MELBOURNE: Yoga may not be as safe as popularly believed, say scientists who have found that the ancient Indian meditative practice may causes muscle and bone pain and even exacerbate existing injuries, reports Reuters.
The findings, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, come from the first prospective study to investigate injuries caused from recreational participation in yoga.
Yoga is an increasingly popular complementary or alternative therapy for musculoskeletal disorders, with millions of people practicing worldwide.
"While yoga can be beneficial for musculoskeletal pain, like any form of exercise, it can also result in musculoskeletal pain," said Evangelos Pappas from the University of Sydney in Australia.
"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," said Pappas.
"We also found that yoga can exacerbate existing pain, with 21 per cent of existing injuries made worse by doing yoga, particularly pre-existing musculoskeletal pain in the upper limbs," 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.
"In terms of severity, more than one-third of cases of pain caused by yoga were serious enough to prevent yoga participation and lasted more than three months," Pappas said.
However, 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.
"Pain caused by yoga might be prevented by careful performance and participants telling their yoga teachers of injuries they may have prior to participation, as well as informing their healthcare professionals about their yoga practice," Pappas said.
"Yoga participants are encouraged to discuss the risks of injury and any pre-existing pain, especially in the upper limbs, with yoga teachers and physiotherapists to explore posture modifications that may results in safer practice," he said.