Yoga postures that flex the spine beyond its limits may raise the risk of compression fractures in people with thinning bones, according to research in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. After reviewing the health records of 89 people—mostly women—referred to the Mayo Clinic from 2006 to 2018 for pain they attributed to their yoga practice, researchers identified 29 bony injuries including degeneration of disks, slippage of vertebrae and compression fractures. The latter appeared to be related to postures that put extra pressure on the vertebra and disks, but patients who incorporated recommendations to modify their movements reduced their pain and improved their symptoms. “Yoga has many benefits—it improves balance, flexibility and strength, and is a good social activity—but as people age, they can benefit by getting a review of their old exercise regimens to prevent unwanted consequences,” says Mehrsheed Sinaki, MD, a Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and the study’s senior author. “If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you should modify the postures to accommodate your condition.” In a separate commentary, Edward Laskowski, MD, co-chair of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, called on providers, patients and yoga teachers to work together to produce an individualized exercise prescription that considers yoga students’ medical history to protect against injury and provide optimal benefit.
This story first appeared in the June issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.