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Yoga: Not Just For Young Flexible Females

Yoga: Not Just For Young Flexible Females
Yoga: Not Just For Young Flexible Females

Yoga: Something For Everyone

As a physiotherapist when I suggest to some of my patients that yoga would be greatly beneficial for them many look at me with a horrified look. Imagining as a middle aged unfit and inflexible male embarrassing themselves trying to touch their toes in a room otherwise full of bendy 20 something females.
However these days this is not the case, yoga is a fairly mainstream form of exercise which both males and females of all ages are singing it’s praises.

Common Yoga Myths

  • It’s only for hippies.
  • It’s only for women.
  • You have to be flexible people do it.
  • It’s a young mans game.
  • All it is is just stretching exercises.
  • You have to wear lycra.

As A Physiotherapist, Who Do I Refer To Yoga?

Running a Sydney CBD physiotherapy practice you could imagine the majority of my clientele are office workers, your typical overworked desk jockeys. Meaning most people coming to see me for physiotherapy treatment and advice are short on time, so if they actually manage to find the time to escape their desk and do some exercise they generally don’t include much time in this session for stretching. Now combine this with spending way to long slumped in a chair staring at a computer screen each day and it makes my patient list pretty heavily swayed towards a population of stiff individuals with weak core muscles and poor posture.

Further more considering that back and neck pain generally are two of the most common reasons people seek out physiotherapy treatment you can already imagine the answer to the question who do I refer to Yoga is… A lot of people!

The All Bran Challenge

There use to be an ad on TV regarding the “All Bran challenge” where viewers were encouraged to eat All Bran every day for a month and see how much better they feel after doing so. Obviously there was a little * and in very fine print down the bottom of the ad it included a statement indicating something along the lines of “when combined with a healthy well balanced diet and a physical exercise regimen…”
I suggest to a number of my appropriate patients the idea of the 30 day yoga challenge but this challenge has no fine print. Simply introduce yoga into your life for a month and at the end of the month see how good you feel. Now from a tissue modification point of view changes are typically slower than this and more in the realm of a few months not a few weeks but pain relief, freedom of movement and postural changes can all precede actual tissue change meaning often a month of doing classes can in many easily highlight just how much your body has been missing movement!

Yoga Isn’t Only Good For Helping With Back Pain

Yoga can play a very important role in many of my Sydney physio patents rehabilitation programs due to the core strength, balance, flexibility, fitness and stress relief actions it has on the body.
Conditions you wouldn’t imagine can benefit greatly from yoga, the individual chronically spraining their ankle can benefit from the balance work undertaken in the classes, just as a runner with knee pain can find the core strength gains and the improved mobility to their calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, glutes… that yoga creates of significant benefit. The stressed out executive with regular headaches can get good relief from the spinal mobility poses, the postural retraining as well as the relaxation side of a class too.

Are Their Any Injuries People Commonly Get From Yoga?

Typically providing that attending a class is an appropriate thing for the person to be doing I don’t typically see many injuries in my Sydney CBD physiotherapy patients that I would consider specifically caused by yoga.

  • Overstretching: If I do see any injuries it is usually people getting too competitive and over stretching (most commonly their hamstrings) and straining muscles or irritating neural tissues by pushing themselves too hard.
  • Wrist Pain: A few individuals doing yoga will complain of wrist pain in certain poses which are loading up their wrists (typically when adopting push-up type positions for the wrists). This is usually managed by altering their wrist angle via positional adjustments or the use of supports in any poses causing discomfort.
  • Back And Neck Pain: The most significant issue I will occasionally see in my Sydney physiotherapy practice caused from yoga would be back and neck pain. Spinal pain or injury can be caused similar to the muscle strains mentioned above, being caused from over stretching or from attempting positions too advanced for the individual (head and shoulder stands spring to mind here). The other situation where yoga is the cause (or more accurately the aggravator) of spinal pain is when someone who has already developed back pain goes to yoga to “stretch it out”. Sometimes the session will involve movements that provoke the condition and can make their pain worse.

Despite this small risk of injury or pain in a select few I feel yoga is a very appropriate and beneficial activity for many and recommend it as such. I am sure most, if not all yoga instructors would consider some form of yoga has the potential be of benefit to everyone the specific approach would just need to be customized to the individuals needs. As always when starting any new exercise it is important to get professional advice regarding its suitability and yoga is no different in this respect especially if you are suffering with back pain.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any specific treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Yoga: Not Just For Young Flexible Females should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, yoga instructor or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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