Do you pay attention to the latest training trends? If so, you’ll know at this point that yoga is not considered an esoteric practice. Athletes in professional and collegiate sports do yoga to support mobility and recovery training. Endurance athletes use it to prevent injury and correct imbalances. And weight lifters & functional fitness athletes use it to restore flexibility and recover from their resistance training workouts.
Still – finding the right type of yoga for athletes can be challenging. Wandering into your local studio or just pulling up a random yoga workout on YouTube might not get you the performance-enhancing workout you’re looking for. In short, yoga is great for athletes – but you need to be sure you’re doing the right type of yoga.
In this blog, I cover:
- Common challenges of athletes, gym-goers, and fitness enthusiasts.
- The underlying causes for these challenges.
- How to successfully address these potential problem areas.
- How Man Flow Yoga helps.
Common Challenges of Athletes, Gym-Goers, and Fitness Enthusiasts
- Injury. Injury is the #1 threat when it comes to the fitness of athletes. Injury means we can’t train, can’t compete, and – most importantly – can’t do what we enjoy doing. Injury cannot be avoided altogether, but its likelihood can be dramatically reduced with the right balanced training.
- Soreness / overtraining. Athletes are almost always sore, and this can make training difficult. You might require more time to warm-up, have to take days off to recover, or be careful to modify your training to avoid soft-tissue injuries. But just a little bit of restorative exercise to your routine can significantly reduce soreness.
The Underlying Causes for These Challenges
- Lack of flexibility/mobility training in traditional training. This is perhaps the biggest issue. Most traditional training routines for athletes do not address flexibility. (I speak from experience.) Athletes typically concentrate on strength, speed, endurance, and sport-specific skills, but spend little time improving their flexibility and mobility.
- Sport-specific imbalances. These are caused by the repetitive motions athletes make. For runners, it’s the motion involved in running. For anybody who throws a ball or swings a bat, they’re usually focused on one side more than the other. Whatever it is, repetitive motions can lead to imbalances that can cause injury.
- Too much fast, not enough slow. Most sports or training types involve fast movement, and very few (if any) involve moving slowly. Moving quickly is important, but in order to move fast, you first have to own slow. Not only does this improve your performance, strength, and power, but it also helps to prevent injury from improper movement patterns.
- Athlete mentality. Athletes have a very competitive nature. You always want to push yourself to be the best you can be. If you’re not sweating profusely or constantly out of breath, the workout isn’t tough enough. This is great, because it makes you a better athlete, but neglects the softer side of fitness that helps to improve you in ways that fast-moving exercise can’t.
- Going from a desk to the field. We live in a mostly sedentary world, and this sucks for our bodies. Sitting weakens your hips & core, destroys your posture, and hurts your flexibility. But it doesn’t stop when you stand up. The stress of sitting carries over into your activities, and this increases your risk of injury, necessitates more warm-up time, and requires you to do corrective exercise to undo the stress of being inactive.
How to Successfully Address These Potential Problem Areas
- Discovering & correcting muscular imbalances. In order to fix muscular imbalances, you first must find what they are. After you understand your imbalances, you can start to work on them. Addressing your weak points makes you stronger, improves your performance, and significantly lowers your risk of injury.
- Restorative & recovery-focused workouts. Get back to exercise with less soreness & more energy. Adding restorative stretching to your routines speeds up your recovery, lowers your risk of injury, and allows you to push yourself in your other workouts.
- Slow-moving exercise to correct movement patterns & improve muscle activation. Learn to move better. Only when you move slowly and mindfully can you correct improper movement patterns, understand how to properly “engage” inactive muscles, and improve your overall muscle activation. The result is greater strength, improved performance, and a lower risk of injury.
How MFY helps
- The Strength Foundations Course – this a program I created that allows you to notice your imbalances and correct them. It is also heavily focused on improving muscle activation. This improves your performance, increases your strength and mobility, and makes you better at whatever your physical activity of choice. Minimum 3x per week, 30-40 minute workouts. Minimal equipment.
- Flexibility, Mobility, & Joint Health for Inflexible Beginners – This program was built for the person who neglects flexibility and mobility work, to help you increase your range of motion and force you to spend more time on recovery. You can easily combine this with your existing workout program. Minimum 3 workouts per week.
- MFY “Path” – we’ve created “paths” that make it easy for you to follow a set schedule of workout programs, focused on your specific needs and goals. Our athletes fall neatly into our “Yoga for Athletes” path.