5 Best Yoga Poses Athletes Should Practice to Help Prevent Injuries

Among all the sports ailments out there, sprains and strains rank as the top injuries in the United States. Although there’s always a possibility an injury can occur (especially for athletes), there are surefire ways
—such as these 5 best yoga poses—to lessen your chances of having to ride the sidelines of your fitness routine.

Beyond solid warmups, yoga is a powerful tool for injury prevention in athletes and bodybuilders alike. Not only can it improve flexibility, strength, balance, and mobility (all crucial for warding off injuries), it has been shown to increase athletic performance overall.

And when practiced regularly, yoga can reduce inflammation and even speed up post-injury recovery by improving blood flow.

“Yoga is especially helpful for athletes prone to injury and strain as it gives them a way to stay fit and ease back into their active lifestyles without overextending their bodies,” shares Sonya Stoeckert, certified personal trainer and yoga instructor with 12 plus years of physical therapy and personal training experience. (Who was recently nominated as North Port Florida’s number-one personal trainer.)

“Yoga and breathwork have been found to relieve anxiety, decrease stress, improve heart health, and reduce chronic pain,” she adds, leading us down the path of injury prevention (and relaxation) through these five yoga poses.

What you’ll need to get started: A yoga mat or blanket and clothing that moves with your body and your breath.

 

The Five Best Yoga Poses To Help Prevent Injuries

Michelle Johnson Doing A Pigeon Pose
Edgar Artiga

Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

What it Works: The pigeon pose works the muscles of the groin, back, thigh, and piriformis. It also works the psoas muscle, which is a deep hip flexor.

How To:

  1. Prone pigeon, bring one shin forward across the top of your mat and extend the other leg back behind you.
  2. Your hips should be square and you should be able to see your front knee on the outside of your side body.
  3. Start on the palms and to deepen the stretch come down to the forearms and then relax all the way down with your head resting on the mat.
Yoga locust pose
fizkes / Getty

Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

What It Strengthens: The Locust Pose strengthens the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

How To:

  1. Bring your feet hip-width apart and press back firmly through the balls of your feet.
  2. Engage your abs to protect your lower back and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
  3. Keep your neck long.
Michelle Johnson Doing A Bridge Pose
Edgar Artiga

Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

What It Strengthens: The bridge pose strengthens the glutes and hamstrings and opens up the hip flexors.

How To:

  1. Place your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointing straight ahead.
  2. Align your ankles under your knees and keep your thighs parallel.
  3. Be careful not to lift your hips too high and compress your lower back.
Fit woman performing yoga in a chair pose
Jay Sullivan

Chair pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

What It Strengthens: The chair pose strengthens the calves, knees, quads, and glutes.

How To:

  1. Bring your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing straight ahead.
  2. Inhale, sweep your arms straight up by your ears.
  3. Exhale, drop your hips and draw your rib cage in to avoid compressing your lower back.
Man yoga 1 1109
FatCamera / Getty

Low Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)

What It Strengthens: Low Plank Pose activates core strength and back muscles, quadriceps, and spinal muscles and engages the triceps and biceps, wrists, and pectoral muscles. This beneficial pose also engages the shoulder and upper back, including the serratus anterior and posterior and the trapezius and rhomboids.

How To:

  1. Start in a plank position.
  2. Make sure your hands are shoulder-distance apart and your hands are stacked over your wrists.
  3. Stack the balls of your feet underneath your heels with your feet hip-distance apart.
  4. Shift forward to the tips of your toes, bringing your shoulders past your wrists.
  5. Bend your elbows and squeeze them into your body, drawing your shoulder blades down your back.
  6. Bring your shoulders in line with your elbows.
  7. Gaze down and keep your neck long.

One Final Tip: When Performing These Best Yoga Poses, Don’t Forget to Breathe

If you catch yourself holding your breath during training, you may find yourself holding it (or not taking deep enough breaths) during these moves. “Focusing consciously on Breath Work during yoga helps by keeping the body and mind in a relaxed and aware state, as well as access the practice’s deeper levels of connection to Mind Body & Soul” explains Stoeckert.

As you move through these poses, focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly with each movement. Adding these moves into your fitness routine is the perfect addition to building a stronger, injury-fighting physique.

 

 

 

 

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