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What’s the connection between yoga and pain in the elbows, wrists, or hands?

Painful elbowYoga is generally considered one of the more therapeutic forms of physical activity, but recent research offers evidence that – like any other exercise – yoga must be approached with caution and with medical guidance. Although many people benefit from yoga, and may experience less pain as a result of practicing it, others may suffer serious pain.

A recent study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and reported in Science Daily has found that yoga sometimes leads to serious musculoskeletal pain; shoulders and different parts of the arm and hand are especially susceptible. Yoga also sometimes makes existing injuries worse.

How do you know if yoga will benefit you or lead to problems?

The recent findings highlight the fact that certain forms of exercise can work a lot better for some people and not as much for others. Again, this research doesn’t show that yoga isn’t helpful. People often report using it successfully for pain relief. But we can’t ignore the fact that for some, yoga might not be so beneficial.

Part of the issue is also how it’s practiced. When people don’t work with an experienced and reputable teacher who is understanding of different body types and health needs, they may suffer from practicing yoga. For example, they may do the poses incorrectly, putting unhealthy pressure on the joints in their hands and arms.

The key is to discuss these issues with medical practitioners, physical therapists, and yoga instructors. If you already have an injury in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, or hands, maybe you need to avoid certain poses or perform them with modifications. Maybe you also need to change your yoga schedule so that you have more of a break between sessions and aren’t over-straining yourself. Furthermore, as you practice yoga, it’s important to make note of any pain you’re experiencing, what it feels like, and whether it worsens or not.