Benefits of Yoga for the Athlete

As the winter is coming to Texas, our love of sports does not stop. But have you thought about how adding yoga may help your other athletic activities either in the off season or through the cold winter months?

 As winter comes, our love of sports doesn’t stop!

As winter comes, our love of sports doesn’t stop!

Yoga is a great complement to your fun athletic activities and can help you stay flexible and build strength to avoid injuries.  Whether it is tennis, cycling, pickleball, golf or softball improving your strength, flexibility, balance and focus can make your time on the courts, field or road safer for your body and more enjoyable because of your increased performance. It is also a great complement to help “destress” your body.  

Strength

One of the major benefits of a regular yoga practice is improved strength and endurance.  “It can help strengthen the places that get too weak when we spend too much time on one sport and have overuse injuries or actually under development and tightness in areas..  

Areas like the shoulder, back, core, and upper body can often be subject to over use injuries for the avid racket sport player or golfer.  Or can be underdeveloped in cyclists making them prone to stiffness or injury after rides.  Or can become stressed for an individual who does not work those areas much in the off season for games such as softball.    Weaknesses in some of the stabilizing muscles like those in the ankles, hips and groin that are very important can also cause an injury.

Flexibility

My husband Phil Wismer plays just about any sport and works out regularly.  I often hear him called “Speedy Gonzales” on the softball field for his fast running.  Over the past few years, Phil has become a true believer in the benefits of yoga for his performance.  He often tells me, and I can see it with my own eyes, how his yoga practice has increased his flexibility, strength and balance. The Motrin pain reliever no longer comes out of the medicine cabinet after a hard work out, or game.

Focus & Stress Relief

Some of the non-physical aspects of yoga, such as mental focus and breathing, can be just as important.  From doing yoga, your body is used to being stressed but remaining calm. Holding these poses is just like sprinting to the line or climbing a big hill.  It requires that focus, that endurance, and that understanding that you might feel like you’re going to lose it, but if you can hold it a little longer you can reap some benefits, whether it’s winning a tennis match or dealing with the stresses in your everyday life.

Balance and Injury Prevention

Injuries often plague older individuals and often are a result of some sort of imbalance. For example, weak backs, and sometimes weak cores as well can result in overuse injuries in the stronger parts of the body that are picking up the slack.

I use to suffer from nagging pains in my knees and hips and lower back regularly.  However, when I am diligent with my own regular yoga practice, my entire body feels better and stronger. Not only can yoga help prevent overuse injuries, but it can help prevent or minimize the impact or reduce the chance of a fall from balance problems.

How to Get Started? 

First find a class that is right for you.  You need to feel comfortable with both the class and the instructor.  

After the new year, I will be starting an 8 week class designed for our athletic crowd at Robson Ranch.  It will focus on strength, balance and flexibility to prevent common upper body and lower body injuries. More to come on that class soon.   It will be a good intro class for anyone wanting to build their strength, balance and flexibility involved in athletic activities at Robson.

Remember to be patient with yourself...there is a learning curve.  My husband Phil says, the stereotype that yoga is just for girls who want to stretch...needs to be wiped away.  It’s one of the harder workouts that he does.  You get out what you put in.  You’re going to get stronger, you’re going to go faster, and you’re going to be more flexible.   But most importantly,is going in with an open mind and have fun.