Kinesiology and Yoga for Improved Athletic Performance

Athletic woman in running start position on the city street|Kinesiology and Yoga for improved athletic performance

If you’ve ever injured your foot or knee, you soon realize that it’s easy to take something as simple as walking for granted. Although you move your body almost constantly and spend the majority of your time training, you might not think about what goes into making those motions possible or even how better form could help you crush your goals.

By focusing on the study of kinesiology, you can understand what goes into these movements and maybe even improve your athletic performance along the way. Yoga also focuses on moving into positions that will strengthen joints and bones in the body. Yoga and kinetics can go hand in hand to help increase flexibility, strength, and boost athletic performance. It allows you to cross train your body while also gaining a greater sense of awareness in your body. This will be paid forward once you get back to doing what you do best.

What is Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement, function, and performance. It focuses on how the body moves. A kinesiological approach uses scientific and evidence-based principles to analyze and enhance human movement. Kinesiologists assess human movement and performance by applying sciences such as anatomy, physiology, motor learning, and biomechanics.  

With a better understanding of kinesiology and learning more about the way your body moves, you can understand how to better strengthen and train the smaller muscles that will support your athletic performance. I myself actually started learning more about kinesiology back in college in an effort to improve my performance in dance class.

Learning about muscles, bones, and understanding which ones did which action allowed me to retrain my body. For instance, the psoas muscle is deeply involved in leg extension, raising your leg high in front of your body. It was my goal to be able to have higher leg extensions. By learning how to efficiently use my psoas muscle, I actually greatly improved the height I was able to lift my legs.

Now you don’t have to become an expert in kinesiology or anatomy to reap benefits from understanding more about how your body functions. But it will allow you to have a deeper understanding of your body and in turn allow you to dig deeper when you train.

What Is Kinesiology?

Kinesiologists are often involved in rehabilitation, preventing injury and enhancing function or performance in sports, work, recreation, and exercise. While kinesiology is an area of scientific study, applied kinesiology is a practice used to manually test muscle strength. Through this muscle testing, you can get feedback from the body and pinpoint any underlying issues. Applied kinesiology uses muscle-testing techniques to restore balance and the natural flow of energy in the body.  

Maximizing Sports Performance Through Kinesiology

Therapist giving Kinesiology treatment|kinesiology and yoga for improved athletic performance

You might have heard the word “kinesiology” thrown around whether it’s in sports rehabilitation or after an injury but, how can your performance benefit from this? The focus of kinesiology is to analyze and understand how the body moves and functions which is essential to reach your fullest potential. Learning how the human musculoskeletal system functions is essential to diagnosing many injuries and also strengthening the body to prevent those injuries.

In order to graduate from a kinesiology program, you have to have knowledge of a range of subjects from physiology to ergonomics and social and cultural factors. High-performance athletes or anyone looking to improve their overall health can benefit from kinesiology. Your performance is all about proper movement and functioning in the best way possible, so what better way to understand your body than with kinesiology.

A kinesiologist can help to develop an individual regime to make sure you are performing at an optimum level, whether it’s at the gym or on the playing field. Kinesiology and athletic training often go together. By studying the movement of the human body, kinesiologists can create fully personalized training programs and boost performance.

One aspect that can have a major impact athletic performance is an injury. Kinesiology can help if you’re suffering from an injury, accelerate recovery and help to prevent future injury. Another way to help prevent and treat injuries is through using the holistic approach of applied kinesiology. By looking at the body and problem as a whole, you can diagnose the root issue, alleviate pain and start healing. The idea is that specific muscles can signal problems within the body. By correcting the muscle weakness, the root issue can be solved.

Using Applied Kinesiology to Prevent & Treat Injuries

How Yoga Benefits Athletic Performance

young woman practicing yoga indoor|yoga for improved athletic performance

Venturing into the world of yoga will give you the opportunity to challenge yourself in ways that will shape you into a hero of your life.  Flowing through yoga poses benefits both your mind and body. Anyone who has a regular practice understands how great even a quick yoga session can make you feel. But, yoga can also be very beneficial for athletic performance as well. Whether it’s Vinyasa, Bikram or Iyengar, yoga poses can enhance coordination, strength, flexibility, and concentration.

Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Core and Flatten Your Tummy 

Any athlete can benefit massively from a regular yoga practice. Yoga can improve almost every part of your performance from endurance to speed while promoting overall health and wellbeing at the same time. Experts have found that yoga can play an integral role in cultivating mind control and concentration which helps a sportsperson to perform at peak levels.

The (mental benefits of yoga) also include learning to face adversity with calmness and pushing the body past the mental barriers that limit its output.

One study investigated the effects of a regular yoga practice on balance and flexibility in college athletes. After 10 weeks, the athletes noticed an increase in flexibility and balance as well as whole-body measures of college athletes. This suggests that yoga may enhance overall athletic performance.  

Even the most intense yoga session doesn’t compete with something like interval training or deadlifts. The idea is that yoga enhances your training, not replaces it. By improving your posture, flexibility, body mechanics and general awareness, you can make your training more effective.

One of the most important benefits of a regular practice is increased focus. It can dramatically enhance your focus and clarity. But, why does this matter? At the highest level, athletes work and train very hard with an undeniable focus, a focus that can be tested at times. Yoga can give you the mindfulness and awareness you need to progress and take your performance to the next level.

A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health looked at 30 female college students who didn’t practice yoga regularly. After 20 minutes of yoga, participants were given cognitive tests. Researchers found that memory and focus were significantly better after the yoga practice when compared against both aerobic exercise and baseline test subjects.

Regular yoga practice can give you the following:

  • Better balance
  • Help with injury prevention
  • Increased power
  • More endurance
  • Faster recovery
  • Improve stress management
  • Boost immune system
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Greater Flexibility

In an eight-month study, women performed two 60-minute sessions of Ashtanga yoga per week. After the study, the women noticed an improvement in quadricep, hamstring, and calf strength compared to the women who did not practice yoga.

Another study showed that Vishnu Yoga stretches the hamstrings, hips, calves, pelvis, and groin muscles. It tones the abdomen, increases hip mobility, and can help reduce low back pain.

Yoga and Kinesiology

Physiotherapist working with patient in clinic|yoga and kinesiology

A yoga flow consists of moving your body into different positions. This is where yoga and kinesiology combine to create a better practice to further enhance athletic performance. By understanding the biomechanics of the human body and how you move, kinesiology can support yoga and vice versa. With knowledge of kinesiology and yoga, you can ensure your body is functioning at its best.

Imagine performing Triangle Pose for the first time. You take a wide stance with the right alignment on the mat and turn your toes out. Focus on keeping your hips squared before reaching out and down toward the front foot while reaching to the ceiling, opening the chest and breathing deeply. That one pose covered almost the whole body. Getting into the right pose to get the most benefit out of it, not only requires knowledge of the pose but an understanding of how the body functions and moves.

Triangle Pose | Grace Van Berkum

Yoga changes the way you think and gives you a different mindset . You can learn to move easily and in a way that doesn’t force your body. This will help to prevent injuries, open your mind and boost your training. Understanding the anatomy of yoga teaches you about physical alignment and which muscles are engaged with each pose. Kinesiology is the study of movement and function. You can see how the two intertwine and complement one another.

Both kinesiology and yoga can benefit and boost athletic performance. By combining the knowledge of human movement and function with a regular yoga practice, you can look to increase strength, balance, flexibility and clear the mind. Kinesiology can play a role in injury prevention and rehabilitation all of which enhance performance and give you the ability to keep training.


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