bend and stretch

Posted on July 25, 2010
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From  The  NY Times

Yoga is a good thing, so you tend to push further than you would in a sport where you are actually more attuned to injury and afraid of injuries,” said Dr. Michelle Carlson, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan who specializes in arms and hands. She said she recently “saw four women in a row in my office with hand injuries from yoga.”

Nobody seems to keep careful track of the numbers. The most recent estimate comes from the United States Product Safety Commission, which tracks sports injuries: it listed 4,450 reported yoga injuries in 2006, up from 3,760 in 2004. But Dr. Carlson and several others said they had seen large increases lately, as yoga became more popular. “I have been doing this for 20 years, and I didn’t see yoga injuries 20 years ago,” Dr. Carlson said. “I can see a couple of injuries a week.”

Training for yoga teachers can vary, and classes are so large in some studios that instructors do not pay enough attention to everybody. In New York, many people approach yoga with a no-pain, no-gain mind-set, with predictable results.

Then there is the age factor: you see a fair share of middle-aged people twisting and bending and lunging, and I know from experience that a 40-something body is temperamental.

Back injuries are quite common. Positions like upward dog and cobra, requiring backbends, can aggravate the spine. Others that call for elongating the back, like seated forward bend, can wreak havoc on discs. Rotator cuffs and wrists can get battered during plank poses and chaturangas, which are like push-ups, while knees are susceptible to the lotus position, hero’s pose and the warrior positions.

The headstand — a more advanced move — is an equal opportunity offender. If done improperly, it can roil your back, neck, shoulders and wrists.

Then there are the freak injuries. A woman in crow pose fell over and broke her nose.

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