Is gym training helping you stay free of sports injuries?
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Cross-training definitely promotes injury avoidance but it’s important to find the right type of cross-training. While a number of cross-training options minimize the risk of injury by strengthening all muscle groups, warding off muscle imbalance and giving over-used muscles the chance to recover, in reality many injuries actually come from awkward collisions, falls and impacts that damage your joints.
‘Gym training will make you stronger, but it won’t protect against these injuries, because you always use safe, specific movement patterns when you lift weights. All the calf raises in the world won’t help you if you roll your ankle.’ Steve Maxwell
Power yoga may be the ultimate holistic workout, strengthening and toning muscles groups; increasing flexibility, improving posture, and promoting mindful breathing BUT it’s ability to reach deeply into connective tissue is where its true injury protection skills lie.
The truth is, most runners don’t think about connective tissue till it hurts. When we experience our first case of Achilles tendinitis; plantar fasciitis or even IT band syndrome – we start to pay attention. A simple ankle sprain or cartilage tear in our knee can take a serious toll on our running capabilities and in turn our sanity! The trouble is, once connective tissue damage is done, it’s really difficult.
What does connective tissue do?
Exactly what is says… it connects your body’s muscles, organs, blood vessels and nerves to one another. It cushions and protects your body and creates support and strength as you run.
How can you protect against injury and keep running or training in your chosen sport for as long as possible?
A directional yoga practice aimed at taking care of your connective tissue is one of the best ways to guard against injury. CT does adapt to specific training but it adapts at a much slower rate than muscle – try and do it fast and you will create injuries.
But Yoga? The thing is, we aren’t talking about sitting cross legged surrounded by incense here (that’s fine if it’s what you are looking for), we are talking about a focused vinyasa flow that deeply targets connective tissue.
In teaching power yoga, a favourite saying of mine is that ‘sweet discomfort’ is fine but pain isn’t. It’s this area of sweet discomfort that can help us train our connective tissue to better support and protect us in our chosen sport.
In life, we are taught that our CNS allows us only two choices ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ – our yoga practice tells us there is a third option. Learning to simply sit in that area of sweet discomfort until our breath and our mind allow our body to soften -so whilst vinyasa a flow is indeed based on movement, within our constant flow we can allow ourselves to begin to move much more deeply into some prime CT work.
Many muscular injuries are the result of an overactive stretch reflex, where our body involuntarily contracts muscles if they’re placed in unfamiliar positions – it’s always amazing to hear runners tell me that having practiced vinyasa flow for a while they don’t even notice when they go over on their ankles anymore – their glutes, hamstrings or piriformis don’t cause constant pain and their running performance has improved along with their non-running posture and their focus.
In addition to enhancing your connective tissue, learning to sit in this area of sweet discomfort also helps to recondition your nervous system so it doesn’t perceive these or other unnatural positions (or situations) as a threat – it’s neuroplasticity at its most basic.
It’s impossible to injury-proof your body completely, but training your connective tissue will reduce the risk, and keep your joints functioning healthily for longer, with vinyasa flow you simply include the added bonus of retraining your brain to become more flexible and less led by stress.
We’ve created the first of three short sessions which can be used to prep for your run or recover from it, aimed at getting deeply into your bodies connective tissue – why not try it for 30 days and see the difference?
Simply connect to our ‘On Demand’ Section at www.bookwhen.com/bodhi and you can access this targeted class as often as you would like for 30 days for only £5.
If you like the results why not come long to one of our studio classes (if you are local) or take advantage of our live-stream sessions. Taking care of your connective tissue is one of the best ways of ensuring the longevity of your running practice so why not start now.