All of that repetitive jumping, twisting and running motion takes its toll on the body; tight hamstrings, sore hip flexors, backaches and shoulder tightness, creaky knees and tight Achilles tendons. These are all common ailments of basketball players young and old. To keep a basketball player from sitting on the bench due to an injury, yoga can be a huge asset.
Yoga is good for stretching, strengthening and increased mobility of the muscles, but it's also great for breath control and spatial awareness; all traits that a basketball player needs.
These seven yoga poses are great for basketball players of any age. Perform each pose barefoot to help strengthen and stretch the toes, foot arches and ankles. Hold each pose for 30-60 seconds and repeat three times most days of the week.
Downward Facing Dog1 of 8
How to do it: Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Push with your hands and straighten your legs till you are in the shape of an inverted V. Extend your pelvic bones up and heels down. Let your head hang freely and stretch your waist. Heels are off the floor but are actively trying to reach the floor.
Why it's good: Elongates the shoulders and stretches and strengthens the hands, wrists, low back, hamstrings, calves, foot arches and Achilles tendons, which are all essential for any sport.
Standing Forward Fold2 of 8
How to do it: Standing tall, fold forward with a straight back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine, straightening your legs as much as possible. Place your hands on the ground or grasp opposite elbows for a Rag Doll position.
Why it's good: Relieves tension in shoulders and upper back and stretches hamstrings.
Warrior I3 of 8
How to do it: Step your feet wide apart with right foot out at 90 degrees and left foot at a 45 degree angle. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat. Press your weight through your left heel. Then, bend your right knee over your right ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Reach up strongly through your arms. Broaden across your belly, lengthen the sides of your waist and lift through your chest. You can keep your arms parallel or press your palms together above your head.
Why it's good: Builds strength in your ankles, knee and hip joints and improves balance.
Crescent Lunge4 of 8
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot between your hands into a lunge, keeping your right knee directly above your heel. Slowly lift your back knee off the floor. Press your back heel toward the wall behind you as you begin to straighten the back leg. Keep your spine long as you hold and breathe.
Why it's good: Strengthens the quadriceps and glutes. Stretches the psoas and hips. Targets all areas that basketball players use constantly while running up and down the court.
Bridge5 of 8
How to do it: Lay on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. You should be able to touch the backs of your heels with your hands. Place your arms on the floor alongside your body with palms down and, as you inhale, lift your hips off the floor and press them to the ceiling. Keep your knees directly over your heels. Hold.
Why it's good: Bridge strengthens the back and develops the muscles that surround the spine. It is also a powerful move to strength the glutes, hips and hamstrings, which are essential for running in basketball.
Plank Pose6 of 8
How to do it: Start by getting into a push up position. Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms (not on your hands). Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine. Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds.
Why it's good: Strengthens wrists and hands, which is good for grabbing the ball in rebounds and passes in basketball. Strengthens the entire core, which includes abdominals, hips and low back--essentials for basketball players.
Pigeon Pose7 of 8
How to do it: Come into Downward Dog Pose. Raise right foot and leg off the ground behind you. Bend your knee and bring it towards the inside of your right hand. Angle your knee at a 2 o'clock position. Slide your left leg straight back as you come to rest on the floor with your hips square. Remain with your hands resting on the ground with upper body upright. If a deeper stretch is needed, lower down to forearms or with head resting on the ground.
Why it's good: Increases hip mobility by loosening your outer and inner hip muscles. Muscles that are worked continuously in basketball as you pivot, jab step or change direction.