Yoga for Obstacle Races
Do you consider yourself a “tough mudder?” Or maybe you just love the thrill of Savage Race or other tricky obstacle courses. They take running to a whole new level.
Montana Ross of Pretty Lil’ Mudder sat down and discussed how and why she used yoga to help her obstacle course racing. Check it out! And check out Montana’s blog–she is amazing!!
Here’s Montana scaling an obstacle in a race. She uses yoga to help her compete safely! Read on to find out how and why!
I’m a very outgoing person, so when I go to a race or obstacle course event, I’m usually meeting tons of new people. I’m always looking to find new ways to train for obstacle racing, as it is a very demanding sport. Usually I ask others I meet what their training routines are; they ask mine as well. Many of them are surprised to hear that I practice yoga. They tell me they “don’t have time” to add yoga into their routines; some even tell me that “stretching and breathing” doesn’t seem like an exercise they’d like to attempt. A lot of the people I meet are cross-fitters; people used to lifting a lot of weight and pushing their bodies to the limit daily. They aren’t used to slowing down and deliberately being in a state of ‘non-being.’
What I would like to tell those people is why not enhance your performance and prevent injuries by adding yoga into the mix? My yoga routine includes dynamic stretching, core stability, balance and strength work- all of the things that obstacle racers value when competing in their races. Having yoga in your routine can help you recover faster after your workouts, loosen tight muscles that hinder performance, improve your balance for traversing those rickety walls we obstacle racers climb, and develop mental focus and concentration- definitely a useful thing to have while in the midst of a course!
Obstacle racers put our bodies through a lot. We running over various terrains, which normally include rocks, hills, uneven paths, and branches and other objects we have to quickly maneuver around. Not only that, we are also throwing our bodies into a variety of motions, usually in very quick succession. This includes crawling, jumping, balancing, lifting, throwing ourselves over, under, around and through various objects. It’s common to find OCR enthusiasts with various bruises on their bodies for weeks after their last obstacle race.
More serious injuries also occur; the same way runners can suffer from illiotibial band syndrome, so can obstacle racers. We can also suffer from dislocated shoulders, muscle strains, rib stress, and small fractures called stress fractures that we may not always know about right away. Yoga helps alleviate the small aches and pains we get from our vigorous exercises and it also prevents our muscles from becoming too tight. It builds a stronger center and aligns the spine, which helps take the pressure from our movements off the joints and tendons it isn’t supposed to be affecting.
Many athletes will say, “But I do stretch after my workouts!” However, most athletes are stretching in a static way- that is, stretching the muscles in the same way they’re being used. Yoga works the muscles and joints through a full range of motion and stretching, going beyond the static stretching most athletes are accustomed to.
Balancing poses are some of my favorite; the Tree and Eagle pose help me to concentrate and maintain stability in my core while also helping my body stay aligned. Practicing these poses helps me during an obstacle race because there are a lot of obstacles that require me to balance on a narrow beam or ledge while traversing an open hole or pit.
I also enjoy yoga because it helps me to stay centered and learn to focus. Learning to focus on my breath and calm my breathing when it becomes too harsh helps me to maintain control over my mind during intense obstacle races. There are definitely times when I want to quit or go around an obstacle because my body is tired and I’ve convinced myself I cannot complete the next challenge. However, yoga helps me to overcome these moments by focusing my mind only on the challenge in front of me, instead of anticipating all the other challenges I will still have to face. The mind-body connection in yoga is essential to helping athletes of all sports develop mental acuity and concentration. Yoga also helps athletes relax their overstressed minds, especially in the midst of a grueling competition.
While many people aren’t sure if yoga is for them, the good thing is that there are so many types of yoga that it can appeal to everyone! Don’t think you’ll like the restorative poses or gentle flow of basic hatha yoga? Why not try a vinyasa flow class? Or how about an ashtanga sequence? Practices such as these have dynamic movement and appeal to people who have a hard time quieting their minds enough to relax and let go. You could even try an aerial yoga class as I have been taking recently- hanging upside down is certainly a fun way to get your blood flowing! Alternatively, Bikram or in some classes, hot yoga, is a series of 26 poses performed in 95-105 degree heated rooms, which allow one to concentrate on perfecting your poses and postures while adding the challenging element of heat.
I encourage all athletes to try yoga- you never know if you’ll like it until you give it a shot!
What do you think? Are you an obstacle course fanatic? Have you tried yoga? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below. Special thanks to Montana for writing such an AWESOME guest post! We love you! 🙂 Please visit Montana’s blog, Facebook page, and follow her on instagram and twitter!!