HOW TO MASTER YOGA FOR TRIATHLETES
Ten key stretches that will improve your swim, bike and run performance in 2023. Take them slow and manage your progression…
01 DOWNWARD DOG
This is a great yoga exercise (photo above) to ease tension in the calves and feet from running, while strengthening the lower back for cycling. Start on your knees with your hands out in front of you, pushing your bottom up until you feel a stretch in your calves and base of your feet. Straighten your legs if you can to feel a greater stretch but make sure you keep your back straight.
02 PIGEON FOLD
The Pigeon Fold loosens up the hips, which can become particularly tight when cycling. Start in a Downward Dog position, before bending your right knee and sweeping it down in front of you. Lower yourself to a comfortable seated position. Then stretch your left leg behind you. You should feel the stretch in the quadriceps and hamstrings. Hold your chest high to really focus the stretch.
03 LOW LUNGE
This helps to relieve pain at the back of the knee, often caused by cycling and running. Take a big step forward with your right foot, ensuring your feet are around hip-distance apart. Bend your front leg and lower your rear knee to the mat. Slowly move your hips forward to feel a stretch in your rear leg’s hip flexor. Hold for 15-30secs before switching legs.
04 DOLPHIN POSE
The Dolphin Pose opens up the shoulders, chest and hamstrings. Again, this’ll benefit all three disciplines. Start on your hands and knees, with your knees directly beneath your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Exhale and tuck your toes under, pressing your coccyx toward the sky. Keep your knees slightly bent to start. Press your heels toward the ground. Lower down onto your forearms, with your elbows beneath your shoulders. And then simply broaden your shoulder blades away from each other.
05 CAT COW
This is good for swimming and opening up the shoulders. Ease into the all-fours position, inhale and lift your right arm straight up toward the ceiling. As you exhale, release that arm and place it under your left armpit, lowering your right shoulder and right cheek to the floor. This is excellent to open up the shoulders. Hold for 30secs, switch sides.
06 SEATED FORWARD BEND
This is a good exercise to ease out tension in your inner thighs and groin. Sit on the floor and extend your thighs outwards; ensure your toes are pointing up. Slowly lean forward and walk your hands forward between your legs. Do this to the distance you feel comfortable with. Hold and then repeat.
07 BRIDGE POSE
A stretch that’ll strengthen your bike, which will help all three disciplines. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Position your hands either side of your body to keep yourself balanced. Press your feet and arms firmly into the floor and push your hips off the ground.
08 CRESCENT LUNGE
This opens up the torso as well as stretching your leg muscles, groin and hip flexors. From a standing position, step the ball of your left foot to the back of your mat. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Reach both arms straight overhead and bend your right knee to 90°. Relax your shoulders as you continue reaching up and lengthen the back leg. Hold and switch sides.
09 LIZARD POSE
This is another stretch that’s great for opening up tight hips, which are so common in triathletes. Simply, with your left leg forward, perform a low lunge, bringing your hands to the inside of your left foot and gradually lowering them to your forearms. You should breathe while pressing your left heel down. Take several deep breaths before repeating on the right side.
10 THREAD THE NEEDLE
This pose works your thoracic mobility, which is beneficial to swimming as this can become stiff over length after length, especially if you’re doing front crawl. All you have to do is ease into the tabletop position (essentially, this is on all fours) on your hands and knees. Inhale as you extend your right arm out in front of you and place it on the ground. Exhale as you move your left arm across your chest underneath you. Gently lower your right shoulder until it’s touching the mat. Take several breaths in this position before repeating for the other side..