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After a grueling session on the court, field or track, most athletes head straight for the showers. But the failure to stretch can cause muscle damage. According to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the best ways to prevent chronic back problems down the road is a quick post-game yoga session.
The study, which followed sufferers of chronic back pain, found that the stretching movements in yoga were the key to a pain-free life. After 12 weeks of post-exercise stretching, participants in the study reduced their use of anti-inflammatory drugs by 40 percent.
If you want to recover more quickly after a tough game, put down the ice pack and start stretching. Follow the lead of pro teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, who have incorporated yoga into their conditioning. Hip flexor stretches like Upward-Facing Dog and Extended Side Angle with Knee Down help strengthen the core, and Sun Salutations stretch the spine. By focusing on the back and core, athletes can go a long way toward alleviating soreness and preventing injuries.
Not sure yoga is for you? Avoid back trouble with core strengthening exercises like Side Planks and BOSU Side-Ups. Instituting a stretching routine after workouts and games can keep you healthy all year long.