People often take up Yoga as a form of low impact exercise, to improve flexibility or to assist with injury rehab. But can Yoga itself cause or exacerbate injuries? Yes it can, according to a recent analysis of 89 patients at the Mayo clinic from 2006 to 2018 whose injuries were primarily caused by Yoga.
The study found that the most common injury was myofascial soft tissue pain due to overuse. Rotator cuff injury was documented in 6.7%, exacerbation of pain from degenerative joint disease was documented in 51.7%, nerve root entrapment in 5.6% and compression fractures in the spine were present in whopping 14.6%. The report especially highlighted the dangers associated with hyeprflexion (hyperextension) especially in participants with osteoporosis or osteopenia who are at risk of compression fractures. Many of the patients may have had aches pains, joint degeneration or frank injury before taking up the Yoga but they were made worse for doing so.
The take home message here is for the public (especially those with pre-existing injuries or joint wear and tear) to seek expert advice from an appropriate health care professional (e.g. physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath), for clinicians to properly screen their patients especially for osteoporosis prior to recommending Yoga and for caution to be exerted when it comes to end range movements especially hyeprflexion (rounding the spine forwards).