What do Andy Murray, the New Zealand All Blacks, and Paula Radcliffe all have in common? They are all top athletes who practice yoga to help them stay in peak physical condition. But, why is yoga so beneficial for athletes? Read on to find out more…..
Three of the most obvious benefits of yoga are relaxation, increased flexibility and breath control. Being supple as well as strong, the ability to stay cool under pressure and the ability to regulate your breath are key for any athlete. However, there are a whole host of more subtle benefits that come from a regular yoga practice which lead to an enhanced sense of body awareness. The benefits include improved coordination, balance and proprioception (our sense of where we are in space).
Athletes, of any level, need to prevent and recover from injury and enhanced body awareness is the foundation for this.
In terms of injury prevention an athlete with enhanced body awareness is more likely to move smoothly and in harmony with their own biomechanics therefore reducing the risk of overuse injuries. If a niggle starts to develop during training it’s often very tempting to try and push through but they are able to stop, assess and adjust to avoid it developing into something major. Good balance and reflexes reduce the risk of trips and give a better chance of self-righting if you do start to fall.
But what happens if the worst comes to the worst and you develop an injury? Yoga can still help with that! The key for effective rehab is rest in the very early stages and then (and this is the tricky part) enough movement to help the tissue fibres heal correctly but not so much as to re-injure them. Yoga can provide safe and low impact cross training during recovery, plus the enhanced body awareness can help the athlete better sense how much movement / pressure their injury can safely take during the rehab process.
So if you’re an athlete of any level why not give yoga a try? You might be surprised by the results.
If you have an injury that is bothering you then I offer tailored yoga rehab and sports massage combi packages to get you back to peak condition as quickly as possible. I also offer yoga rehab workshops for sports clubs. Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.