By Andrew Weil, M.D
It’s true that you can hurt yourself doing yoga, but chances are you won’t, and I wouldn’t let fear of injury hold you back. Overall, yoga is relatively safe and injuries are relatively rare. In fact, that’s the conclusion of the first large-scale examination of yoga-related injuries, published in November 2016. The study, from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, looked at the rate of yoga injuries nationwide over a 13-year span as compiled by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. While the researchers found that the injury rate has been increasing over time, they suggested that the upswing might simply reflect the rising popularity of yoga.
The study found that the rate of yoga-related injuries increased to 17 per 100,000 participants in 2014 compared to 10 per 100,000 in 2001. All told, the researchers found 29,590 injuries over the 13 years, nearly half of which affected the trunk, while sprains or strains accounted for 45 percent. The injury rate was highest – 58 per 100,000 – among participants age 65 and older. It was 18 per 100,000 among those ages 45-64, and 12 per 100,000 in those 18-44. The researchers noted, however, that the actual risk might be higher, since they surveyed only individuals who sought medical attention in an emergency department.
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