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How Yoga Can Help Improve Athletic Performance

Posted by James Oakley on
yoga for athletes

With the commencement of the Tokyo Olympics, there’s bound to be a significant surge in people becoming interested in fitness. After all, there’s nothing like watching an elite athlete winning at their sport to make us want to get off our sofa and into the Lycra. Well, okay, not all of us exactly. But if you’re feeling in any way inspired by the games, of course you could head to the gym, swimming pool or athletic track. Even so, did you ever consider that you could just as easily head to the yoga studio? That’s because yoga can seriously help to improve athletic performance and here’s how!

 

Yoga for Runners

Endurance is something that many runners struggle with, especially when it comes to cross-country or long-distances. Holding poses can really challenge your stamina and endurance. On the note of physicality, yoga also helps to increase core strength. A healthy core ensures that the back and body is strong and healthy too. Yoga also stabilizes the muscles that are missed by other workouts, the muscles that are there to protect our joints and spine. This is especially important for the legs, glutes and lower back muscles which are often most impacted by running.

Yoga also supports the body’s recovery whether it be post-run, workout, or injury. That’s because it helps the body to cool down, elongates and stretches muscles, promotes flexibility, and releases lactic acid, aiding muscle recovery, repair, and blood circulation to the muscles. In turn, this decreases soreness, muscle tension and helps by preventing injuries. 

Improving athleticism isn’t just about physical fitness though. Mental aptitude is the key to an athlete’s mindset and focus is something that yoga can build upon. Yoga devotees report that holding poses helps them to tune out other distractions, which is why meditation and yoga often go hand in hand. 

 

Yoga for Cyclists

Cyclists also experience many of the same benefits from yoga as runners do. Something else that’s really helpful to cyclists is that yoga aids balance and posture. Think of all those hair-raisingly sharp corners on The Tour De France. It’s vital to be able maintain your balance and bend easily, to prevent accidents, falls or injuries, whether that be at race level or even just whilst you’re out for a pleasurable cycle ride on country roads.

A cyclist’s posture can be affected because of the time spent hunched over the handlebars. When you do this, it contracts your muscles, leading to muscle tension. Yoga works to counteract these contracted muscle groups by elongating them, especially the long-suffering spine. Legs, glutes, back, arms and shoulders can all suffer a build-up of lactic acid during a fast-paced or long cycle ride, which can be released by a tailored yoga routine.

 

Yoga for Swimmers

Stamina and functional strength are crucial for swimmers. Guess what? In most sports, this is achieved with traditional resistance training and protein shakes. Yoga needs neither, instead it forces your body to hold its body weight in various positions, initiating the stabilising and core muscles and promoting endurance.

There’s also a lot of repetitive action because swimming strokes repeatedly use the same muscle groups. This can lead to muscle fatigue, tightness, soreness, and limited motion especially when muscles are not stretched adequately enough. All too often, other muscles can overcompensate, leading to injury and tension in the surrounding muscles too. A post-workout yoga session to stretch out the muscles is the perfect tonic to a demanding swim!

 

Yoga for Calisthenics

Yoga and calisthenics are similar in the sense that they use large groups of muscles at the same time. Both improve posture, strength, stability, and body composition. The great thing is that you can make a yoga routine way more interesting by combining it with calisthenics and vice versa.

A great way to mix it up is to incorporate calisthenics exercises at the start of a routine for a warm-up and cardio workout. Then, to slow the pace, cool down and facilitate post work-out stretching, you can move into a yoga routine. It’s the perfect, synergistic partnership for all round fitness, flexibility, and stamina.

 

What Equipment Do I Need for Yoga?

Hardly anything at all! The good news is that there’s no expensive equipment or gimmicks needed to get going with yoga.

The only thing you should invest in is a non-slip yoga mat, to prevent slipping and sliding, support your joints and prevent any accidents or injuries. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’d recommend getting your hands on the Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Mat for extreme grip. One you’ve had one of these, you’ll never look back. And who knows where you’ll end up. Word is that Brisbane’s just been selected for the 2032 Olympic Games…..

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