Relax to Recover
By Sage Rountree
As the weather and summer race schedule offer us more and more opportunities to play outside, don’t forget that recovery is a critical element of your training. In fact, it’s during recovery that you grow stronger. My new book, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery, details how you can measure and enhance your recovery to avoid injury, feel great, and reach your potential as an athlete. Yoga can be an important part of your recovery plan, as gentle and restorative practices help jump-start your recovery and support your parasympathetic nervous system. Here’s a pose you can do just about anywhere: calves to a chair.
Get yourself a prop: a sofa, a chair, or a coffee table. Depending on the length of your thigh bones, you might need to add padding on the surface of your prop so you can have right angles at the front of the hip and back of the knee. Lying down, slide your bottom toward your prop until your thighs are perpendicular to the ground. Choose an arm position that feels good for your chest, yielding a gentle stretch.
Stay here a while, five minutes or more. Relax everywhere, letting the weight of your thighs help settle your pelvis. Gravity holds you here, so continue to let go more as you breathe. When you’re ready to move on, come up gently and sit for a moment, enjoying the calm this pose instills and knowing that you’re becoming a better balanced athlete and person to take time for self-care.
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Sage Rountree, PhD, is Runner’s World’s expert on yoga for athletes and is the author of numerous books and articles on yoga and triathlon training. A USAT-certified coach, she is co-owner of the Carrboro Yoga Company (mycyco.com), which will hold a yoga teacher training beginning September 2011. Find her class, clinic, and workshop schedule, as well as many yoga and training resources, at sagerountree.com.