Study of Yoga Related Injury finds 3x Higher Risk in Older Population

In what is described as the first large scale study, researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham have concluded that the practice of yoga is "relatively safe" but with a higher incidence of injury in older participants that can be mitigated by the presence of a qualified instructor. The research team, from the Center for Injury Sciences, based their conclusions on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System collected in 2001 and again in 2014. The overall rate of yoga-related injury increased from 10 per 100,000 participants in 2001 to 17 per 100,000 in 2014. Among participants over 65 years old, the injury rate was 58 per 100,000. Of the close to 30,000 injuries sustained, about 50% were injury to the trunk and 45% were related to strains or sprains. Lead author Thomas Swain, MPH, commented "...the injury rate is increasing over time, which may be a reflection of the increase in popularity of yoga, leading to an increase in inexperienced participants who do not take the necessary precautions to avoid injury." The findings are published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

According to The Yoga in America Study, some 36.7 million Americans now participate in yoga. Gerald McGwin, PhD, director of the Center for Injury Sciences and co-author of the latest research said "Yoga is harder and more demanding than some people believe. You need a realistic view of your own abilities, and you need to understand that some poses might be too challenging and inappropriate." To help with that assessment, a qualified yoga instructor is an important asset, and a good resource is certification by the Yoga Alliance, the largest nonprofit yoga association. Read a news story about the recommendations here. The journal abstract may be read here.

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