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Why Strengthening Is Just as Important as Stretching in Yoga

A well-rounded yoga practice should include strengthening to protect and stabilize the joints, reduce weakness and create more range of motion.



It is common to associate yoga with stretching and flexibility — but trust me, touching your toes or doing the splits is not a requirement. While stretching is important, it is equally as important to strengthen muscles around the joints to prevent weakness and reduce the risk of injury.


For many years, I thought that stretching was the best way to remedy tightness. I would challenge myself to push past my comfort zone in yoga poses without understanding the importance of engaging my muscles.


Over time, pushing too far and overstretching can lead to loose ligaments (hypermobility). According to Versus Arthritis, “hypermobility affects 1 in 4 people.” The ligaments help hold the joints in place and if they are loose, the joints may become misaligned, leading to pain or other injuries. I know the consequences well, as I have hypermobility in my shoulder. Unfortunately, once ligaments are stretched, they won’t go back to their original tightness. However, you can strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints to assist with holding them in place.


It may sound counterintuitive, but strengthening the muscles can also relieve the feeling of tightness. The body can feel tight when muscles are weak. For example, if you have weak glutes, your hips may be overcompensating. Additionally, if you stay in one position for a prolonged period of time (such as sitting at a desk during the workday), your hip flexors are compressed and shortened, which can lead to tightness. Adding movement and strength into your day can reduce imbalances and create better range of motion.


What are some benefits of strengthening in yoga?

  • Maintain proper alignment

  • Reduce weakness

  • Prevent falls and decrease the risk of injury

  • Stabilize and support our weight when walking and running

  • Ease of movement


There are 360 joints in the human body. The hip joint is one of the largest weight-bearing joints, so it is important to balance stretching with stabilization and strength. I filmed a quick strength-inspired yoga video to engage the hips and get your blood flowing. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor before exercising.



Remember to take breaks and hydrate! You can repeat the video 2-3 times for multiple rounds of hip activation.


Comment below to share how you feel after and which yoga move was your favorite. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more yoga tips and tutorials.


In balance and strength,

Shannon

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