Last week the Mayo Clinic published the results of an excellent, first of its kind, study focused on injuries sustained in yoga practice, with a primary objective of identifying poses that should be avoided or modified by people who have osteoporosis and osteopenia. Read the article here.
For the 89 study participants, they reviewed medical records from 2006 to 2018 and classified injuries in three categories: soft tissue (muscles and fascia), non-bone injuries in the spine, and bone injuries in the spine.
The study authors found that most injuries were related to extreme forward folding or back bending positions. These 4 postures were reported to have caused the majority of the injuries:
The most reported injuries included:
exacerbation of pain in people with degenerative joint disease
exacerbation of pain in people with facet athropathy (arthritis of the joints on the back side of the vertebra)
vertebral compression fractures
anterior wedging (the wearing down of the front edges of the vertebra resulting in "wedge-shaped" vertabra)
spondylolisthesis (slipping vertabra)
While this list of injuries might sound scary, from the perspective of a yoga teacher, all of these are avoidable with smart yoga instruction and well-educated students.
In fact, the authors of this study do not recommend that people should stop practicing yoga. Rather, they recommend that doctors should be "aware that yoga, as with any exercise, is not a completely harmless activity that can be performed with abandon". They note that injuries can occur, especially in older patients with age-related degenerative changes and other connective tissue disorders.
They further recommend that yoga students modify their poses to accommodate their physical limitations. They explain that as "the body changes over time, exercise regimens need to be modified to protect the spine, shoulders, hips, and other musculoskeletal structures."
At The Yoga Room, we specialize in customizing the yoga practice to suit the practitioner. Our small class sizes allow us to know our students and keep an eye on them to make sure they are practicing in a way that is safe, appropriate, and beneficial. Our Individual Instruction is even more customized in that we design the practice to address the goals and needs of an individual person.
If you'd like to know HOW we modify our teaching to suit our students, check out this Facebook Live video Adria and I recorded yesterday. We demonstrate and discuss two popular postures and how to modify them to suit your body.
And if you'd like to learn more about how you can help keep yourself safe, strong, and flexible in your yoga practice, please stay tuned for next week's newsletter!
As always, we welcome your questions and comments. Please email us at email@example.com.