Yoga is an excellent modality for injury prevention and recovery. Yoga improves the range of motion in joints while elongating the muscles. Most instances of chronic pain or injury stem from compressed or tightened muscles and joints, bearing too much of a load on the body creating overexertion, repetitive motions and chronic improper posture, which all lead to injury. While yoga seems like a fix all and safe practice for any of your health, fitness or injury related issues it is not. It can be beneficial to come to yoga after receiving an injury as long as you are cautious about your movements and inform your instructor before class so they may help you modify your practice to accommodate for any injury and promote safety. After receiving an injury yoga is safe to practice, however caution is highly encouraged as well as consulting a healthcare professional.
The three most common types of injuries most Americans receive in their lifetime are sprains, strains and tears in their muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon has been overstretched and are most common in the lower back and hamstrings according to healthline. Sprains occur in ligaments which connect two bones together in a joint. Pulls or tears in muscles are caused by overloading a muscle and extending it beyond its functional capacity. Physioworks states muscle pulls and tears occur most commonly in the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf back and groin, but still are able to occur in any part of the body.
Yoga after an injury can aid in rehabilitation and is safe depending on the intensity of an injury. In order to safely practice yoga after an injury keep these tips in mind as a practitioner and instructor helping a students rehabilitate.
Yoga journal and physical therapists agree yoga is safe after an injury as long as you follow these suggestions….
Caution and Safety:
Yoga is safe after an acute injury to soft tissue in muscles, tendons and ligaments as long as the student is not recreating the injury according to Julie Gudmestad of Yoga Journal. For example, if you injured your knee stepping into a hole and it tore the ligament or ACL it is recommended to avoid pigeon pose or baddha konasana, or any posture that would twist the meniscus, patella or create a twisting motion in the knee. Another example is if you injured your hamstring bending over with locked out knees in a forward fold. To keep yourself safe after an injury during a yoga practice you would want to avoid deep forward folds and bend your knees so there is no pressure on the hamstring attachments.
Create Safe and Stable Movement
When practicing yoga after an injury the optimal way to reduce the risk of pain or re-injuring the damaged location is to practice safe and stable movements. Avoid fast, power or vinyasa style classes. Swift movements increase the risk of damaging or lowering the healing time for an injury in yoga. Instead, move slowing, safely and focus on proper placement of your body in each yoga pose. Modify every pose to create stability in the injured area.
Encourage rest and Immobilization
Try to encourage movement in the localized area as stiffness can lead to pain and loss of circulation to the injured area. Yoga is safe to practice after an injury as long as you rest when needed, stop as soon as you feel pain and create stability around the injury. Consult your doctor, physical therapist or health care professional about using ace bandages and other stabilizing medical devices to immobilize the affected injury during your practice.
As with any injury patience is the key to practicing yoga safely. Injuries take time and care to heal. Trust your bodies’ ability to heal and listen for any signs of pain, inflammation or overexertion.
Practice yoga safely with an injury by resting when needed and celebrating the small victories with every amount of progress you make!