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How Yoga Can Help Recovery

By Jason Papalio, 10/19/15, 4:30AM EDT



Athletes abuse and beat up their bodies daily in the pursuit of athletic excellence. Unfortunately, most athletes do not know the secrets of taking care of their bodies. Athletes should implement a sport specific approach to athletic recovery, so they can perform at more consistent levels, reach their maximum potential, improve mental focus, etc. Incorporating yoga into your training regiment can reduce the risk of injury and condition your body to better perform at things you have to do every day as an athlete: run, jump, twist, stop and go, bend, lift, etc. The goal of a basketball specific recovery and regeneration program is to dissipate fatigue and elevate the athlete’s level of preparedness, which will ultimately improve performance.

The benefits of yoga for basketball players are enormous. Studies tell us the more open the hips are the less susceptible athletes are to injuring their knees. Deliberate time spent on yoga and meditation, improved all other recovery factors such as improved sleep. A common myth in strength and performance training is you should keep loading the body and adding weight to an exercise. Movement prep and efficiency should come first before adding weight, to increase the intensity of the workout. Throughout a yoga session, you can create an unstable environment that will help challenge the athlete and keep the kinetic chain firing on all cylinders. Yoga prepares their system for all variables and situations they might see when performing and mastering their craft.

When you trying to stay in front of a shifty defender who is looking to drive to the basket, you need to be able to change direction in a fraction of a second, yoga can help you do this by improving mobility. If a muscle is so tight that an injury becomes imminent, your body will start to recruit other muscles to help out with certain movement patterns. If those specific muscles and muscle groups are untrained, you are looking at a torn muscle and some down time on the trainer's table. Once things start to get tight, that is when things lock down: your back and knees start to hurt, etc. By keeping everything loose, you are able to function at your highest level. Basketball creates asymmetries because of the continuous repetitive movement of the sport. It’s an athlete’s job to recognize these imbalances before they become an injury.

Basketball recovery can typically mean a lighter workout on an off day. These low-key days are a perfect way to slide yoga seamlessly into your schedule. You don’t need more training! You need more recovery! Most athletes are not adequately recovering. You must find a way to add more recovery into your training! You need to recover not just from the prior workout but rather a combination of the weeks prior. If recovery is not allowed to occur, then performance will stagnate or even decline over time. Every training program needs to allow some time for growth to occur before you stress the body again. You cannot keep accumulating damaged tissues without degrading your performance. One-hour basketball recovery sessions allowed athletes to return to their previous peak power output, maximal heart rates and maximal lactate concentrations.

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x Jason Papalio

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