Yoga helps prevention of injuries
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
Laura Massaro, the world number one female squash player, thanks yoga for helping her maintain a healthy mind and body as she enjoys the most successful spell of her professional career.
The former world champion in one of the most physically demanding sports acknowledges the help that yoga provides in developing the flexibility that is required in the numerous lunges that players are called upon to perform throughout matches.
She also credits yoga with aiding strength and flexibility as she looks ahead to the forthcoming Women’s World Championship in Malaysia.
Laura is one of squash’s most decorated players. Her numerous titles include three US Opens, a British Open and a World Open. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she picked up two silver medals adding to the silver she won at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Laura recently sat down with HFE (Health and Fitness Education) to explain how she first discovered yoga and how it has improved her game both mentally and physically.
She said: “I heard that the likes of Ryan Giggs and other professionals were using it as an aid to their training. I thought if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me. Particularly as I’ve got a little bit older, I have definitely found that it has aided my performance and training.”
Massaro feels that yoga has added new depth to her game, adding: “The biggest thing it has helped with is the injury prevention. The constant lunging that we do in squash and the dynamic movements all add up.
“Being strong in those positions off the court has enabled me to be strong in those positions on the court. It’s also prevented me from stressing my body too much while I’m actually training and playing.
“It’s not just the physical benefits that Laura enjoys, she also engages with the spiritual aspects of yoga. While she admits she’s not the most spiritual person: “…the meditation side has helped to quiet my mind and helped me focus a bit more – that’s definitely helped me on court as well.”
Yoga is also something Laura hopes up and coming squash players would consider doing. Looking ahead to a potential career in coaching, she said: “I feel if I was coaching I would try and get the youngsters into yoga, particularly earlier than I did, just from an injury prevention point of view.
“I’m sure squash is always going to be a part of my life and I’d like to be able to pass on that knowledge and yoga would certainly be a part of that.”
Laura finished the interview with some great advice for aspiring sport professionals: “I would definitely say that you need to write some goals down to start with. Ask what it is that you’re actually trying to achieve and then go after those goals.
“That’s been huge for me particularly the last three or four years of my career… you just need to make sure you train hard consistently on a day to day basis… that’s what’s going to get you to the very top and you need to get your head round that as soon as possible in my opinion.”
Read Laura’s full interview on HFE’s blog
About HFE: HFE (Health and Fitness Education) is a leading training provider of yoga and other fitness qualifications. They have recently received an Outstanding Achievement at the ukactive Active training Awards for Best Use of Technology.
Pictures courtesy of HFE