You don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits of a good yoga practice. In fact, many of the people who benefit most from yoga are actually more into other high-impact sports—and yoga becomes their way to prevent injury and perform better.
With all the stretching, strengthening, and alignment work in yoga, it’s a fantastic way for athletes to address specific parts of the body that are prone to injury in their sport. Toss out that Tylenol, because yoga is one of the best preventative health measures around! From the tee to the pool, and the court to the trails, we’re covering some of the best yoga poses to counter common injuries or tensions associated with your sport. Bay Club Carmel Valley yoga instructor, Stacy McCarthy, shares her tips with us on the perfect yoga poses to prevent injuries and perform better.
Tennis players can experience a whole range of upper body issues. Since a strong game relies on quick reflexes and lots of movement in the arms, chest and shoulders, most tennis players know they’re prone to elbow and shoulder pain. But another issue many tennis players face is lower back pain, as many “close calls” require getting low and popping up quickly.
The Best Pose: Twisting Uttanasa
Uttanasa means “standing forward fold.” But if you bring a twist (and a healthy, joint-protecting knee bend) into this pose, it becomes a way to stretch the lower back. Plus, when you extend your arms to the side you’re twisting, it turns into a heart-opener for those tight arms and chest.
Pro Tip: After breathing into the arm extension, try wrapping your top arm around your back and hooking it into your hip crease (as pictured). This amplifies the stretch in the shoulder and chest.
Running is fantastic cardio, but it’s also one of the toughest activities on your joints. Common issues for runners include tight hamstrings, stiff or tender knees, and sore hips.
The Best Pose: Twisting Seated Lotus
Seated lotus is a great, simple pose for getting into tight and tired hips. As an added bonus, it won’t put any strain on your knees. Twisting from the left and right also helps release hip tension.
Pro Tip: Grab a block, bloster, or blanket to get your hips above your knees. This will relieve any tension in tight joints, and you’ll feel a natural stretch along your adductor and abductor muscle groups.
While swimming is one of the best exercises for a low-impact workout, it’s not without its own set of injuries. While different strokes rely on muscle work from different parts of the body, shoulder pain and rotator cuff issues are often brought on by overuse.
The Best Pose: Garudasana Arms (Eagle pose)
This pose helps increase shoulder mobility and relieves tension from joints in your shoulder and upper back. Of course, you’ll get the most out of this pose by practicing it as prevention to injury, rather than waiting until you have serious rotator cuff issues (in which case, you will want to modify accordingly).
Pro Tip: If you have very tight shoulders or sensitive rotator cuffs, you don’t have to make your hands meet in their bind. You can release your hands and simply bring them to the opposite shoulders.
As is the case with swimming, golf is considered a great lifetime sport because it is gentle on joints and ligaments—plus, it’s a social sport! But many golfers experience wrist complications, or even full-blown tendonitis, so showing your wrists a little extra TLC will go a long way toward preventing carpal tunnel and the like.
The Best Pose: Gomukhasana (Cow face pose)
We’ve demonstrated this in a seated pose, but you can also do this pose in standing position. By trying to connect your hands behind your back, with one arm extended over your head (reaching down) and the other extended around your side (reaching up), you’ll create a natural pull on your wrists, helping to release pinched nerves and built-up tension.
Pro Tip: If you can’t clasp your hands behind our back, don’t force it. Use a strap for this pose! It will make the world of difference. Clasp one end of the strap in one hand and the other end of the strap in your opposing hand. Let the pull of the strap create that natural resistance to stretch out your wrists.
If you’re looking for a yoga class to help you balance your performance training or to help you recover from a sports injury, our clubs offer a host of different classes for all levels. Our experienced instructors are always happy to help you find the most beneficial poses for your physical needs. Follow along with us on Instagram as we release more content!