When we think about professional athletes and how they work out, we usually imagine them “pumping iron” or running for miles and miles. But now there’s a new workout that is a favorite among many professional athletes. It’s not CrossFit and it’s not Zumba. It’s yoga!
Blake Griffin, one of the NBA’s rising stars, says that yoga makes him better at basketball. “My biggest problem is being tight—I have tight quads, tight calves, hip flexors, all that,” Griffin says. “Once things start to get tight, that’s when things lock down, and my back starts to hurt, my knee starts to hurt. So keeping everything loose helps me function at my highest level.”
Mike Kryzyzewski, better known as Coach K, of the Duke Blue Devil’s basketball team, does yoga to keep himself calm on the sidelines.
Basketball isn’t the only sport that can use yoga as a training tool. Victor Cruz, the wide receiver for the New York Giants, also does yoga. He says that yoga gives him flexible ankles and helps relieve his foot pain.
Why does yoga help them all so much? Different poses like Tree Pose, where you stand on one foot, and Sun Salutation, where you stand still with your hands towards the sky, help athletes to improve their balance. Other poses like Revolved Crescent, where you twist your back, and Downward Dog, where you lean forward and stretch with your back in the air, help to loosen the muscles.
Having muscles that are well-stretched and flexible can help prevent injuries to the hamstrings, knees and hip flexors. Most of the time, injuries to those muscles happen because of overuse, poor core strength and misalignment. Doing yoga aligns the spine and builds a strong core, preventing injury.
So, the next time you think about trying a new workout, go for yoga and gain loads of strength and flexibility!