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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #95 -- Exercise Caution With Any Exercise Program
January 23, 2012

(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)

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Exercise Caution With Any Exercise Program

Today (January 23, 2012) CNN ran a story entitled, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, which recently appeared in the New York Times. The article focused on a side of yoga that many people rarely hear of - injuries.

According to the article, many people have suffered yoga-related injuries. The author of the New York Times article frequently cites and gives the real life experience of Glenn Black, a yoga instructor who has 40 years teaching experience.

"Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It's controversial to say, but it really shouldn't be used for a general class," says Glenn Black (How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body; New York Times article.)

The New York Times article gives a few actual cases of people suffering sometimes debilitating injuries originating from the practice of yoga. The injuries ranged from nerve damage to strokes.

As always, current experts are interviewed by CNN for their take on a particular story. The general consensus by the yoga instructors interviewed was that the story was unduly biased toward the negative aspects of yoga.

I, however, found the story to be balanced and not at all alarmist. It merely pointed out the consequences that could happen to anyone in any sport or exercise routine.

As the article stated, any preexisting injury can be aggravated by attempting to perform certain yoga poses. And anyone could injure himself by not exercising (pun intended) caution in any type of exercise - whether it be yoga, cardio, weightlifting, or even walking at a brisk pace.

I have over 30 years of bodybuilding experience; and I would be the first to tell you that you can seriously injure yourself if certain precautions are not taken.

I permanently injured my lower back by lifting weights. But I can't blame bodybuilding or weightlifting for my injury. It was due to my use of improper technique.

My lower back injury resulted specifically from doing squats. It is very easy to hurt yourself doing squats if you are not very careful with form and technique.

Your abdominals (core) should be tight, and your lower back straight. Your natural spine curvature should not be exaggerated. And your descent into the squatting position should be controlled and in a straight line.

No one should be doing squats with a preexisting lower back injury. The very nature of the squat will place stress on it.

And as with any exercise, care should be taken to warm up thoroughly. Initially your muscles and joints are cold and stiff. You need to get blood circulating in them before they are placed under any kind of stress.

I also would strongly advise that any beginner in any sport or exercise seek counsel from a knowledgeable person. As with bodybuilding or weightlifting, there are many certified trainers to show the correct way to perform any exercise.

And even with a qualified teacher, not everyone will be able to perform every yoga exercise or bodybuilding exercise. Know your limitations and work around them. But regardless of what any trainer or teacher tells you, if you are unable to perform a certain movement - don't try to do it!

As with anything else, exercise or a sport program can be taken to the extreme. The yoga article pointed out that some practitioners took certain poses to extreme levels. This was done by bending or twisting their necks or backs to the point where blood flow was restricted or cut off, or nerve damage occurred.

Be cautious in any exercise program! Be certain to warm up thoroughly and know your body. The older you get, the less your body is able to do. A 60 year old like myself cannot do what a 20-year old can do.

In closing, let me drive home the point that there is nothing inherently wrong with yoga. Doing it slowly and cautiously and right will certainly eliminate any chance of injury.

Use wisdom, and don't let your ego get the best of you.

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