Five Views On Yoga-Related Elbow Injuries

Views from 5 Yoga experts on Yoga injury risks - Especially Elbow Hyperextension injuries in Hypermobile Women.

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  1. In October of 2010, Dr. Michelle Carlson, an Orthopedic Surgeon at 'Hospital For Special Surgery' published an article at 'She Knows' entitled: 'Yoga Injuries On The Rise In Women' Describing how she had seen an increase in patients (over the course of several years) suffering from hand or wrist pain brought on or aggravated by yoga practice. She stated that:

    “I recall one day last year when four women in a row came to see me with hand injuries they sustained while doing yoga. Four women in one day!”
  2. In February of 2012, William J Broad, a science journalist and senior writer at The New York Times, published The Science of Yoga: The Risks And The Rewards (Amazon link) - diving into the subject of Yoga Injuries in chapter 4.
  3. The following year, Brood wrote a controversial article in the NY Times: 'Women’s Flexibility Is a Liability (in Yoga)'

    He related how a Yoga Teacher / Author in Hawaii, Michaelle Edwards, (YogAlign) contacted him about a serious, but little-known hip-injury risk to women. This led Brood to reach out to Orthopedic Surgeons and he discovered:

    “To my astonishment, some of the nation’s top surgeons declared the trouble to be real — so real that hundreds of women who did yoga were showing up in their offices with unbearable pain..."
  4. In this case, the focus is on hip joint injuries, but the severity of this particular type of hip cartilage damage is very disturbing, and hopefully, the alarm being sounded about it will help bring more attention to the lesser-known (but, admittedly, less severe) elbow-related injuries.
  5. In the video below, Michaelle Edwards, creator of the YogAlign Method, discusses the dangers of ‘Ligament Laxity’ compounded by Hyperextension in certain Yoga poses.

    From about the 4:45 mark to 5:15 Michaelle has her Yoga Model demonstrate what she says is the “wrong way” to do Downward Dog Pose. Observe the obvious Elbow Hyperextension that follows:

    (Which may contribute to or aggravate Tennis Elbow or other injuries of the wrist and elbow area.)
  6. Yoga Teacher and studio owner of '80 Gladstone,' Diane Bruni, has an excellent article on the subject of ‘Hypermobility’ – as it relates to Yoga. She tells us that:

    “Many famous yoga teachers are hypermobile,… people who are hypermobile are more likely to injure themselves, and their injuries are slower to heal..."
  7. Shannon Wianecki, another Yoga Teacher, reveals that “Hyperextension of joints is chronic in the yoga world.”

    In her article, 'Yoga Dos and Don'ts: Elbow Alert' she describes how she was already in chronic pain in her wrists when she began practicing Yoga due to her "distorted" elbows, and how her Yoga Teacher pointed this out to her in one of her first classes.
  8. Here's my own post (view #6, since I'm not an authority on Yoga - but am very passionate about Tennis Elbow and other elbow injuries!)
  9. And a slideshow, demonstrating some of the main Yoga poses of concern (involving weight-bearing with fully-extended "straight" elbows:)
  10. Other Views On Yoga-Related Injury (7,8 & 9)

  11. In a Yoganonymous article, Jill Abelson ponders how three of the most fundamental poses could be putting Yoga practitioners in the hospital for hip replacements (referencing William Broad's article in the NYTimes - See above.)

    And expresses alarm at how the Yoga industry’s reaction to the news appears to blame the victims, implying that it’s reckless students—not teachers nor the practice, itself — who are at fault.

    A well-written article with many thoughtful comments: "Yoga Injuries: Whose Responsibility is It? A Call to Action for Yoga Teachers & Studio Owners"
  12. Here's an article on "The Most Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them" - It leads off with wrists, elbows and shoulders.
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