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The Importance of Flexibility Training for Athletes

Exercise Science
Are you an Athlete, a Sportsperson, or even just an avid fitness enthusiast? If yes, how often do you listen to your body??

Being an athlete starts off with fun and games until the monster called competition creeps up on you, and takes you downhill through a tunnel filled with sweat stained dreams, haywire limits and unforgiving injuries. What started off as a hobby becomes the most integral part of your life – suddenly you are expected to be more sportsperson than human, where is the time left then, to listen to what your body has to say? Turning a deaf ear to your pains and pushing through discomfort is not as smart as you think it may be. An athlete’s body has a taxing journey through life, it requires the discipline of an army man, the perseverance of a woman in labor and the stubborn will of a child. To top it off, the following thoughts must be pestering you constantly, amongst your other worries: 1) You are so physically active, then why should you get injured as often as you do? 2) It’s been years since you’ve been playing and your body still feels stiff, how is it not adapted yet? Troubleshoot your body Most of the time, athletes have intense muscle strain as a result of their strenuous training routines, repetitive movements and taxing lifestyles. Well, your dilemmas are rightly justified, and its troubleshooting lies in your ‘fascia’. Fascia may sound like a fancy dessert from a French café’s menu, but it is actually a pliable connective tissue that covers your body’s anatomy, divides and connects its architecture. It looks quite like the membrane around each section of an orange; the fascia tissues also serve as a layer of protection and body awareness. It includes up to 30 percent of a muscle’s total mass, and, according to a study, it accounts for approximately 41 percent of a muscle’s total resistance to movement. The good news is that the fascia tissue can be manipulated by stretching which is why a rising number of athletes are incorporating yoga into their training protocol. Although, there are some intensive injuries where the damage has gone too far and they can only be treated by medical care; in such cases even yoga should only be practiced after approval from a professional therapist. Free your body 1) Avoid injuries – Athletes have a higher risk of injury, muscle strains, sprains and imbalances due to their strenuous activity levels. Yoga serves as a tool to improve posture, to lengthen and strengthen the musculature of the body, to realign joints, ligaments and muscles. 2) Introspective balance – Athletes face a lot of pressure in terms of not just external competition but they also fight an internal war with themselves – they are constantly required to focus on their performance, fitness, dedication etc. Yoga encourages psychological well being by syncing the mind, body and breath with flowing movements. Regular practice will rejuvenate the athlete’s mind from the baggage that comes from having such a rigorous lifestyle. 3) Gain flexibility – Repetitive motions cause adhesions in the body and often leads to a loss of agility and mobility. Contrary to popular belief, flexibility is not simply inherent. Just like one trains for strength to develop strength, regularly training for flexibility will lead to recovered mobility and desired suppleness. Yoga and flexibility training allows you to free your body of muscle knots, tension, fatigue, stress and prepares you to persevere through your game with focus and a better sense of balance in terms of mind and body. Article Credits – Nida Aziz

Brijnandan patel


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