Yoga is a safe and healthy way to improve muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) supports yoga as a safe form of exercise as long as do you do yoga based on your own individual flexibility and level. A recent review in the American Journal of Epidemiology of over 300 yoga studies concluded that yoga was just as safe as traditional care for health problems and other forms exercise.
Some of the most common injuries in yoga are muscle or joint problems, though most problems are mild. Yoga can even be a safe and helpful form of exercise for people with joint issues like rheumatoid arthritis, as long as you know how to modify postures with the help of your yoga teacher.
Here are seven tips to help keep your joints healthy and safe in yoga:
1. Protect your wrists: Spread your hands wide and evenly when your hands bear weight, such as in Downward Facing Dog Pose.
Beginners in yoga often tent their hands in Downward Facing Dog Pose, but this actually makes it more difficult on your hands and wrists. Make sure that your hands are spread wide and ground all corners of your palm on your mat. Your hands should be pressed down firmly enough that someone would not be able to pluck your fingers off the mat.
Many poses in yoga, such as the Downward Facing Dog require a fair amount of wrist extension, while simultaneously putting direct pressure on the palm of the hand. This can exacerbate existing wrist problems, as well as pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome.
To help prevent this, make sure you press down evenly throughout the entire surface area of your hand in contact with your mat, so this decreases the weight or pressure at any one point. This also makes it safer for your hands and wrists. Or, try modifying the pose by using your forearms instead (Dolphin Pose modification). Continue reading >>