by Iva deMartelly
An incredible benefit of yoga is that regular asana can help prevent disease, inflammation, and injury before it actually manifests, which is why I am a huge supporter of recommending a yoga practice to athletes. Athletics that have weight bearing components like running, biking, and even tennis can put a lot of long term strain on your hips, hamstrings and lower back. Lifting weights, playing football, and rowing crew put a lot of tension and strain in your shoulders that can manifest into injury if not treated.
Since stretching is usually consistent in a warm up and cool down for most athletic practice, why not incorporate a few yoga poses as well? Here are a few of my favorites for athletes.
Yoga For Runners (and those who run in sports- soccer, basketball, tennis)
Runners tend to have a lot of inflammation in the Achilles heel, ankle, calves, and surrounding tendons. Poses that help stretch, lubricate, and ease pain are Downward Facing Dog, Upward Facing Dog, Bound Angle Pose, Reclining Hand- to- big- Toe pose (Supta Padangusthasana), and Hero Pose (with toes on the ground).
Yoga for Weight Lifting
Weight lifting is excellent for building muscle, but people often find that with all the gain in muscle bulk, their range of motion becomes limited. This can actually be a dangerous side effect and limit an overall fitness level. Yoga practiced after weights can remedy this, as well as providing much needed relief for sore muscles! Poses that help stretch tight muscles from weight lifting are Warrior 2, Upward Dog, Downward Dog, Standing Forward Fold, Triangle Pose, Dolphin, Cow Face, and Crescent Lunges with twists.
Remember, pushing yourself into a yoga pose can also cause injury! Many times when we look up the names of the yoga poses we want to try we are shown a photo of the full expression of an advanced yoga practitioner- realistically our pose may look nothing like theirs! Make sure you also look up modifications for the pose, use props when needed, and always always remember- it’s about what feels good to your body, on the day you are doing it.
Shake it up this week Athletes!