Yoga for Athletes: There’s a Pose for That!


By Kelle Walsh |

Running

Target Area: 

Hamstrings

Weak and tight hamstrings are common among runners, who often rely on their quads to power themselves forward. (The same is often true for cyclists.) This pose focuses on the adductor magnus, the most powerful adductor muscle, to alleviate tightness, prevent hamstring injuries, and make it easier to activate the glutes.

Postworkout or during recovery.

  1. Bend and stretch your legs a few times, and press down evenly through the bottoms of your feet to gently deepen the stretch. Then be still, and hold for five breaths.

Note: You can also perform this pose with feet turned inward about 30 degrees, internally rotating at the hips to deepen the stretch.

Strength Training

Target Area: Legs

Due to thicker fascia in the lower body, not to mention bigger muscles and bones, the legs need more attention in preparation for and to recover from moves like squats and deadlifts. This pose will hit the quads, groin, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and IT band.

 As part of your warm-up and cool-down, or any time on rest days.

  1. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Basketball

Target Area: Glutes and hips

Athletes who rely on fast-twitch muscle action (think short, explosive movements) worry about losing power by overstretching. But when connective tissue is tight and dry, those muscles suffer. When your fast-twitch muscles aren’t getting proper circulation, you lose some of your explosive potential. This post-workout move improves blood flow to these areas.

Postworkout or during recovery.

  1. Repeat on the other side.

Cycling

Target Area: Chest

Sitting, especially for long periods, can have deleterious consequences on posture — whether you’re hunched over in your office chair or in the saddle of your road or stationary bike. Over time, this position can cause tightness and foreshortening of the chest muscles, making it hard to engage the core and potentially causing back and neck pain. This move will help open up the chest and counteract tightness.

Postworkout or during recovery.

  1. Looking straight ahead, keep your face and neck relaxed, and hold for five to eight breaths.

Tennis

Target Area: Shoulders 

Serving a ball places tremendous force on the area where the four muscles of your rotator cuff connect your arm to your shoulder blade. The best way to avoid injury to this area is to learn to coordinate the movement of your shoulder blade and upper arm’s ball-and-socket joint. This stretch will also help.

Postworkout or during recovery.

  1. Hold for up to eight breaths, and then switch sides.

Swimming

Target Area: Chest and shoulders

Swim strokes primarily rely on strength, mobility, and power in the upper body. These muscles tend to be smaller than lower-body muscles and often need additional TLC to work well and feel good.

Postworkout or during recovery.

  1. Keep your head in a neutral position by gazing at the point where the wall and floor meet, and hold for five to eight breaths.

This originally appeared in “” in the May 2017 issue of Experience Life.

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