Yoga Stretches For Athletes

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Yoga Stretches For Athletes

 The Top 10 Yoga Pose for Athletes

Yoga has been practiced for centuries. Yoga isn't just for yogis; it's also beneficial to athletes.

Yoga not only improves flexibility but also builds a strong and calm mind. It's no surprise, then, that athletes are increasingly turning to yoga to supplement their training. Many professional athletes, including NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Love, as well as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, have openly discussed how yoga has helped them keep their bodies and minds healthy and focused.

STACK spoke with some of the country's most knowledgeable yoga instructors to learn which poses are especially beneficial to athletes and how to get started with them. Here's what they suggested.


Another posture that improves poor posture. "This posture improves the muscles that surround the spine and strengthens the back," explains Shaun Sterling, co-owner of Bodywize Athletic Development and a yoga instructor (Warrensville Heights, Ohio). "It can aid in spine realignment and the elimination of forward rounded shoulders."

How to Go About It: Lie on your back and place your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Place your heels as close as possible to your "sit bones" (the bottom of your buttocks). Exhale and press your arms and feet into the floor to lift your pelvic bone off the ground. Keep your thighs and feet parallel and your hands on the ground beneath your lower back. 30 seconds hold to a time


Sitting in class or at a computer can be taxing on your body, particularly if you are hunched over. Forward flexion tightens your hip flexor and chest muscles, limiting hip and shoulder mobility. "Poses like Half Locust, Camel, Bridge, Wheel, Floor Bow, and Standing Backbends counteract this by bringing the body into extension, stretching the chest and shoulder muscles, and strengthening the back," says Kiersten Mooney, owner of Bala Vinyasa Yoga and a Baptise Yoga instructor (Naples, Fla.).

How to Go About It: Lie face down, hands at your sides, palms facing up. Lift your lower legs and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as possible on an exhale, then reach back with your hands and clasp your ankles. Maintain a hip-width gap between your knees; don't let them get any wider. Lift your ankles away from your buttocks and your thighs off the floor as you inhale. Maintain a flat back with your tailbone pressed into the floor and your back muscles relaxed. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, gazing upward and breathing.

Hindu Squats

"This slow movement improves ankle, knee, and foot health, mobility, and strength," Sterling claims. "It also strengthens the connective tissue around the ankles and knees, making it an excellent warm-up movement before lower-body exercises." If you don't have access to weights, you can do this Squat variation to build lower-body strength through the entire range of motion.

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and at a 45-degree angle. Clasp your hands in front of you. Lower into a squat by bending your hips and knees. Lower yourself until your buttocks touch your ankles and your elbows are in front of your knees. Repeat 5–10 times more.

Supported Backbends

"Supported backbends are my favorite resting positions," says author of The Athlete's Guide to Yoga and Racing Wisely. "They gently stretch tight spots while allowing athletes to relax deeply, which speeds up recovery."

How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, using blocks to support your head and thoracic spine (upper back). If you want to deepen the release, you can remove the block from beneath your head without discomfort.

Yoga Stretches For Athletes

Pigeon Pose Variations

The Pigeon is a traditional yoga hip-opener pose that, while challenging for some, is extremely effective at improving mobility. This one will definitely feel good in your hips and buttocks. Mooney recommends the Half Pigeon to athletes, while Kimberly Fowler, founder of YAS Fitness Centers, suggests the Reclining Pigeon "because it's easier on the knees."

Half Pigeon is performed on all fours with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Slide your right knee to your right wrist, so your right shin is perpendicular to your torso on the floor. Slide your left leg behind you slowly until the front of your left thigh touches the floor. Keep your right foot's toes dorsiflexed (pointing toward your shin) as you lower into an intense stretch through your right hip and buttocks. Hold for a few breaths before exhaling and lowering your torso over your right inner thigh, arms stretched forward. Hold the pose for a minute, then lift up and out of it, repeating with your left leg forward.

Dolphin Pose

One tight spot can jar your entire body, causing mobility issues and limiting your range of motion. That's why Natalie Sabin, a certified yoga instructor and co-founder of SoulStretch Mobile Yoga in Cleveland, Ohio, instructs her athletes to perform the Dolphin Pose. "It stretches the upper back and shoulders, as well as the hamstrings, calves, and foot arches," she explains.

How to Go About It: Begin on your hands and knees, then press your forearms into the ground so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Lift your knees away from the floor by pressing your palms together and curling your toes underneath you. It's fine to keep your heels lifted and your knees slightly bent—in fact, if your lower back rounds, keeping your knees bent is preferable to trying to straighten them. Draw energy from your inner ankles through your inner legs into your groin by lengthening your tailbone and lifting your hips toward the ceiling. As you do so, actively press your forearms against the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then exhale and return to the floor.

Low-Lunge Crescent Pose

Are you short on time? Sabin recommends the Low-Lunge Crescent pose, which targets many of the large muscle groups in the upper, lower, and core. "Best of all, it's a safe pose that anyone can do as long as they don't have any difficulty putting weight on the knee that is in contact with the floor.

Step your right foot forward between your hands in a lunge, making sure your knee is directly above your heel and your left leg is straight behind you. Then, place your left knee on the ground and slide it back until you feel a stretch in your left thigh and groin. Maintain a firm grip on the floor with the top of your left foot. Sweep your arms up and to the side, lifting your torso perpendicular to the floor. Maintain a straight neck by keeping your shoulders down and in and your gaze slightly upward. Before swapping sides, hold for a minute.

Reclined Easy Twist

Sabin suggests doing the Reclined Easy Twist before and/or after working out. "This restorative pose relaxes the back and neck muscles, calms the mind, and stretches the torso muscles," she explains.

Lie down on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Draw your knees in toward your chest, then lower them to one side on an exhale. As you lower your legs, try to keep your opposite shoulder pressed against the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then return your knees to the center and lower to the opposite side.

Reclining Big Toe Pose

"The Reclining Big Toe Pose simultaneously targets the hips, thighs, hamstrings, groin, and calves," Sabin explains. "It strengthens the knees and can target the IT band, a common tight place in runners, as well as treat backaches and sciatic pain," says the author. It's also because is easily adjustable with a strap, anyone can do it.

How to Go About It: Lie on your back with your legs pressed against the ground in front of you. Exhale, bend your left knee, and pull your thigh to your chest with your arms. Holding your big toe (as shown above) or looping a strap around your mid-foot, slowly straighten your knee to extend your leg upward. Maintain a firm grip on your opposite heel and both shoulders, and press upward through your right heel. Lower your leg and do the same on the opposite side.

Protein Powder for Kids

Protein is a macronutrient that is found in every cell of the body, including muscle, bone, skin, and hair. Protein is also an important component of the processes that provide energy and transport oxygen throughout your body in your blood. Though children require less protein than adults, everyone should get 10% to 35% of their daily calories from protein.

Protein has been having a moment in the world of weight loss. The majority of US consumers — 78 percent — agree that protein contributes to a healthy diet, and more than half of adults say they want more of it in their diets, according to the NPD. But how about protein for kids? Is there enough for them? And, if not, is it safe to supplement their protein intake?

How Much Protein Do Children Require?

Protein intake recommendations for children are as follows:

  • Children aged 2 to 3: 2 ounces of protein
  • 4 ounces of protein for children ages 4 to 8.
  • 5 ounces of protein for children aged 9 to 13.

It varies by gender for adolescents aged 14 to 18; teenage boys require 6 and a half ounces of protein, while teenage girls require 5 ounces. Children who consume more protein than they require may do more harm than good.

Children's Nutrition

Key recommendations for healthy eating patterns are included in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The guidelines recommend:

  • Consuming a wide range of vegetables and fruits, particularly whole fruits
  • Consuming grains, at least half of which should be whole grains
  • Consuming fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • Consuming a wide range of protein-rich foods, such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds, and soy products
  • Healthy oils for cooking and baking
  • Avoiding or limiting saturated and trans fats, as well as added sugars and sodium

Protein-Rich Foods

Protein is made up of over twenty basic building blocks known as amino acids. Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are essential amino acids that must be acquired from diet.

When your child is old enough to eat solid foods, he or she should be able to get enough protein from their diet. Protein-rich foods include:

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Lentils and beans
  • Seafood
  • Meats that are lean
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Protein Powder's Advantages for Children

Protein supplements, such as protein powder, may be beneficial if your child is unable to obtain the necessary amount of protein from whole foods. Your child may require additional protein if:

  • They are malnourished.
  • They are a fussy eater.
  • They follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. They have a metabolic disorder.

Always consult with your child's doctor before incorporating any protein powders or supplements into their diet.

The Dangers of Giving Protein Powder to Children

Protein will not be used efficiently if your child consumes more than they require. Instead, it may place a metabolic strain on their organs. Furthermore, high-protein/high-meat diets may be linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease or even cancer.

Your child may experience a number of side effects, including:

Digestive problems If you give your child whey protein powder, he or she may have digestive issues. This could result in bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea. The majority of these side effects are caused by lactose intolerance.

Gaining weight. If your child consumes more protein than his body requires, his body will store the extra calories as fat. One-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, putting them at risk of developing chronic weight-related health and medical problems.

Damage to the organs. A high-protein diet may cause your child's kidneys to work harder to filter out waste products, eventually wearing them out and contributing to dehydration. Kidney stones can also be caused by high protein levels. Protein processing generates nitrogen in the liver, making it more difficult for the body to process waste and toxins and reducing the body's ability to break down nutrients.

Protein Deficiency Symptoms in Children

There are numerous indicators that your child is not getting enough protein, including:

  • Growth rate that is slowed or stunted
  • Reduced immunity
  • Hungry (which may lead to weight gain)
  • Contact your pediatrician if your child exhibits or complains of any of the above symptoms.

Prevention of Protein Deficiencies in Children

First, familiarize yourself with the daily protein recommendations for your child's age group and be aware of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms of protein deficiency. Take the following additional steps:

Increase the amount of protein in their diet. Find ways to give your child protein throughout the day without relying on protein shakes. There are numerous healthy snacks for kids; you're sure to find some that they'll enjoy.

Understand the dangers of malnutrition.

Kwashiorkor is a form of severe malnutrition. The primary cause of kwashiorkor is a lack of protein and other essential vitamins and minerals. It is most common in some developing countries, but it can happen to any malnourished child.

Consult your doctor. Talk to your pediatrician if you're unsure where to begin or if you still have questions or concerns about your child's protein intake. They may refer you to a registered dietitian for further assistance.

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