While yoga practice has shown to be beneficial in maintaining overall health and helpful in rehabilitation from some injuries, it can also have serious detrimental effects to the neck and spine.
Some of the poses take a practitioner's normal range of movement for the neck and lower spine to its extreme. Unfortunately, because some incompetent instructors allow overzealous students to attempt to exceed these natural limitations, severe injuries may occur.
These injuries may manifest themselves over time, or all at once, when damage or irritation to nerves and blood vessels makes both yoga practice and everyday activities too painful to continue.
What are some of the popular yoga poses that can create these injuries?
Headstands and shoulder stands
Both of these activities place excessive pressure on the spinal vertebra in the neck. A head stand consists of balancing completely on the crown of the head, with the full weight of the body supported by the neck muscles, with the arms acting only for balance.
Shoulder stands involve lying on the floor and lifting the body until it is fully supported by the arms, with only the head, neck, and elbows touching the floor. This places the neck in an unnatural position, with the chin against the chest, and beyond its normal range of movement.
Unfortunately, for an activity in which ego is supposed to be suppressed, some practitioners and instructors try to exceed a practical range of movement and a realistic amount of time to hold these difficult poses. The results can be nerve damage and a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can result in serious mobility issues, severe headaches, and even strokes.
This pose involves the practitioner lying on their back and arching their spine until they are fully supported by the feet, hands, and head. While even executing this pose within a practical range of movement induces stress on spinal vertebra, some practitioners attempt to arch their spines to a point where the vertebra become misaligned.
This can cause the nerves along the spinal cord to be pinched or otherwise irritated, causing severe pain in the lower back, or in the lower body if the sciatic nerve that connects at the base of the spine to become irritated or inflamed.
How can this type of injury be treated?
Of course, the first step is to curtail or cease yoga practice to avoid aggravating the injury. Pain management will depend on the extent of the injury.
Opiate painkillers may be needed for short term relief if the pain is so excruciating that it becomes unbearable. Sadly, these narcotics are highly addictive and can only be used sparingly
Chiropractic adjustment of the spinal column will help to realign the spinal vertebra so that the sources of nerve irritation and blood flow restrictions are eliminated. This will help to relive pain and enhance healing.
Serious deterioration or wearing of spinal vertebra in the back or neck may require spinal fusion, which involves holding vertebra in place with a titanium rod that is screwed into place in the neck or back. This places a permanent lack of mobility and range of movement in the area of the fusion.
Sometimes the fluidity of movement and enhanced flexibility sought by yoga practitioners can produce just the opposite effect unless discipline and ego control are taught and practiced along with the poses. Contact a business, such as Gerleman Chiropractic Office, for more information.