Is Yoga Bad For You?
It depends on whether it is done appropriately. Yoga along with today's other similar lifestyle exercises such as Pilates are often prescribed as a way to take care of your back or neck pains. However, the problem doesn't really lie with the exercises. Rather with the understanding of what it can do and what it can't do.
Yoga, pilates and tai-chi are all great exercises to help maintain a healthy back. The two keywords here are 'maintain' and 'healthy' back. If you have a back problem or a neck strain, you shouldn't really jump into these exercises You want to fix your back. Not maintain it. At least that's the first thing you want to do. But what if you take it slow, would that help?
According to Sylvia Ho, a principal physiotherapist with Core Concepts, "We often recommend our clients take up some form of exercise, including yoga and pilates. But not before they are ready." "Back pains and neck pains are complex problems. Just because they are quite common doesn't mean that they are simple or all have the same underlying cause.", adds Sylvia.
Core Concepts recently revamped their core stability programme to further break down the initial stages of training to include sessions with Real-Time Ultrasound Imaging (RTUI). Sylvia explains, "with RTUI, our clients can get a better grasp of the fundamentals before progressing on to the group classes."
The concepts of prevention and treatment often get jumbled up. The average person thinks that if something helps prevent a problem, it must also be helpful in treating or fixing the problem. For example, if we have a fever, we might take paracetamol (Panadol) to bring the fever down. But we don't take paracetamol on a daily basis to prevent fever. In fact, you are more likely to suffer side-effects from over consumption of it.
Given the rise in the number of injuries, there are increasing concerns about the qualification of these yoga instructors as was recently reported in Channel News Asia ("Hong Kong's yoga boom sparks injury surge") . Sylvia feels that is only half of the equation. "You can't only depend on someone else to advise you on what's appropriate. You have take some proactive action on your own to better understand your conditions and needs," she adds. While it can be daunting to dig through all the available information, Sylvia feels that some knowledge is better than none.
If you have a back problem, first seek a health professional's advice. Even if you have been given the green light to go ahead with yoga or pilates, ease into it slowly. Remember that it has taken your instructor years of training and practice to be able to do what she or he is doing up in front of the class.
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