Yoga for Athletes
With health and wellness on the top of everyones mind these days, many of us a very active and pushing our bodies to the limit. Be it by spending more time in the gym, training for a particular team sport or pushing ourselves harder at individual training styles such as crossfit, gymnastics or other functional movement and mobility training. We are all training harder and pushing our bodies more.
With all the training and extra work we are putting in to our health it can sometime be frustrating and confusing when injury occurs or you just reach a plateau in your progression.
THIS IS WHERE YOGA CAN HELP.
The simple science behind it is this, we spent plenty of time putting muscles under stress and tension to encourage them to grow and become stronger. By stressing the muscles our body provide proteins and goodness (yes this is a technical term 😉 ) to the muscles to promote strength growth and development. This is great for the muscles, its not doing our connective tissues many favours. Also worth noting here is that during most muscular strengthening exercise we focus on strengthening at the most powerful point, the mid range of the muscle. This is great for brute power and strength at the muscles strongest point, provides minimal benefit for the muscle at full extension or flexion.
Here is where Yoga can help you…
Love the connective tissues too and reduce injury!
As outlined we spend plenty of time stressing the muscles and providing them with goodness to grow and develop. How often do we spend time giving the connective tissues this attention and opportunity to grow and develop, not as much right?
A quick run down on what the connective tissues are… These are the ligaments, tendons and fascia tissues that connect muscles to muscles, muscle to bone, and bone to bone. They are predominately less elastic then muscles and are made up of similar fibres, mineral and proteins. These tissues are more ridged and therefore react differently to muscles. Muscles react well to rapid and repetitive movements, connective tissues react to steady constant pressure. By applying constant pressure to these connective tissues we place them under stress and tension. This encourages the body to provide the nutrients for healing to be supplied to the connective tissues and therefore strengthening and developing these tissues.
Strength at Length
One of the other aspect to be considered is that when we generally exercise we are strengthen our muscles within the power range. This range is around the middle 60% of the muscles full range of motion. Wether we are running, lifting weights or doing body weight exercises we often focus on the middle section of the muscles to perform the movement. For example take a bicep curl, most of the time you see people do this activity they move there through only the middle 60% of the arms full extension to flexion range. Therefore they are strengthening the muscle at the middle 60% range of the muscle.
This works well for focusing on the power and strength of our muscles as this is the strongest section of our muscles. The concern with this is that the muscles then have weaker links at full extension or flexion. Yoga give you the opportunity to create strength at length. In yoga we activate muscles at full extension and flexion to place them under stress and moving through the full range of the muscle. This providing 100% of the muscle the the stresses required to encourage the body to provide nutrients required to grow and strengthen.
So by adding Yoga to your training routine, even if its 15mins a day, you will enable you body to function at a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness. Yoga will help your recovery as it can be an active recovery session at which you move most of the muscles and free up any tightness.
Get amongst it and give your body the opportunity to improve and grow to new levels, taking your fitness to new levels too.