Are Yoga and Pilates Bad for You?

Santa Barbara Author and Chiropractor Says They Can Be

With the yoga and Pilates craze in full swing, Kevin Khalili, clinical director of the Laser Rehab Institute of Santa Barbara, explores the safety of the practices. In his new book, X-Posed: The Painful Truth Behind Yoga & Pilates, Khalili suggests that some exercises can be harmful, depending on your body type, and he uses scientific research to prove it. But rather than knocking yoga and Pilates down, he encourages the practices, along with some precaution. An interview delves deeper into Khalili’s thoughts.

What sparked your interest in the chiropractic field?

I always felt compelled to help people and discovered natural medicine while in high school. I knew then that this was the appropriate medium for me to help people. After 19 years in practice, I love my field more than ever.

What type of scientific data did you use in your research?

I have an extensive 105-source bibliography that encompasses mostly clinical, peer-reviewed research.

How often do you come across people who have been physically affected by yoga and Pilates?

It seems every week I encounter patients who unfortunately get injured as a result of yoga and Pilates.

Why are you targeting yoga and Pilates rather than other forms of exercise?

Keep in mind this is a pro-yoga and pro-Pilates book. Due to the continued surge in popularity, I felt it was appropriate to address them so that future needless pain and injuries could easily be prevented. Also, this is just my first book. I am currently working on a book to help people prevent tennis injuries.

Can you give some examples of poses that may be harmful to a body type?

Sitting, bending forward at the waist or neck, and inversion poses are harmful to most body types.

What kinds of injuries do people sustain from yoga and Pilates?

Primarily spinal injuries followed by shoulder, hip, knee, and wrist injuries.

Would you suggest that people avoid yoga and Pilates classes and simply do exercises at home?

I suggest people first get a proper screening so that they know which movements best suit their body types, and if they want they can attend a class. If the class does a motion that you know isn’t good for you, then modify or skip it. Most instructors are very willing to work with the individual needs of a person. My book only helps both the instructor and the student to focus on those specific needs.

Are there any completely safe forms of exercise?

Most noncontact exercise can be considered safe, including yoga and Pilates, only if the appropriate screening and preventative measures are put into place. I often refer to this as brushing and flossing of the body. We give the patient preventative tools so that they can safely enjoy the exercise of their choice.

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