In most cases, yoga is a great therapeutic tool to prevent or lessen the onset of pain in chronic injuries. Relaxation, stretching and strengthening are all components of yoga which aid to balance the muscles in the body, release tension and restore a peaceful mind.
Chronic injuries can get in the way of maximizing the benefits of your yoga practice; however being aware of which movement patterns trigger your pain is the best way of steering clear of the onset of pain.
Yogis with spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, should avoid severe back bends such as cobra, boat, camel and wheel poses, to name a few. These poses should be avoided as they create the least space possible in the spinal column. A good alternative would be a forward bend such as child’s pose or a down dog.
Yogis with disc herniations should avoid forward bends, severe twisting and severe side bending postures because these motions all cause added pressure onto the disc. A good modification would be a gentle back bend such as the baby cobra pose.
It is important to note that approximately 5% of individuals will actually benefit from the opposite; this is a guideline based on the anatomy of the injury but remember to listen to your body.
Individuals with cervical spine disease should avoid doing headstands or shoulder stands; keep in mind that if these poses cause nerve like symptoms such as burning, tingling or numbness into the upper limbs, this is not normal and further medical screening is advised.
Most of the precautions concerning yoga poses can be determined by understanding your specific medical condition. Be sure to notify your yoga instructor of any injuries so that your yoga practice can be safe and effective.
For further questions concerning your specific conditions, our athletic therapy team would be happy to assist you!