiotherapists. Hopefully, this will prevent you from "wrecking your body," as a 2012 New York Times Magazine article warned.

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