When Yoga and Pilates Go Bad

LJK, a New York businessman and former movie studio executive had just assumed his normal pilates position when he felt and heard a distinct "pop" in his lower back. This was accompanied, he said, "by some of the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life."

It took four ambulance attendants to carry him down a flight of stairs from the upper East Side pilates studio to the waiting ambulance.

The diagnosis? A ruptured lumbar disc. The treatment? Surgery to remove disc fragments impinging on LJK’s spinal cord.

He joined one of over 13,000 Americans treated in ERs during just the last year alone for yoga and pilates-related injuries.

His lesson, and the lesson for other yoga/pilates devotees is that your body isn’t a pretzel, and the effects of aging on joints and spinal columns doesn’t magically disappear through the ministrations of yoga. You must slowly learn these disciplines, and you must find a well-trained instructor. And even with all of these precautions, one wrong move can spell disaster.

Don’t necessarily trust the perfectly-sculpted instructor at your health club for instruction. And, by the way, don’t expect yoga or pilates to peel off the inches or pounds. For that you’ll need to hit the cardio machines or spinning classes.

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