Practicing yoga to avoid injuries in your sport
Yoga is a specialty that hooks more people every day thanks to its benefits applied to health and physical and mental well-being, something that has not gone unnoticed by many elite athletes, who have included yoga in their training mainly to avoid injuries and increase your athletic performance. This is the case of athletes such as María Sharápova, LeBron James or Ryan Giggs, who managed to extend their football career at Manchester United until he was 40 years old.
But the practice of yoga is not limited to elite athletes, because more and more gyms are offering yoga classes and the opening of new centers dedicated exclusively to yoga continues to increase in all cities of the country.
But now, why is yoga the ideal complement to avoid injuries? According to the opinion of different teachers, it can provide multiple benefits that perfectly match the demands of a life dedicated to sport. We explain below what they are:
Reduces muscle imbalances
The vast majority of sports tend to have repetitive movements that cause a muscular imbalance, mainly in the legs, arms or trunk depending on the sport. These imbalances between the main and auxiliary muscles tend to cause long-term injuries to the musculoskeletal system, which affect the performance of the athlete, producing pain and injuries. For example, in soccer there is a great imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings (anterior and posterior thigh muscles); or in the case of long-distance runners, the adductors are usually shortened and the glutes and hamstrings are usually elongated.
In this case, yoga is once again one of the best solutions to avoid muscle imbalances, since its postures manage to mobilize, extend and strengthen different muscle groups equally with the same posture. Without going any further, the “triangle posture” works up to 13 different muscles, such as the psoas, iliac, pyramidal, gluteal, hamstring, sartorius, biceps femoris or adductors among others.
One of the main benefits of yoga asanas is the increased flexibility of both the muscles and the joints. There is no doubt that in any sport flexibility is a very important quality to avoid injuries in any forced movement, whether it is a ball court in a soccer game, a difficult ball in tennis or a karateka’s leg raise. The more flexibility our muscles and joints have, the greater the joint range of motion and the less energy used to perform each action.
It reduces stress
Yoga and meditation have been shown to reduce stress, because they directly influence brain and genetic activity, but they also produce a reduction in proteins responsible for inflammation of the immune system. It is normal for people who compete on a regular basis to experience stressful situations due to the pressure they are subjected to in the weeks leading up to competition and during training. Practicing between 12 and 20 minutes a day of yoga is enough to control stress levels according to a study from the University of California.
Although many people think that yoga can only increase flexibility, it also helps increase muscle strength among those who practice it. In fact, the results of the study from the University of California state that taking 2 classes a week for 2 months leads to up to a 31% increase in muscle strength in the arms and legs. For an athlete, muscular strength is essential, but if the strength of different muscle areas can also be worked with the same exercise, this helps them to be more balanced and reduce the risk of injury.
Increases balance and coordination
In the vast majority of sports, having better balance and coordination is essential to be more effective and efficient when performing any movement. Yoga postures help to have awareness throughout the body and balance is the basis of each of them, in such a way that the body compensates itself to be able to perform them.