One of the biggest mistakes most athletes make is not taking the time after a workout to stretch properly.
Some of you might think you don't really need to stretch—or that stretching is for the weak or wimpy folks. Or maybe once your workout is over, you just want to bolt for the door, get the heck out of the gym, and jump into a hot shower.
Either way, we are doing our bodies an injustice by not taking the time to stretch. We are keeping ourselves from improvement, decreasing our speed, and making sure that we will absolutely get hurt at one point or another. Now, who really wants that?
If you don’t have the time to take a few yoga classes each week, or if you get confused about which stretches will help your body improve and recover, I can help.
This is a short list of yoga stretches for athletes and endurance sports enthusiasts to consider incorporating into their training. In total, these will take you about 15 minutes to complete. Believe me, your body will thank you for this in the longer run.
Yoga Stretches For Tight Legs
Seated Forward Bend
Begin sitting on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Make sure to sit upright and begin to lean forward from your hip-joint, aiming to reach your hands around the soles of your feet.
Allow your head to hang heavy and your back to round out. Make sure to focus on keeping a calm and consistent breath so that the muscles in your hamstrings and calves can relax with each inhale and exhale.
Wide Legged Forward Bend
Standing with your feet about three to four feet apart, bring your hands to your hips and slowly begin to fold forward, keeping your back as straight as possible as you go. When you have bent as far as you can, allow your spine to round and your head to hang heavy, bringing your hands to the floor.
Concentrate on keeping your breath consistent and in control. Hold anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. You will feel the stretch go deep through your hamstrings, making this posture perfect for any high impact, cardio-focused athlete.
Yoga Stretches For Tight Shoulders
Start in a table top position with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Flipping your toes, push back on your heels, straightening through your legs, and drawing your tailbone up to the sky.
Focus on pushing your shoulders back towards your thighs while drawing your heels down towards the ground. Allow your head to hang heavy, removing any tension from your neck.
By focusing on bringing your shoulders back towards your thighs, with your hands firmly planted into the mat, you will experience a tremendous stretch going all the way through your shoulders, as well as down through your hamstrings and calf muscles.
Yoga Stretches For Hips
This pose is intense! However, it is also incredibility beneficial in increasing flexibility and mobility through the hip-joint.
To begin, start in a low runner’s lunge and bring your right arm to the inside of your right foot. Next, slowly walk your right foot out to the outside edge of your mat. With control, begin to lower yourself down onto your forearms and if possible extend your arms straight out in front of you.
Allow your head to hang heavy and release any tension from your neck.
If coming down to your forearms is too painful, bring your forearms to two blocks instead. Hold here for roughly one minute. This pose will do an excellent job of loosening up your hips and allowing your hip-joint to have more mobility and less pain during workouts.
Come out of this pose by slowly bringing your body back up onto your hands and move back into your runners lunge.
From here you can transition into a three-legged down dog pose where you can complete a few rotations through your right hip socket to relieve any final tension or pressure that may have arisen throughout the stretch. Repeat on the left side.
Are you into endurance or competitive team sports? Try this stretching routine out after a grueling training workout and feel the difference it makes on your body!