Every personal trainer has a handful of gold-star clients who manage to power through every move and lift, without breaking much of a sweat. Take my 55-year-old cousin Sophie, whom I saw for a quick session last month.
But for the first time ever, she was struggling. During a regular press-up routine, I noticed her right shoulder drooping – and every time she pushed back up, she’d wince in pain.
I expected she’d been lifting too many heavy weights, without enough rest. I was wrong. It was caused by yoga – the supposedly gentle, ancient Indian practice involving a series of stretching movements.
A graphic shows how two different exercises can help protect your shoulders from injury
What’s the difference… between autism and Asperger’s syndrome?
Both autism and Asperger’s syndrome are disorders that affect the way an individual sees the world.
This includes having problems interpreting language and hand gestures, and taking longer to understand emotional cues such as facial expressions.
Previously, doctors and behavioural experts would make distinctions between the two – but more recently, healthcare professionals see autism as a spectrum of behaviours, on which Asperger’s sits.
However, while people with autism may have learning disabilities, this is uncommon in people with Asperger’s.
In fact, those with Asperger’s often have above-average intelligence.
Since taking up a daily online class in April – bitten by the lockdown fitness bug – Sophie had been finding that lifting shopping bags and hair-washing had become a challenge.
Worryingly, she isn’t the first yoga-bunny to suffer this problem – what I like to call, yoga overkill. It is becoming something of a trend among my clients, and yoga teacher friends of mine are seeing it too.
Mel Bentinck, an instructor based in London, told me she’s seen the problem cropping up in a number of new students, all of whom have been following DIY tutorials online.
Her clients, like mine, are mostly younger or middle-aged, so are likely to recover quickly from injury. But I became particularly worried when I heard that scores of older, less agile adults were taking up the practice too.
Last week a study by researchers at University College London revealed that the over-65s are the only age group that have taken up more exercise since March.
The researchers suggested older Britons are taking advantage of activities they can do at home – and learn online – including yoga. Sales of yoga equipment are up almost 300 per cent, and views of popular YouTube tutorials are topping seven million.
The practice is NHS-recommended – GPs advise that it can combat a host of ailments from depression to osteoporosis – as part of the Government’s £20 billion boost for ‘social prescribing’ treatments. Many care homes even put on classes for residents who are, arguably, already at an increased risk of muscular and skeletal injuries.
I’m not disputing that the exercise boasts tremendous benefits for both…