Does yoga stress the joints? Maria Ekblom breaks down the existing science.

Yoga is an increasingly popular training method, as well as therapy for musculoskeletal disorders, with practitioners all over the world. Most consider it to be a very safe activity, being that yoga only uses the body weight as resistance and therefore won’t put any extra strain on the joints.

According to recently published research, yoga causes musculoskeletal pain and exacerbates existing physical injuries. The study found that the incidence of pain caused by yoga is >10 % per year, which is comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population (1).

On the other hand, 74 % of participants in the study reported that existing pain was improved by yoga, thus highlighting the complex relationship between musculoskeletal pain and yoga practice. This study is also somewhat contradictory compared to other literature.

Other studies have found that 2.4 % or even as low as <1 % of yoga practitioners reported yoga-related injuries that led to discontinued practice, this was during a period of 12 months (2,3). Further evidence shows that practicing yoga was not associated with upper or lower limb joint problems (4). There was also no association between yoga and falls or fall-related injuries (5).

Finally, a meta-analysis found no association between yoga and an increased frequency of injuries compared with usual care or exercise. The authors also recommended yoga as a compliment to exercise. (6).

Yoga appears to be safe to practice, although most studies note that different yoga practices stress the joints differently, and that participants should practice only under the guidance of certified instructors.

Post provided by @maria_ekblom, a member of #teamEBT. Licensed physiotherapist and personal trainer.

Sources:

  1. 1. Campo M, Shiyko M, Kean M, Roberts L, Pappas E. Musculoskeletal pain associated with recreational yoga participation: A prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2017;
  2. Holton M, Barry A. Do side-effects/injuries from yoga practice result in discontinued use? Results of a national survey. International Journal of Yoga. 2014;7(2):152.
  3. Penman S, Stevens P, Cohen M, Jackson S. Yoga in Australia: Results of a national survey. International Journal of Yoga. 2012;5(2):92.
  4. Lauche R, Schumann D, Sibbritt D, Adams J, Cramer H. Associations between yoga practice and joint problems: a cross-sectional survey among 9151 Australian women. Rheumatology International. 2017;37(7):1145-1148.
  5. Cramer H, Sibbritt D, Adams J, Lauche R. The association between regular yoga and meditation practice and falls and injuries: Results of a national cross-sectional survey among Australian women. Maturitas. 2016;84:38-41.
  6. Cramer H, Ward L, Saper R, Fishbein D, Dobos G, Lauche R. The Safety of Yoga: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2015;182(4):281-293.

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