Woman practicing yoga

Common Yoga Injuries in the Elbow & Shoulder

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Silhouette of young woman practicing yoga on the beachYoga can be a great form of exercise with many health benefits including increased strength and flexibility and reduced tension. Not surprisingly, millions of Americans take to the mat on a regular basis. With the increasing popularity of yoga practice there has also been a rise in yoga injuries, specifically in the elbow and shoulder.

Yoga injuries can range from occasional mild pain to more serious strains and dislocations. They may emerge from a singular incident or from repeated wear over time with consistent over-stretching and misalignment.


Here are some of the most common injuries of the elbow and shoulder that occur from practicing yoga and tips from NYC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mendoza on how to prevent them.

  • Elbow injuries – Certain yoga poses involving the elbows being bent out to the sides, such as chaturanga or plank, can stress the joints. Aim to keep your elbows more closely tucked in towards the ribs when lowering the body down to the floor. In addition, modifying poses that cause elbow pain (such as beginning with knees on the mat to absorb some body weight) is a good idea, especially for beginners.
  • Shoulder injuries – Many yoga positions are geared towards stretching and lengthening, but beware of overextending and over-stretching the muscles and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joints. Avoid pulling too hard on the shoulders in stretches and always keep the shoulders held back, down and away from the ears when practicing.

As with any type of physical activity, it is best to start with learning and mastering the fundamental techniques and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your practice over time. In addition, you should always listen to your body and avoid poses or modifications that push your comfort level too far.

If you are experiencing recurring pain in your shoulder or elbow as a result of your yoga practice, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mendoza. For many patients, conservative treatment options are extremely effective at treating elbow or shoulder injuries without the need for surgery. After a thorough evaluation of your condition, Dr. Mendoza will tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs designed to get you back on the mat pain-free.

Watch this patient testimonials video to see what Lauren, a yoga instructor who suffered a shoulder injury, has to say about her treatment from Dr. Mendoza.

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