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Pain from practising yoga!

I’ve come across this a few times, most recently from the Guardian which quotes a study that says“Yoga can be painful and can lead to injury”.

My first thoughts on this are “is it necessary to write a report on this spending time and resources?” but then I think yes trials, investigations and reports can be very useful and an excellent way to develop evidence based exercise, but the reality is  any exercise or activity has the potential to cause an injury.

Yoga is often mentioned for many reasons and the same report states, a 74% improvement for back pain and neck pain during the course of the study.

The issues which have arisen on this study are regards to the arms and shoulders, this is understandable for as much as yoga can help develop body strength your starting point can be somewhat lower for this part of your body, So participating in an activity which works your upper body needs careful consideration.
Our bodies abilities are simply not the same and at the same starting points as your fellow yoga practitioners and yoga teachers.

How often do you actually stretch, strengthen and exercise your shoulders and arms? With this in mind performing weight bearing exercise can give rise to injury.

Personally I’m a big fan of yoga despite being like Bambi on ice in the class with questionable ability and balance, however this is ok. You see I get something excellent out of it, a great workout and a full body stretch. Working all these helps my Judo which is getting harder as I age; but is still my favourite sport.

Anyway back to yoga, as with any sport you need to seriously consider your starting point, and work from there!  Recently I have  increased my swimming and being competitive any one in the pool is a competitor, they don’t even know it but I’m trying to keep up or over take, crazy I know. There are benefits to this  trying hard will increase my ability and speed which you think would be great but, it can also increase the risk of injury as I’m no Tarzan, have no coach or take lessons, I simply put my shorts on and jump in and carry on from where I finished at school, how good is my technique, what pressure and tension is being placed on my body?

Yoga is the same, you need to think of the type of yoga you do, get to know your instructor who will help you get the most from your class. If you have never enjoyed  yoga instruction in a class its the best place to start. I’m personally not a fan of learning from the internet like youtube or mobile apps without first having some good instruction however, if you are experienced then apps and youtube can give some assistance in your practise and allows for flexibility of practicing anywhere at anytime.

Unless you’re like my son who can still bite his toe nails despite being told not to, start slowly and build up gradually, so my best advice for yoga practise is;

-Do start with a class

-Research the type of yoga you want to enjoy; also note Yoga instructors often have a vast amount of experience and may not follow a precise system or type.

-Do speak to the class teacher, discuss ailments, injuries, expectations and outcomes.

-Commit to a class for a good course.

-Don’t use a mobile app or youtube as your starting point.

-Let the yoga instructor know if you are seeing a therapist such as an osteopath, they can modify techniques for certain injuries.

-Let your therapist know as they may recommend the avoidance of some techniques.

-Enjoy your class

So there you have it, Yoga can be a great activity on its own or a fantastic addition to your cross training regime helping you and your chosen sport.

Remember, learn about what you are looking to do, be flexible in your approach as you develop strength and mobility in the body.

And on that note keep well and keep moving 🙂

Francis Connor

Manchester Osteopaths
Deansgate Osteopathic Clinic