Some of the best athletes in the world, like LeBron James and Ray Lewis, credit yoga for helping them stay sharp mentally and healing injuries. It makes sense, as one of the best ways to treat and prevent athletic injuries is to stay flexible and strengthen the muscles.
If you’re suffering from an athletic injury, obviously you won’t be able to do advance maneuvers such as using an aerial yoga swing or doing hardcore power yoga. But you can still practice yoga to get some benefits for both your mind and body. These are some common injuries, and the best yoga poses that you can use to treat them.
Injury: Rotator Cuff Tear (Shoulders)
Suggested Pose: Cow Face Pose
The rotator cuff is one of the most complex muscle systems, as it consists of four different muscles and they allow the shoulders to rotate.
Cow Face Pose is a perfect stretch for treating this injury, as it stretches out the entire rotator cuff, maximizing your flexibility and reducing your tightness in the area. It will also restore range of motion, which will decrease your chance of re-injuring it.
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Injury: Heel injury
Suggested Pose: Sole Stretch
The most common heel injury is called Plantar Fasciitis, and it happens when the ligament that connects your heel to your toes, the plantar fascia, is inflamed. It can lead to further complications in your feet and knees, so it’s something you should treat right away.
Sole Stretch is one of the best poses for this because it stretches out the tissue on the sole of the foot, giving you back mobility that you lost from the injury. It also stretches out the calf muscle, which is responsible for supporting the arch of the foot. The main way to prevent this injury is to release tension by stretching all of the muscle around the ligament, and Sole Stretch does just that.
Injury: Lower Back Strain
Suggested Pose: Triangle Pose
Lower back injuries are some of the most common and a lot of them are due to people having weak and tight lower back muscles. Sitting all day, poor posture, and sleeping wrong all cause this.
Triangle pose does a lot to correct lower back pain. It’s great for elongating the muscles on the side of your torso, giving you more range of movement and reducing tightness in those areas. It also strengthens your lower back and legs, which will help you prevent this injury from coming back again.
Injury: Hip Pain
Suggested Pose: Half-pigeon Pose
If you have any hip pain, the best thing you can do for it is to open up your hips in all directions. The Half-pigeon pose does just that, as it is one of the most popular yoga poses for stretching out hip rotators and flexors. Be sure to start slow, as it a somewhat advanced pose that requires decent flexibility in the glutes and upper hamstrings. But it can be extremely effective in giving you more flexibility and reducing tightness in your hips.
Injury: Hamstring Pull
Suggested Pose: Supine Leg Stretch
Pulling or tearing your hamstring mostly occurs when the hamstring is tightly wound and you do a sudden burst of movement. This is common in explosive sports like sprinting or basketball.
Usually, the tear happens around the middle of the hamstring. The best stretch you can do for reducing tightness in this area is the Supine Leg Stretch, as you can really adjust how far you want to stretch it. This is perfect if you have an injured hamstring because you don’t want to push it too far. Reducing tightness, what caused your injury in the first place, is the best way to treat it and prevent it from recurring.
Good luck using yoga to help restore your body to its best possible condition! And if you have an ailment that is not listed, such as elbow concerns, you may want to to consider picking up an elbow brace strap to wear while performing these activities.
Dustin Holta is a freelance writer based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico.