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Preventative Strategies for Lower Back Strains in Yoga: Part One

In this post we take a look at one of the leading causes for emergency room visits from yoga—lower back strains—and examine preventative strategies that may help in reducing the risk of this injury while enhancing the benefits of Hatha yoga practice. This series begins with info on joint rhythms and how understanding them can help in preventing injury.

Also, I would like to recommend reading Dana Santas interview in Men’s Health magazine entitled “Will Yoga Really Wreck Your Body?”1 Dana is an experienced yoga practitioner and teacher who works with elite athletes from a number of professional sports. She is a great resource for information on integrating yoga into sports training regimens. You might also check out Jason Amis’ counterpoint to a recent article published in the New York Times, which includes a clear and in-depth analysis of much of the data that was referenced. 

Jason provided me with the NEISS data relating to emergency rooms visits for yoga injuries in 2010 and I’ve done some preliminary analysis, which I will share with you. Data like this is extremely valuable, because it allows us to find ways to identify risks and then reflect on how to prevent them – a variation for the yoga community on the Sanskrit term “Atma Vichara,” or self inquiry. Here are my impressions: first, I was impressed by the relative safety of the practice compared to other activities. Second, it was clear to me that many of the injuries resulting in ER visits were potentially preventable. Think of it this way: there are injuries that are unpredictable, like stubbing your toe (also reported as an ER visit related to yoga), and there are those that are potentially preventable through application of common sense and knowledge of the body. Analysis of data like this provides an opportunity to identify preventable injuries and eliminate unsound practices that may have caused them in the first instance.
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