Summertime is here, and you know what that means — summer softball season! Yeeeeaaaah boiii!
Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newbie, still in high school or well into your forties, softball can leave you with severe injuries if you don’t take some time to warm up and stretch your muscles beforehand. (Take it from my love who just tore his Achilles tendon in half while making a play in recreational softball last week. He ended up having surgery yesterday to fix it and now has nine months of recovery and rehab to look forward to. It happens!)
Luckily, yoga can help avoid this, so if you’re playing this season, you can benefit from a variety of poses specific to your sport. And to accommodate your busy schedule (and short attention span), I’ve broken this post into a series of three parts, so we’ll start with three poses… for now.
1. Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)
This pose is great for stretching the spine, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings, strengthening the legs, and improving posture and sense of balance.
- Keep the back heel grounded into the earth with all ten toes pointed forward.
- Front knee is straight but not locked.
- Reach with the crown of the head as if someone is pulling your head forward by the ears.
- Gaze down toward the earth or your toes.
2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Trikonasana is probably one of my favorite poses, because the sensation is always so different every time I come into it. It is somewhat similar in stance to the intense side stretch pose just listed, but the hips, chest, shoulders, and arms are open to the side.
The pose works a ton of muscles, including strengthening and stretching the back, arms, thighs, knees, and ankles and providing more flexibility to the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. It also improves balance and concentration.
- Back toes are pointed out 90 degrees, or whatever is comfortable, while front toes are pointed forward; heels are aligned or front heel is in line with back arch.
- Bend is at the hips, not at the waist, so there is a straight line from tailbone to head.
- Torso is rotated upward from the chest.
- Top fingertips reach to the sky, not behind you.
3. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
These pictures show common variations of this pose, but they both include the arm overhead. You can incorporate shoulder movement into this pose by adding gentle arm circles or sweeping the arm overhead and back down several times. Nobody needs to hurt any rotator cuffs today!
Extensed side angle pose strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles, and stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders… pretty much everything you need in softball, right?
- Bent knee stacks directly over the ankle and points toward the second toe.
- Push into the outside edge of the back foot to bring energy into the back leg.
- If forearm is on the thigh, do not collapse into the arm — you should have enough core activation to remove the forearm from the thigh without falling.
- Reach fingertips overhead, keeping a straight line from the back foot to the fingertips.
- Drop the shoulders away from the ears.
Try these out before your next game, and stay tuned for more in Game 2 next week.
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