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Yoga Practitioners with Osteoporosis Should Avoid Spinal Poses

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Mar 2019
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN, USA) conducted a study involving 89 patients treated between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2018, retrospectively reviewing their medical records in order to analyze injuries identified as directly associated with yoga practice. Injuries were categorized as soft tissue injury, axial nonbony injury, and bony injury. All patients underwent evaluation to identify specific yoga poses thought to be detrimental, with 12 poses identified as causing the most damage involved with hyperflexion and hyperextension of the spine.

The results revealed that within the soft tissue injury group, 74.2% had mechanical myofascial pain due to overuse, rotator cuff injury was seen in 6.7%, and trochanteric bursopathy was observed in one patient. In the axial nonbony injury group, acerbation of pain in degenerative joint disease was seen in 51.7%), facet arthropathy was observed in another 38.2%, and radiculopathy was seen in five patients. Within the bony injury category, kyphoscoliosis, spondylolisthesis, anterior wedging, and compression fractures were almost equally present. The study was published on February 18, 2019, in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Image: A new study warns that yoga postures that flex the spine beyond its limits may raise the risk of compression fractures in people suffering from osteoporosis (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
Image: A new study warns that yoga postures that flex the spine beyond its limits may raise the risk of compression fractures in people suffering from osteoporosis (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

“Yoga has many benefits; it improves balance, flexibility, strength and is a good social activity. But if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you should modify the postures to accommodate your condition,” said senior author rehabilitation specialist Mehrsheed Sinaki, MD, of the Mayo Clinic. “Care must be taken when performing positions with extreme spinal flexion and extension. As people age, they can benefit by getting a review of their old exercise regimens to prevent unwanted injury. Physicians should consider this risk when discussing yoga as exercise.”

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines, which originated in ancient India. In the Western world, it is often identified with Hatha yoga, which includes the physical practice of stances that emphasis detail, precision, and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). The development of strength, mobility, and stability is gained through practice of the asanas.

Related Links:
Mayo Clinic


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