We do long bike rides over hilly terrain, log mile after mile running, and supplement those workouts with additional strength training sessions in the gym.
You would assume that all of this strengthens every muscle fiber in out body, but ... that’s not the case.
Supporting muscles in the back, core and upper body are often underdeveloped in endurance athletes, and — even worse — the cycling and running workouts themselves may result in chronic pain or injuries resulting from tight hip flexor muscles, inflexible hamstrings and hyperextension in the lower back.
Patty Browning, a San Angelo yoga instructor and former Army drill instructor, suggests that yoga sessions can help alleviate these problems and even help improve your functional strength and endurance.
“Athletes should attempt to diversify their training to avoid overworking the same major muscle groups or ignoring stabilizing muscles like those in the ankles, hips and groin,” says Browning.”
Adding a regular yoga practice to an athlete’s training regimen may increase athletic gains.”
“The stretching and breathing of a mindful yoga practice elongates shortened, contracted muscle tissue which increases the muscle’s range of motion. Yoga helps lengthen muscle fibers by focusing on the entire range of motion.”
“It is the eccentric portion of the muscle movement (lengthening against resistance) that stimulates the greatest muscle growth and increases strength. Additionally, the increased flexibility gained from yoga sessions may also help prevent more serious injuries when riders and runners experience falls.”
Browning also notes that yoga practitioners learn to be mindful (acutely aware) of their various body systems through asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breath control) practice.
Although yoga sessions can vary from relaxing restorative workouts to harder flexibility and strength efforts, Browning says that most of them follow a common pattern.
“We begin with a quieting of the mind through deep breathing, then perform movements that warm up the spine and joints slowly and deliberately,” she said.
“After the warm up, we begin to raise the heart rate and generating heat in the muscles through a series of standing postures linked by the breath (Sun Salutations) and then progress through all or some of the following poses: standing, balancing, core-centric, arm-balances, seated postures, twists, backbends, inversions, reclined postures, cool down and savasana (corpse pose) at the conclusion of the session.”
One common question from athletes is how and when to fit yoga sessions into a busy week that might include cycling, running and strength workouts.
“Yoga can be tacked onto any of the days mentioned above,” says Browning. “It is a very good active recovery exercise and as little as 15-30 minutes following a workout session can prove very beneficial to the athlete. However, yoga should not be performed before a hard activity where power/strength is required.”
In addition to the yoga classes that Browning teaches professionally, she also conducts twice-weekly free yoga sessions for the San Angelo Team Red WhiteBlue chapter. Those yoga sessions are open to the public.
The locations and times for her classes are posted on her website at anjaliyoganow.com or you can visit the San Angelo Team RWB Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/TeamRWBSanAngelo.
Want to know more about yoga and the potential benefits for you? Check out the links below or attend one of the free Team RWB yoga sessions for a “test run”.
- Yoga for cyclists — http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/yoga-for-cyclists
- Yoga for runners — runnersworld.com/tag/yoga
- A short 10-minute yoga for athletes video — prana.com/life/2013/07/18/sage-rountree-yoga-for-cyclists/
Upcoming EventsApril 12: Moon Pie night trail run, roadlizards.org
April 13: 9-mile mountain bike time trial, angelobike.org/events/mtb-time-trial-9-mile/
April 24: Mountain bike TT Series, angelobike.org
April 26: Lone Wolf Run, roadlizards.org
April 26: Colorado River Bikefest, ballingernoonlions.org
May 16: Relay for Life, relayforlife.org