Thursday, July 2, 2015

Benefits of Yoga for the Athlete

By Ashley Luedke

Over the last 4 months I have ventured on a journey of doing Yoga. During my first week of class I got slapped in the face coming to realize how inflexible I was. Like seriously, yoga humbled me entirely. I got to thinking about the runners I work with as an athletic trainer and how some also suffer from the curse of not being flexible and how the benefits of this peaceful practice are far more than just becoming flexible. 
                  Runners are strong in ways that relate to running which involves the lower body and primary movement in the sagittal plane with some rotational component.  The focus on these planes cause certain muscles to become stronger while others that are underused remain weaker. Many people would agree that runners have strong legs built for a combination of power and endurance but when faced with the challenge of holding a standing static yoga pose, they are shocked when they find their legs to feel like jelly. Why this happens you ask? Well a properly aligned yoga pose involves using all the muscles in a variety of planes and using muscles you haven't worked before. The muscles that are weaker tend to fatigue quickly and those muscles that are tight scream for release.
                  A balanced yoga practice requires most of the muscles in the body to perform some action and fire to keep you in line and balanced. At the same time your joints are taken through their full ranges of motion as the corresponding muscles contract or stretch to support the movement. This is where your body increases in flexibility. As a personal testament, I can say that my flexibility increased immensely.
                  Balance and stability in yoga is huge aspect of the practice. Improving your balance will help the athlete decrease in falls and injury. When you relax and learn how to be soft and go with the flow, you can more easily bend and are less likely to break or fall over. Stability in yoga helps strengthen all the of those little stabilizing muscles that people tend to miss in other physical workouts and are vital in protecting your joints.
                 I believe yoga is so important is the recovery of the athletes and it can help put athletes back together after workouts or injuries. It allows you to tune into your body and give it the care it wants and needs. Yoga elongates all the muscles that athletes spend so long contracting so it is a great counter-action.
                  Lastly, not to get to hippy but yoga changes the way you think and approach everything in life. When you learn to move with ease and stop forcing things, you will prevent injuries and your body will open with your mind, increasing flexibility all around.

                  Thank you for reading this article! Namaste!


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