One of the oldest forms of exercise, yoga has a number of health benefits for individuals seeking to improve posture, balance and flexibility. Yoga can also be helpful in managing conditions like arthritis and diabetes, or as part of rehab programmes for specific injuries.
The risk of lower body injuries in yoga, like most physical activities, is present. Understanding how the lower body functions can help yogis avoid injuries while improving overall physical and mental well-being.
Lower Body Injuries
The risk of injury in yoga is mainly down to poor technique, repetitive movements or intense force applied to perform the different poses and stances.
A study in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine studied yoga injuries in the US from 2001 to 2014. It revealed that 29,590 injury cases required treatment at emergency departments, with majority of the cases related to females aged between 18 and 44 years. The study also determined that injury rate was 8 times higher in yogis aged 65 years or older.
A survey of bone and muscle injuries among 110 yoga practitioners revealed that 62% of the group had at least one injury that lasted over a month. The hamstring was reported as the most common site of injury due to the forward-bending postures that often overuse and overstretch the hamstring muscles.
In an interesting article on the subject, Lower Extremity Review states that poses that require extreme hip movement can increase the risk of muscle tears in the hip.
The International Journal of Yoga Therapy revealed the following asanas as having the highest risk of knee injuries – the hero’s pose, warrior pose and lotus pose.
Meniscus tears are commonly associated with these poses due to the dynamic movements involved and the increased stress on the knee.
Impact of Weak Foot Posture
A weak foot posture may increase the risk of injuries while practising yoga. A practitioner with flat feet, for example, may experience more stress on the knees, legs, hips and lower back.
The excessive stress is caused by the inward twist of the shin bone and thigh bone as the foot arch collapses. This produces abnormal movements in the lower body which can affect the practitioner’s form. Repeated stress and poor form may increase the risk of lower body injuries.
Personalised yoga therapy should be based on foot flexibility, muscle strength and level of expertise. A detailed examination of the foot and walking stride by a health care professional would help in understanding the impact of foot posture on the whole body.
Depending on the nature and severity of the yoga-related injury, rehab programmes should involve stretching and strengthening exercises to regain strength and flexibility. MASS4D® foot insoles can be recommended as part of supportive care and active rehab to help in speedy recovery.
MASS4D® insoles support the feet in their optimal posture and promote alignment of the lower body. This improves foot function and helps reduce stress on the knees, hips and the lower back to prevent injuries.
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Reference: Swain, T. A., McGwin, G. (2016) Yoga-Related Injuries in the United States From 2001 to 2014. The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine: November 2016, Vol. 4, No. 11. doi: 10.1177/2325967116671703.
Reference: Delzell, E. (2015) The perils of poses: Yoga-related injuries. Lower Extremity Review: April 2015. Retrieved from: http://lermagazine.com/
Reference: Fishman, L. M., Saltonstall, E., Genis, S. (2009) Yoga Therapy in Practice. Understanding and Preventing Yoga Injuries. International Journal Of Yoga Therapy: 2009, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 47-53
Reference: Mikkonen, J., Pedersen, P., McCarthy, P. W. (2008) A Survey of Musculoskeletal Injury among Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Practitioners. International Journal Of Yoga Therapy: 2008, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 59-64
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