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How to Use Yoga for Injury Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Prevention

Based on the overall injury rate per 1000 practice hours, yoga appears to be as safe or safer than other forms of exercise. Many healthcare professionals are also recommending their patients to use yoga to help improve their physical and mental health.

The approach and type of yoga that you practice for injury recovery and prevention will vary depending on your injury and level of experience in yoga.

If you have an injury it’s important to first check with your doctor and / or physiotherapist that yoga is appropriate. Since each injury is different its really important for you to get an individual assessment with a health professional before starting or continuing to practice yoga with an injury.

In this blog we’ll explore:

  • Tips on how to continue practicing yoga with an injury as part of your recovery and rehabilitation.

  • The five most common yoga injuries and how to avoid them.

  • How you can use yoga for injury prevention.

Yoga for Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation

Health professionals and physiotherapists are beginning to use yoga as a treatment to help individuals with physical limitations such as pain, balance, muscular strength, and flexibility. And mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.

If you’ve got an injury and have been recommended to practice yoga it can feel intimidating to get started as a beginner or continue your practice as a longer term practitioner.

It’s therefore often helpful to work with a physiotherapist and qualified yoga teacher when focused on the rehabilitation and recovery process of your injury. This way you can work carefully and safely when setting to set up a yoga practice to ensure that yoga won’t aggravate your injury and instead aids recovery.

Yoga teachers have extensive knowledge about physical yoga postures and can help you create your own tailored practice that accommodates a current or old injury. We are not however trained health professionals and are not able to diagnose or prescribe treatment for your injury. But yoga teachers can help guide you in what specific yoga poses and practices to do with an injury.

For serious and reoccurring injuries it’s best to have work with a yoga teacher one-on-one in a private class so that you can learn yoga postures and techniques that are supportive for your injury.

Yoga injury recovery

Listening to Your Body

In addition to receiving personal guidance from a yoga teacher and a health professional it’s also useful for you to learn your own personal limitations in different yoga poses. This is particularly important if you already have an injury.

Although yoga teachers can give you advice on how to modify poses for your injury, it is only you that can feel what is going on in your body.

You want to take the time to observe how your body and injury feels before, during, and after your yoga practice. You want to avoid feeling worse during or after yoga. This is a sign that you’ve done something that doesn’t support your injury. And hopefully over time you will start to notice that your injury feels better after doing yoga.

So during your yoga practice see if you can tune in to how your body and injury feels when you make certain movements. This will help you to determine what is appropriate for you at a given time. Usually anytime you feel sharp or consistent pain its a warning from your body to avoid a particular movement or posture.

Remember each day will be different. Just because you felt pain while making a specific movement one day it might feel different a few days or weeks later. So keep an open mind and exploring your body during practice.

Beginning Yoga With an Injury

Take care especially if you are new to yoga and starting to practice at home on your own with an injury.

Make sure you are informed as to what movements should be avoided and that you don’t push yourself beyond what feels comfortable. Remember that some pains might not occur until after you are finished with practicing yoga. So make sure you observe what is happening not only during practice but also afterwards.

Research shows that the support of qualified yoga instructors can help reduce the risk of injury and that it’s recommended for beginners to learn and practice under supervision until you feel confident to do the yoga poses correctly and safely. Specialized yoga therapy classes and props might be helpful to improve safety.

If you join a group yoga class always tell the teacher about a current or old injury. That way the yoga teacher can support you by providing alternative yoga poses and avoid hands-on adjustments that might hurt your injury.

What Are the 5 Most Common Yoga Injuries?

5 most common yoga injuries

Despite yoga being as safe or safer than other forms of exercise, it is still possible to get injured from doing yoga.

According to a recent study an average 0.60 injuries were reported every 1000 hours of yoga practice (compared to 2.5 injuries per 1000 hours for running and 5.0 injuries per 1000 hours for tennis). The risk of injury was found to be higher in individuals that didn’t have supervision during their yoga practice.

The five most common yoga injuries came from doing the following series of yoga poses:

  1. Handstands

  2. Headstands

  3. Shoulderstands

  4. Forward bends

  5. Backbends

Usually injuries occur if the yoga practitioner is putting a lot of weight on areas of the body like the wrists, knees, neck, and back without enough preparation or training. The majority of these injuries reported were muscle or joint pain or strains.

Yoga for Injury Prevention

Yoga can also be used to prevent injuries due to the physical benefits it brings to increasing your flexibility, mobility, stability, strength, and balance.

Research on using yoga for injury prevention demonstrated how yoga could be used in athletic programs for soccer players to reduce injury, fatigue, rumination, and stress.

I hope all of this information was helpful for you if you have an injury and are interested in practicing yoga.

Remember to first check with your general practitioner and / or physiotherapist before starting yoga with an injury and enjoy your practice.

Happy practicing!

💛 Irene


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