Are all Yoga injuries real Yoga injuries?

I don’t intend to deny the fact that an egotistical malpractice of Yoga can lead people to really bad and permanent injuries. But, have it ever happen to you going to a Doctor with an injury, and the moment you mention Yoga they just put aside any other possible causes for your problem and harshly blame it on your Yoga? What if you hide from them the fact that you practice Yoga? Will they come with a different reason for your injury? Well, today I want to talk to you about my recent experience dealing with this paradigm.
As some of you know, looking for a cardio boost to complement my Yoga practice I begun running over a year ago. After a few months of training, when I was just starting to enjoy the runs (I used to extremely dislike running!!!) I started feeling a pain in my right foot, but I never paid too much attention to it as it would usually disappear after a couple of resting days. Then, as the training went on, I began to feel a weird discomfort in my left knee that I also disregarded until one night during one of my training sessions a sharp twinge of pain forced me to abruptly stop running.
The following day I could barely walk, so I decided to go and see a Specialist in Orthopedics. The moment I described the foot situation, he diagnosed it right away (Morton’s Neuroma, a condition where one nerve between your toes thickens causing pain) and recommended surgery. As far as my knee was concerned, he immediately blamed it on my Yoga practice. He said the problem was absolutely caused by overextending my knee throughout the years of Yoga practice.
At first it kind of made sense to me, but the more I dug into the problem and the more I evaluated my Yoga practice, I began doubting about it.
After doing some tests that showed slight signs of inflammation on the knee, he recommended Physiotherapy. It was then the Therapist that after seeing me running on the treadmill came out with an explanation that was more reasonable to me: I was compensating to avoid the pain in my foot and the knee was taking all the pressure! That simple!
So I decided to go under the knife to fix the foot problem and now I’m slowly recovering and aiming to start running again in a month or so. I’ll have to retraining my body to run with the same balance I keep when I’m on my Yoga mat.
The best thing this experience reminded me of is to never stop listening to my own body; most of the time you can be the best judge and feel when something is not right, especially with your knees. If it hurts it is not good, if it doesn’t feel right it is because you must be doing something wrong. I should have stopped running the moment my foot began hurting to avoid the negative effects it had on the rest of my body.
But again, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get injured by Yoga, like with any other physical activity there is a certain level of risk. I’ve heard so many stories about permanent and irreversible Yoga injuries: on the neck for terrible malpractice of Headstands and Shoulder stands, on the knees due to overextension and misalignment, on the lower back when forward bends or back bends are forced.
That’s why you have to keep your practice safe and never try to attempt any postures you are not ready for. How do you know if you are ready or not? Well, just listen to your own body and avoid falling for the Ego temptations! Thrust me, while you are on your Yoga mat, Ego is the worst advisor.
I want to close today with some basic tips that can help you prevent Yoga injuries:
– Always respect your own limits, learn your strengths and weaknesses and practice within your own safe range of movement;
– Warm up properly; if you arrive late to a class, take the time to warm up before you join the rest of the group;
– Be patient and don’t try any posture you don’t feel ready for and never compare yourself with others;
– Always listen to your body and learn to recognize if you are feeling “good pain” or “bad pain”; if it is the good one, don’t try to push harder, if it is the bad one stop immediately;
– Tell your teachers if you have any problems so they can give you posture variations;
– Let your teachers know if they are pushing you further than they should;
– Work on your alignment; proper alignment strengthens the muscles around your joints protecting you from injuries;
– Use your props; don’t feel ashamed for using a block or a blanket for support, they were made for a reason; the correct use of props can even help you improve your practice;
– Practice regularly; only a regular practice can develop your strength and flexibility;
– Remember that Yoga is not a gym practice and it goes far beyond being flexible or standing on your head.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy practice… Namaste!

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