The numerous health benefits associated with the practice of yoga has made it increasingly popular among individuals seeking to improve balance, posture and flexibility.
Besides enhancing overall physical and mental well-being, yoga can also help in the management of conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases or as a part of rehabilitative programmes designed for specific injuries.
However, as is the case with any type of exercise, the possibility of injury in yoga from repetitive movements, poor technique or intense exertion requires detailed understanding in order to better educate patients.
Thomas A. Swain and Gerald McGwin, from the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama, conducted a study to estimate the number of yoga-related injuries that occurred in the United States between a period of 2001 to 2014.
The authors established that there were 29,590 yoga-related injury cases that sought treatment at US emergency departments; with majority of the cases reported to be females aged 18 to 44 years.
Upon further analysis of the data, the authors determined that injury rates increased eight-fold for those aged 65 years or older, leading to the conclusion that yoga therapy needs to be individualised according to the health condition of the individual, especially for patients suffering from osteoporosis.
A survey of musculoskeletal injury among 110 practitioners of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Finland revealed that at least 62 per cent of the group reported of having at least one injury that lasted longer than a month, with some practitioners reporting even more than one injury.
The most common site of injury was observed to be the hamstring as a result of forward-bending postures that have the potential to overuse and overstretch the hamstring muscles without appropriate supervision and guidance.
In an interesting article on the subject, Lower Extremity Review states “poses with extremes of hip motion, such as end-range hip adduction/internal rotation or hip flexion/abduction/external rotation can predispose to hip labral tears.”
The lotus pose, warrior pose, hero’s pose and one-legged king pigeon pose can increase the chances of a meniscus tear as they involve both hyper flexion and rotation at the knee.
This was further supported by a survey published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy which revealed the asanas as most frequently associated with knee injuries.
In order to reduce the incidences of yoga-related injuries, it is essential that yoga practitioners assess a student’s level of expertise, muscle strength and foot flexibility and devise an appropriate programme accordingly.
Any pre-existing conditions or underlying biomechanical abnormalities should be evaluated before the programme commences to prevent any further aggravation.
For injuries occurring to the lower extremity during yoga, depending on the type of injury and severity, a passive care routine followed by stretching and strengthening exercises for specific muscles can help the individual regain strength and flexibility.
MASS4D® customised foot orthotics can facilitate a speedy recovery of the injured lower limb muscles by offloading any stresses and by promoting optimal alignment of the musculoskeletal system.
This would also help prevent any future injuries by improving foot function and reducing the stress that is placed on the kinetic chain in total.
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Repetitive plantarflexion can lead to pain and mechanical limitation in the posterior ankle joint which is known as posterior ankle impingement syndrome. This pathology commonly occurs in ballet dancers and football players.