Any athlete will look at ways in which they can maximise what their body can achieve and seek ways in which to enhance their health and wellbeing. Whether they are a runner or a cyclist or an athlete taking part in another sport, it is vital that their body is performing at its peak.
While they might have access to all the science behind nutrition, stretching and recovery, there is one more thing that they can try - Yoga.
Practised for centuries, this form of exercise brings with it a number of benefits and it can help athletes, but how?
Yoga can help increase strength
Every athlete will need an element of strength that helps them to perform in their chosen sport.
Yoga enables athletes to adopt a wide range of poses and postures that can help to build strength and tone muscles. Therefore, they can improve their core stability while they can also help to reduce the likelihood of injury from overuse. This is achieved by strengthening the supporting muscles and those that have not developed adequately. This helps to create a balance within the muscles that can help them to get the most from their body each time they perform.
Not everyone is born with good balance and so, working on that balance can help to improve the way in which athletes perform. Through yoga, athletes can improve their coordination and their balance and that can improve techniques, form and control. Athletes are constantly looking to improve their techniques in order to gain an advantage over their competition and that is where yoga really can help to take them to the next level.[caption id="attachment_513" align="aligncenter" width="2560"]Young woman and man working out indoors. Two people streching their legs on the floor of a gym.[/caption]
Yoga can make you more flexible
Any athlete will need to be flexible as they need to make sure that they can use their muscles in a way that enables them to perform. Through Yoga, athletes can improve their muscle and joint flexibility, all of this enables the body to move and work in the right way. Through a great range of motion, it increases the performance levels of athletes. So, whether you’re a swimmer attempting to perfect a stroke or a runner who needs to bring their legs higher in order to generate power, enhanced flexibility can help. A byproduct of this is the fact that they can then improve strength conditioning and a certain muscle group due them using it in the right way. The more flexible athletes are, the less likely they are to suffer from an overuse injury.
To be a top athlete, you need to be mentally strong. This means that you need to focus, tune out of any distractions and put your mind on the task in hand. As a result, Yoga can help athletes to work the mind and improve their mental wellbeing. While many people will see yoga as a workout for the body, it does go much deeper than that. It requires athletes to tune into their body while the silence and serenity allow them to focus on what they are doing. With meditative sessions, it enables athletes to clear the mind and gain an understanding of where they are at that moment in time. That alone can help them to perform.
Most athletes require an element of endurance and if they don’t need it when performing, they will certainly need it when training. Yoga enables athletes to align themselves with their body and mind as it can show them how to manage the way in which they perform as well as how they perform and all of that can help them to get the most from their body
After athletes have performed, recovery is everything as it enables them to avoid injury and prepare the body for performing again. When they perform yoga, they are paying attention to the body and what it wants and needs. They are stretching muscles that are often in a state of contractions and that can help prevent the muscles from tightening, which in turn can lead to injury.
Many sports have repetitive motions or movements and these sports can cause weaknesses in certain muscles. Over time, there will be an imbalance in the muscles and that can cause injury. This will include injuries such as hamstring problems, tight hip flexors as well as joint problems.
Even though athletes stretch before and after exercise, the stretches often focus on stretching the muscles in one direction. While this helps, it does not offer the same range of movements that are used in Yoga. When practising Yoga, athletes will move the body in a wide range of directions meaning that the joints and muscles, including those muscles that are not used regularly, all get used. This helps to create a balance that can prevent injury.