Background: Yoga has become more popular among people in the United States and has been touted by both yoga participants as well as some physicians and researchers for its health benefits. While the health benefits have been studied, the frequency of injury among yoga participants has not been well documented.
Purpose: Injury incidence, rates, and types associated with yoga in the United States have not been quantified. This study estimates US yoga-associated injury incidence and characterizes injury type over a 13-year period.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 2001 to 2014 were used to estimate the incidence and type of yoga-associated injuries. The number and age distribution of yoga participants was estimated using data from National Health Statistics Reports. These national population estimates were applied to the NEISS data to determine injury rates overall and stratified according to age categories.
Results: There were 29,590 yoga-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments from 2001 to 2014. The trunk (46.6%) was the most frequent region injured, and sprain/strain (45.0%) accounted for the majority of diagnoses. The injury rate increased overall from 2001 to 2014, and it was greatest for those aged 65 years and older (57.9/100,000) compared with those aged 18 to 44 years (11.9/100,000) and 45 to 64 years (17.7/100,000) in 2014.
Conclusion: Participants aged 65 years and older have a greater rate of injury from practicing yoga when compared with other age groups. Most injuries sustained were to the trunk and involved a sprain/strain. While there are many health benefits to practicing yoga, participants and those wishing to become participants should confer with a physician prior to engaging in physical activity and practice only under the guidance of certified instructors.
Keywords: alternative medicine; elderly; injury; yoga.