3 Poses to Help Athletes (and Everyone!) Recover

Professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier says in his book Thrive Foods that there is "no such thing as overtraining, only under-recovering."

We couldn’t agree more.

While most of us have grown accustomed to the notion that the harder you train, the better you’ll perform, the fact is that sometimes, less is more.

We invite you to reconsider, or at least amend, this age-old adage.

Mental and physical stress — from the pressures of competition, to the aches and pain that come with long workouts — can wreak havoc on even the strongest of athletes.

Depriving your body of rest days during a particularly grueling training program can cause breakdown in muscle tissue, depletion of energy stores, decreased immunity, and depression, not to mention a drop in your performance.

Valuing recovery is critical to your success as an athlete, helping your body adapt and benefit from the fruits of your physical labor. Sure, kicking off your sneakers and vegging out on the couch is one way to rest, but incorporating yoga into your recovery routine is optimal for those hoping to take the healing process one step further.

Here are the three poses to help you hit reset:

1. Restorative bridge

Whether you’ve been working out at the gym or working on your laptop, the muscles in the front of your body (especially in the hips and chest) will echo this kind of strain, tightening up and and gradually starting to “hunch” you forward. This pose helps to re-lengthen the front of the body while also providing a subtle traction for the low back, alleviating low back stiffness.

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.

Put a block under your low back. If you don’t have a block, use a pillow or stack a few books so that your hips are at least slightly elevated.

Your butt should be resting on your props, not hanging forward off it.

Keep adjusting until you find a comfortable resting spot.

Bring your arms into a goal post shape or reach them all the way overhead so that your chest broadens.

Relax your feet, let your weight drop into your prop, and breath deeply for 2–3 minutes.

2. Reclined side bend

Since we’re so forward-oriented, the sides of the body are often neglected and as a result, tend to get pretty tight and even stick together!

And consider this: it’s not just that those side-body muscles are tight. They are stuck together! Use this pose to lengthen and “unstick” the entire lateral side of your body.

Lie flat on your back.

Straighten your legs and reach your arms overhead.

Reach out through your fingers and toes, making your body as long as possible.

Grab your right wrist and bend your torso way over to your left.

Cross your right ankle over your left and take your legs over there, too, making a big arch shape on the floor.

Hold for 5 deep breaths before switching sides.

3. Legs up the wall

This is probably the most simple, yet most effective pose for recovery. When you “invert” your lower body (bring your legs higher than your torso/heart), it helps re-circulate your blood and drain excess fluid from the legs. Plus it lengthens those stiff hamstrings, neutralizes your spine, relaxes the feet and lower legs… we could go on and on. It’s the best!

Get as close to the wall as you comfortably can and extend your legs straight up the wall.

If your legs feel like they’re still engaged/working hard, back away from the wall a bit more.

Bend your knees slightly and let your feet turn out.

Bring your arms into a goal post shape or reach them all the way overhead so that your chest broadens.

Stay and breathe deeply for 5 minutes.

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