Yoga can improve flexibility and balance, as well as a workout for the brain. Some research shows regular yoga practice lowers your risk for heart disease and hypertension, may also lessen symptoms of depression, headaches, and pain-related diseases like, arthritis. And because most types of yoga involve low-impact strength training, which studies show can help prevent bone loss, it can be a wonderful exercise to help prevent osteoporosis.
But a new study from a team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN suggests that certain yoga poses may cause bone injury in people with osteoporosis or osteopenia.
The research team analyzed the health records of 89 individuals with varying backgrounds in yoga who all experienced pain in their back, neck, shoulders, hips, or knees. Study participants referenced 12 yoga poses as either the source of pain, or contributing to pain exacerbation. Most of these poses involved flexing or extending the spine in particular.
In the end, the investigators concluded that, of those involved in the study, specific yoga poses had led to 29 types of bone injuries, including disk degeneration, vertebrae slippage, and compression fractures, likely due to poses where the pressure on disks and vertebrae is increased.
Poses to look out for? Participants specifically cited Downward-Facing Dog, Bridge Pose, and the Supported Headstand.
The good news is that there’s always a modification. If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, be sure to let your instructor know and ask for suggested modifications. And remember, it’s always ok to opt out of a pose and rest in Child’s Pose or Shavasana.
Concerned you may have osteoporosis? Invision Sally Jobe offers Bone Density Test – DXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry), which can determine if you have osteoporosis or low bone mass.