YOGA FOR HOCKEY – As many athletes are starting to build their off season training plan, try adding a few of these simple yoga postures to your regular routine or cool-down. These asanas are intended to promote strength, flexibility and breath control, to make getting the puck down the ice a breeze. Hold each pose for five full breathes to build strength, flexibility and focus.
Fifteen years ago, I was not acting my age. Since I would recoil from any form of exercise, as well as any green foods, I was overweight, inflexible … and debilitated by back pain. The 40 extra pounds on my frame — plus tight, shortened back muscles and weak abs — left me moving like an 80-year-old version of myself.
I suffered daily from sciatica, back spasms, limited mobility, weakness, you name it. When I got stuck in my car one day, unable to swing my legs out of the car because of my sciatic pain, at age 23, I realized, “Something’s gotta change.” I started reading up and realized a shocking number of people suffer with chronic back pain, partly from hours of sitting in a way that flattens the low back curve.
Then, I found yoga. Over time, using some of the same poses I’m showing you here, I built a lean and pain-free body.
With just a few moves, you can bring your legs, hips and spine into proper alignment, release tension and gain supportive strength. These asanas provide traction for your spinal muscles as you root through the hips and let a gentle pull or gravity make space between the spinal bones. You’ll walk taller and enjoy a body that’s no longer stopping you, but rather serving you to live, move and play to the fullest.
Yoga and sports is becoming an increasingly popular topic for many reasons. Traditional training methods primarily focus on the contraction of muscles. While this is essential for muscle growth and athletic development, it does not contribute to increasing range of motion, mobility, or flexibility. With very structured strength and conditioning programs and the need for ample practice, it is difficult to dedicate enough time to stretching and developing core strength. Keeping our bodies tuned for success keeps us motivated and wills us to stay consistent with our training. However, injuries can occur from overuse, lack of stretching, insufficient warm up, and decreased range of motion. Static stretching has been a staple during warm up for many years. However, its effectiveness has come into question and many athletes have found much more success in the integration of regular stretching exercises, such as Yoga. Even though this may seem like a new and unconventional form of training, Yoga has been practiced for more than 5000 years, but it is has only recently gained more popularity in the sports world.
Ryan Giggs talks about the influence that Yoga has had in his career. He credits Yoga for how well his body has been able to hold up the last 7 years. Without it, Giggs would be a retired footballer. 3 reasons why Yoga is important for Soccer.
Benefits of Yoga for Athletes:
1) Increase Core Strength Yoga poses are all about building core strength. The slow, focused movements require a strong mid-section and the isometric contractions of many exercises will add a new form of resistance training to your typical machine-based workouts. For any athlete, the core is the most important muscle to stay strong, it allows your upper body to move cohesively with your lower body. Your lower body can’t work properly with a weak core and vice versa, your upper body can’t function properly without a strong core. That’s why soccer players are known for their abs because it’s the sport where you need to utilize every part of your body, with yoga, your core strength will reach a new level of strength.
2) Increase Flexibility and Range of Motion Yoga routines incorporate slow, steady flexibility exercise that is ideal for athletes. Frequent yoga training will increase flexibility, and range of motion while relieving muscle tension. Whether you’re goalie or striker, improved range of motion will help improve performance. With an increase in flexibility and range of motion, your chances of getting injured decreases as mentioned by Giggs.
3) Improve Balance Yoga is a perfect way to incorporate balance exercises into your training routine. Balance exercises are often overlooked by athletes, but are one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance or body mechanic problems. With most sports and weight training routines you tend to perform repetitive motions that develop some muscle groups while others are ignored. Yoga can fix these imbalances. Especially after an injury whether it be surgical or not, your body will develop some imbalances and yoga will help you level back out whatever imbalances you have.
If you can find a yoga class near you, I recommend doing it at least once a week.
BY RICH ROLL
MAY 14, 2012 8:40 PM EDT