As a member of the CrossFit community, it doesn’t take long to notice that a disturbing number of our fellow athletes seriously neglect their flexibility. The reasons are as varied as the workouts: “I don’t have time.” “I don’t know how to stretch.” “Stretching is for women.” “I don’t need to stretch.” And although some of these excuses may seem valid, stretching and mobility work are an essential part of any athlete’s routine, and CrossFitters are no different.
Yoga is fast becoming the weapon of choice for CrossFit athletes interested in a recovery tool that can also improve performance in training and especially during competition. A lot of people who consider themselves in great shape don’t realize they’re actually out of balance. CrossFit athletes must have structural and muscular balance and optimal movement mechanics to maximize performance.
When you think of yoga, several images may come to mind: bearded older men contorting their bodies, barefoot hippies clad in hemp, or even a bleach blonde starlet in skin hugging spandex. You may not think of an NFL football player, professional mixed martial artists, or even a die-hard CrossFitter, but the truth is that athletes in every sport practice yoga.
Yoga promotes strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and focus, all of which are values coveted by athletes of every caliber. (Kinda reads like the list of 10 General Physical Skills, doesn’t it.) As athletes, we need to create a strong foundation of support for our muscles to work against. Mobilizing and stretching allows the nervous system to release the brake that’s currently holding your tight muscles hostage and allow an increase in range of motion.
When done regularly, yoga helps strengthen the muscles that are underused while releasing the muscles that are tight from your training. For example, if you’re unable to touch your toes, then performing, say, burpees or toes to bar with any efficiency will be a challenge. Yoga is a great tool for improving any positional problems you might have.
Mobility and stretching should be a proactive approach, not a reactive one. There’s a great deal we can do to speed recovery, prevent injury, and improve performance. If you find yourself constantly struggling with repetitive muscle strains and pain, discomfort from sore and tight muscles, positional restrictions, and lack of mobility in key positions, then a regular does of yoga could be the answer.
Incorporate yoga into your training program to improve flexibility, mobility, and maybe even a few PRs.