Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Flexibility is often one of the most overlooked components of any fitness or training program, but when it comes to triathletes and multisport athletes in particular, flexibility training (specifically yoga) goes far beyond just flexibility. Here are 6 reasons every athlete should make yoga a non-negotiable part of their regular training routine.
1. Injury Prevention
When the body is imbalanced, it will often compensate for that imbalance in another area of the body, creating parts of the body that are out of alignment. When these alignment issues are neglected, it leads to greater alignment issues (and often injury), because the body is constantly under training pressure and continuing to compensate over time. Yoga provides focused training on balance, strength, and awareness that helps combat alignment issues in the body lowering the likelihood of performance and training-induced injury.
2. Mental Endurance
I think every athlete can attest to being victimized by their mind in some way, shape or form on race day - questioning why they even signed up, and battling back and forth with themselves about quitting before they reach the finish line when the physical pain becomes virtually unbearable. Yoga is a lot about the discipline around learning to be present and giving your focus to the thoughts that are worth our attention. The negative dialogue that can emerge during a race can often magnify the physical challenges making it harder to confidently press on. Practicing yoga diligently can be the secret weapon to helping you learn to quiet your mind and save your energy for where it's most useful.
3. Restoration and Recovery
Multisport training is extensive, rigorous, and puts a lot of stress on the body and sympathetic nervous system. To compliment endurance training, it's important to also provide relaxation and recovery to the body. Yoga involves a number of components that help reduce stress, engage the parasympathetic nervous system and promote relaxation: stretching, breathing, mindfulness and silence. This often also leads to better quality sleep and faster recovery, both extremely beneficial to multisport athletes.
4. Breath Awareness & Control
They say that when you've lost your breath in yoga, you've also lost your yoga practice. Breath control and awareness is one of the highest priorities while performing yoga. How is this relevant to multisport? Think about how important breath is during swimming, running, and biking. In addition to oxygenating the blood and body, proper use and control of your breath can help you both power through a movement and/or conserve energy. Yoga is the perfect activity to help you develop and practice this skill in a very targeted way.
Not every athlete is into lifting weights, but strength training is still a very beneficial and important component of training for a multisport athlete. Yoga is unique in that it provides strength training through bodyweight movements and poses. Additionally, the lower back, hamstrings, core and hips can tend to be problematic areas for many multisport athletes. Yoga specifically involves the flexibility and strengthening of these particular areas of the body in many of its poses and movements.
6. Body Awareness & Balance
Yoga, like the disciplines of triathlon, often involves contralateral movement (opposite arm/opposite leg movement). Whereas swimming and running involve quick motion, yoga moves through a slower, highly intentional series of poses. These slower movements can help you get in tune with your body, define areas of weakness, and develop balance between both sides of your body. The small positive changes you develop over time can make a huge difference in your performance and power during multisport events.
We hope these 6 points help motivate you to start incorporating yoga into your multisport training routine, if you haven't already yet.
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