by Kali Bliss | November 10, 2018 5:13 am
Athletes get hurt from time to time—that’s just one of the risks of any sport. Injuries can sideline anyone from a promising young prospect to a seasoned pro, and there can also be unintended consequences of injury, including addiction to painkillers. Even over-the-counter medications can cause problems like high blood pressure and kidney damage.
To avoid injury whenever possible and to cope with it when it does occur, athletes need to take preventative measures and learn how to cope with pain using natural methods. One practice that can help with both injury prevention and pain management is yoga—a popular activity among athletes that has many benefits.
Yoga, especially when paired with meditation, can help athletes improve their well-being and may even reduce chronic pain, blood pressure, and fight off mental illness. Here are 4 great ways yoga and meditation can benefit athletes who are concerned about injuries or pain management.
1. Create More Flexibility and Ease
Obviously, preventing injury is the best-case scenario for athletes. Many athletes don’t cross train, however, and become injured when they must move their bodies in unfamiliar ways. Yoga is a great way for athletes to increase their flexibility, strength, and ease.
Yoga poses train a wide range of different muscles, making them more flexible. This flexibility means that even areas of the body that aren’t directly trained for the athlete’s sport are prepared for unexpected movement. That can help prevent injury from occurring in a wide range of situations, which is why it’s a good idea for all athletes to practice yoga regularly, even if they aren’t recovering from an injury.
2. Breathing Reduces Inflammation and Stress in the Body
We’re a nation of stress, with most people constantly on the go. Meditation and yoga focus on being present and breathing fully and deeply. The breath patterns help restore the body to a peaceful state and can relax the parasympathetic system. Yoga and meditation can help to decrease inflammation in the body and help athletes feel more at ease. Improving one’s well-being can help athletes recover faster and more fully from an injury.
3. Improve How Athletes Cope
Because they are injured so often, athletes are more likely to need painkillers than the average person. These are extremely addictive, and an athlete who uses painkillers, especially opioids, may continue to use the pills after the pain is gone. As a nation, we are in the midst of an opioid crisis, with an estimated 2 million Americans dealing with an opioid abuse problem. Around 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016. Once someone starts using opioids, they need progressively higher doses to get the same effects, which can ultimately lead to an overdose.
Instead of relying on these highly addictive painkillers, athletes need resources to help them cope with pain when healing from an injury. Yoga can be part of both the prevention and rehabilitation from injury. Natural alternatives are available, and can help athletes avoid the possibility of addiction from prescription painkillers.
4. Creates Body Awareness
Sometimes, injuries occur when athletes do not have enough awareness and connection to their bodies. They may push their bodies too far, causing anything from a hamstring pull to neck strain. Regular yoga practice helps athletes to understand their bodies and what they’re capable of. Yoga helps players to take care of their bodies and monitor how different muscles and joints feel on a regular basis. Body awareness can help athletes prevent injuries and ensure that they are able to continue playing far into the future, without abusing their bodies.
Every Athlete Should Add Yoga and Meditation
Becoming more centered, flexible, and strong helps in any sport. All athletes should consider adding yoga and meditation to their training regimen at least a couple of times a week. Not only can these activities help to improve performance, but they can also keep athletes on the field. No one wants to take a forced break because of an injury—and maintaining flexibility can mean the difference between healthy playing and sitting on the bench.
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