Yoga’s appeal is growing in Australia and worldwide but new research released on Wednesday suggests it is not as safe as previously believed. A joint study conducted by the University of Sydney and the Mercy College in New York has found that 10 percent of people who practice yoga experience musculoskeletal pain while 21 percent of those studied experience further pain to existing injuries, Xinhua news agency reports.
According to a 2016 Roy Morgan poll, yoga, which originated in ancient India, is Australia’s fastest growing sporting or fitness activity, with over two million Australians participating regularly.
But one of the authors of the study which looked at injury rates for those who practice yoga, Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences, told Xinhua that his study was the first time that the risks of participating in the fitness activity had been outlined.
“We wanted to objectively assess the benefits of yoga in terms of musculoskeletal pain as well as the risks,” Pappas said.
“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. However people consider it to be a very safe activity.”
The new data shows that the injury rate for those who practice yoga is almost 10 times higher than what has been previously reported. The expert believes that more interaction was needed between those in the yoga community and medical experts.
“Our study highlights the importance of very open and honest communication within the triangle of the yoga practitioner, the yoga teacher and healthcare professionals,” Pappas said.
The practice of yoga requires many complicated and strenuous poses. The study found that many of the injuries involved were isolated to the “upper extremities” of the patients (hands, elbows, wrists, shoulders), and suggested this could be due to the weight being placed on the limbs.
But Pappas made it clear that yoga was still a very effective tool to be used in conjunction with other therapies for the relief of injuries and pain.