Sydney University study finds yoga causes pain in 10 per cent of people

STRETCH: Tamworth physio and pilates instructor Jess Walker says people need to build up before tackling yoga and risking injury. Photo: Gareth Gardner 170717GGB01
STRETCH: Tamworth physio and pilates instructor Jess Walker says people need to build up before tackling yoga and risking injury. Photo: Gareth Gardner 170717GGB01

YOU’RE just as likely to get an injury saluting the sun as taking a hit-up on the footy field, new research shows.

It’s perceived as a safer activity, Sydney University research found yoga caused pain in 10 per cent of people, putting it on par with the average injury rate across all sports.

Tamworth physiotherapist and pilates instructor Jess Walker said the problem stemmed from not addressing underlying issues.

“It’s low impact, it’s gentle movement, so people automatically assume it is safe,” Mrs Walker said

“Yoga is moving you through you’re full range of movement and asking your body of movement that it’s perhaps not ready for.

Journo Jacob McArthur takes the pilates challenge

Journo Jacob McArthur takes the pilates challenge

“Just the same as running out on to a footy field, if you’re not conditioned for that, it’s going to cause you an issue.”

She said it should be up to the instructors out the front of the class to recognise what their clientele can handle.

“You’ve got to make sure your instructor isn’t programming things that are more advanced than what you’’re capable of,” she said.

While the Sydney uni study found yoga caused musculoskeltal pain in 10 per cent of people and exacerbated the pain of 21 per cent, Mrs Walker said the exercise could be used as a preventative measure.

“As a physio, I would push certain clientele in to doing it because the more you can improve your mobility, the lower your risk of injury, in general,” she said.

“If you’re can keep your muscles distensible and keep your spine moving really nicely, then you are going to be able to move better and cope better with everyday activity better and reduce your risk of injury.”

STRIKE A POSE: Jess Walker says yoga can help some prevent injuries: Photo: Gareth Gardner

STRIKE A POSE: Jess Walker says yoga can help some prevent injuries: Photo: Gareth Gardner

Mrs Walker runs “clinical pilates” classes at Fit2Function on Marius St, which is different to your general gym yoga and pilates courses.

“The only difference with ours is we have professionals; physiotherapists, exercise physiologists watching our classes,” she said.

Mrs Walker told The Leader  the health and fitness realms were crossing-over with more physios and exercise physiologists monitoring classes.

“There’s a big gap that stands there, you finish in the clinic but that doesn’t mean you are ready to go back to your sport,” she said.

Causing more pain than you think

Like any form of exercise, yoga can cause pain, lead researcher Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas said.

“Our study found that the incidence of pain caused by yoga is more than 10 per cent per year, which is comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population,” he said.

“However people consider it to be a very safe activity.

“This injury rate is up to 10 times higher than has previously been reported.”

The researcher said the finding would be useful for clinicians and every-day citizens looking for an exercise activity.

“The study found that most “new” yoga pain was in the upper extremities (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand) possibly due to downward dog and similar postures that put weight on the upper limbs,” he said.

“It’s not all bad news, however, as 74 per cent of participants in the study reported that existing pain was improved by yoga, highlighting the complex relationship between musculoskeletal pain and yoga practice.

“We recommend that yoga teachers also discuss with their students the risks for injury if not practiced conscientiously, and the potential for yoga to exacerbate some injuries.”