It’s no lie that we all train hard to perform our best. Enduring long hours of practice and strength training to achieve our goals. But maybe, its time to utilize the softer side of training: Yoga.
Yoga has a many health benefits to athletes and the general population. The National Center of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine indicate those who practice yoga, both athletes and non-athletes, experienced a lower heart rate level, increased oxygen intake, and increased flexibility and strength.
Here is a list of the other benefits of Yoga:
1. Injury Prevention:
Nothing is worse than sitting out for the rest of the season. But repetitive movements in sports create tightness in certain muscle groups creating imbalances that could ultimately lead to injury. Tighter muscles pull at joint ligaments leaving the athlete at a higher risk of injury. Yoga stretches loosens muscles especially around the joints allowing for more elasticity in the muscles. This creates higher flexibility, stability, and allows an athlete to have full mobility of the joints.
In the case an athlete gets injured, yoga lets them recover faster than simply resting. As a low impact exercise, yoga focuses on breathing and elongating tight muscles. This then creates better blood flow to remove scar tissue within the injured area. Yoga is also a great way to cool down after strenuous workouts. You’ll feel better and recover much faster.
Yoga teaches its practitioners to calm their minds and focus on the task at hand. It makes the practitioner be in the present and observe their surroundings while also being aware of themselves. This type of calm and focus is necessary for athletes facing stressful situations such as the last few moments of a game.
Take it from Kevin Garnett, who uses yoga to improve his game.
4. Core Strength
Yoga poses are all about slow and focused movements that create isometric contractions throughout the midsection. The poses are meant to stretch and strengthen the core to protect the spine. When the muscles that surround the spine are healthy, pressure will be removed from the spine and relieves pain. High impact sports such as football could benefit from basic poses such as the “Cat” and the “Cobra.”
Most sports train the same movement patters and this recruit the same muscle groups which lead to muscle imbalances; and often times we overlook these imbalances. Most athletes will notice that once side may be tighter than the other when they stretch. When muscular imbalances occur our bodies want to reset the balance by tightening opposing muscles. This then throws the body out of alignment. Yoga helps realign the body and move naturally.
With that said, that doesn’t mean every athlete should stop training and join a yoga class. Simply, incorporate basic yoga poses into their training regiment
Yoga Poses for Athletes:
The Warrior 1 & 2