Yoga For Endurance Athletes & Triathletes
Endurance athletes and triathletes share a similar challenge, they commonly suffer from a comprehensive training schedule. Something I am oh so familiar with given Wave Sport and Fitness operates around a real world triathlete with a busy training routine filled with a mix of swimming, cycling and running. Consequently, finding space for another workout might initially seem like a bad idea, especially if your training diary is already full. So instead of adding more, perhaps consider replacing a training session with a workout that improves mobility and builds strength at the same time, such as Wave Yoga.
The core is important for building the stability, balance and power needed in endurance sports. So it should come as no surprise that the exercise which works your core the hardest can be beneficial to your overall fitness. It’s well documented the cross-fit fraternity have been adopting yoga more and more into their training plans. So If it’s good enough for arguably the fittest athletes on the planet, then surely it’s good enough for other endurance athletes and triathletes too? Adding yoga into your existing training plan can be an excellent way to improve and develop weaknesses without overloading the body.
We have some tried and tested Yoga tips to share for endurance athletes, Phil can testify to how they have helped him take his training to the next level and help him avoid injury.
HOW WILL YOGA BENEFIT YOU?
Long hours spent in the saddle of a bike can result in endurance athletes developing muscular imbalances. It’s the imbalances during long training sessions which often lead to injury almost like repetitive strain injury.
Incorporating yoga, like Vinyasa yoga or Hatha yoga can potentially help reduce and improve imbalances over time. Most injuries in triathlons come about because of muscular overuse and imbalance. In our opinion, yoga is a great way for endurance athletes to improve their strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Disciplines like cycling and running can certainly help to develop strong hamstring and quadriceps muscles, but more often than not, the supporting muscles of the hips and back are often neglected. Developing these muscle groups and improving flexibility with yoga is one way to not only correct weaknesses to improve performance, but also steer you away from unnecessary injury as the time and distance starts to ramp up.
The combination of a sedentary job and spending hours on a bike or on your feet can lead to problems like shortening of the “psoas major” – This can directly impact stride length in running.
One of the benefits of yoga is that you never stretch one muscle in an isolated position.
You can reduce potential injury problems from tight muscles and prolonged training by stretching the whole fascia chain when you exercise. When practicing yoga properly, when you stretch the front side of the body, you will simultaneously strengthen the back and core. Who doesn’t want that?
”One of the main reasons to incorporate yoga into your training routine will be the ability to lengthen muscles that would typically be contracted during endurance training disciplines while also strengthening the sometimes overlooked muscle groups.”
WHEN TO INCORPORATE YOGA INTO YOUR ROUTINE?
If you have a really busy weekly training schedule, try and avoid adding in more workouts. That can lead to overtraining. Instead try different types of yoga workouts depending on where you are in your season:
The offseason, when the goal of your training will be to build aerobic capacity and improve muscular endurance.
Possibly the ideal time to work on imbalances and challenge yourself with your yoga routine.
Adding a guided yoga lesson into your weekly routine coupled with a couple of shorter flows to compliment warm ups and warm downs before and after a bike session or run could be just right for you.
Towards the end of pre-season we suggest you can do two yoga sessions per week, that said try to avoid putting too much stress on your body. If for any reason you notice it’s affecting your rest periods negatively, then dial it back.
It may be better to consider restorative yoga, it can take a few seasons for your body to fully acclimatise and build sufficient strength to manage your routine.
The part of the season where you may be competing, that’s why we encourage you to focus on “restorative yoga”, which can boost your recovery.
A dedicated yoga practice will help you become more in tune with your body, breathing and those times when you might be pushing yourself hard.
7 YOGA EXERCISES TO GET STARTED
Whether you’re new to yoga or have practiced it in the past, there are yoga poses Wave Sport and Fitness would recommend, which can potentially help combat some of the problematic areas common for most endurance athletes.
YouTube Yoga has become really popular since Lockdown 2020, so here are seven yoga poses to try. Massive shout out to Wave Yoga and Kerry Miller, the following poses could help you get stronger, improve your flexibility, and become a better all-around athlete:
Helps to build strength in the glutes and hamstrings while stretching the hip flexors, abs, and chest. Cycling tightness meet your nemisis.
This will stretch the hip flexor, outer hips, groin, inner thighs and knees, whilst strengthening your back muscles which can help to improve posture.
Stretches the hips and chest and can improve rotation of the spine to help your swimming.
Stretches the hip flexor, gluteals, piriformis, IT band, back and outer hips whilst improving mobility.
A great way to stretch and strengthen the anterior and posterior chain.
Strengthens and stretches the hips flexors, quadriceps, calves and ankles.
Strengthens the hips and core whilst stretching the hamstrings.
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