Discover some tips to avoid injuries when you start practicing yoga.
A slight scoliosis, a hip dysplasia or poorly trained wrists can be the perfect breeding ground to cause a serious injury if a yoga practice is not carried out correctly .
They say that yogi philosophy came to the West to stay, and you only have to see what happened during the pandemic. Yoga has become one of the most endorsed escape routes , both physical, mental and emotional, available to everyone.
The offer of online classes has skyrocketed, the number of qualified teachers has doubled and with it, the number of affiliates to this practice . Social distancing has limited face-to-face practices, so they have been less supervised and with this the number of injuries has increased.
I believe that, today, there is no doubt that this discipline is for everyone .
The truth is that, with a correct, aligned, safe and conscious practice, you can enjoy yoga forever, but... how to practice safely to be able to do it throughout your life? How to avoid injuries derived from the practice?
There are 8 points that you must take into account to avoid injuries :
1. Preheating, as a rule :
It is recommended that before starting your practice you do warm-up exercises. When we warm up the muscles and joints, we generate an increase in body temperature and cell metabolism. This causes vasodilation that increases blood flow at the muscle and joint level, and therefore a greater supply of oxygen and nutrients. In turn, it promotes enzymatic activation, improving the recruitment of motor units and thereby optimizing both elasticity and muscle contraction.
2. Your muscles will ask for water:
Something constant in the body is water, we are approximately 90% water, and a large amount is stored in the muscle, reaching 72% of its weight. With exercise, water is lost and evaporated, leaving the muscle dehydrated and sore. For this reason we must constantly replace this loss of water . The recommended amount of water varies according to the intensity of the physical exercise carried out , and therefore it will depend a lot on the type of practice, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Sivananda, Hatha, etc. In general, for an intermediate-high intensity Vinyasa yoga class, it is recommended to consume approximately 300-400 ml of water before starting, and up to 600-700 ml at the end.
3. Step by step, use a prop:
It is important to go to a class at your same level, or notify the teacher that you are a beginner so that he can safely adapt the practice . When you start you should practice variations for beginners, already structured in the bases of yoga, with which you can "soak up" the essence of each asana and then reach more advanced variations. In your beginnings it is convenient to use specific material such as cork blocks, blankets, belts or a wall to be able to reach the desired asanas avoiding overexertion or overstretching that can lead to injuries.
“Avoid closing your eyes at first, as it can decrease your balance.”
4. Work from the inside with proprioception:
Proprioception is the sense that informs the body about the position of our muscles, bones and joints. Unlike other disciplines, yoga is practiced in rooms without mirrors so that the intention of the movement is born from within , and the sense of proprioception is stimulated.
Advice : in the initiation classes, avoid closing your eyes, as it can decrease your
balance and play a trick on you. Fix your gaze on a point on the wall, without
distraction, and mentally direct your gaze towards the internal part of your body
to feel the corrections and the alignment. Once you have rooted the asana, you can close your eyes.
“Keep the musculature active at all times, avoid joint lock in hyperextension and lever mechanisms.”
5. Watch out for hypermobility, keep your muscles active:
Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to stretch, while hyperlaxity is the exaggerated increase in joint mobility due to the characteristics of the ligaments. To avoid injuries, both in non-lax and hypermobile practitioners (and even more important in the latter) you have to strengthen your muscles.
Advice : keep the muscles active at all times, avoid blocking the joints in extension and lever mechanisms, especially in the elbows and wrists. Although it is obvious that the asanas promote elasticity and flexibility, in most of them there is a muscle group that works in contraction, so gaining muscle strength is essential and will help you avoid injuries in more advanced postures.
“Gaining muscle strength is essential.”
6. Choose a good teacher:
You have to keep in mind that the most important thing when you start your practice is to have each asana and sequence explained to you in detail . Although with the pandemic, many people have started self-taught through videos without correction, you must be aware that, in order to live with yoga for a lifetime, the practice must be done correctly and safely .
Advice : surround yourself with teachers who seek to go into detail, who look at their students in class and who correct daily. In this way, the practice will be safe and the learning will be much faster and more fluid.
7. Choose a good mat:
It is essential to have quality material to carry out the practice safely. There are two things to consider, the grip material and the thickness. As for the material, we need a mat that will keep us in a stable position and that will not allow us to slip. The most recommended material is rubber with super grip to avoid slipping with sweat. As for the thickness, it will depend a lot on the type of practice you do, but in your beginnings, medium-thickness mats are recommended. On the one hand, thick mats (6-7mm) will make us feel unstable and we will sink into it and, on the contrary, thin mats (1-2mm) can cause pain during support. Therefore, the gold standard is 3-5mm, which will provide us with a very comfortable but stable support.
8. Watch with the lumbar:
Back pain (also called common low back pain) is the most prevalent pain in the population . A good yoga practice can prevent suffering from it, and in the case in which it is already suffered, it can alleviate it. The two basic recommendations to avoid and relieve pain at the lumbar level are: strengthening and working the core that prevents vertebral collapse, and twisting asana sequences , which help relax the lumbar paravertebral musculature.
We must keep in mind that it is a slow and progressive practice , which requires a lot of perseverance and discipline . It is a practice that must be individual and personalized . Take care and take care of yourself in your practice. Do not compare yourself, perhaps this is the best advice to avoid injuries .
If you suffer from an injury, be sure to see a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal devices so that they can adapt and guide your practice safely.
By a conscious movement,
Dr. Monica Galipienso