MIGHTY FIT

5 reasons these Yoga Joes are smarter than you

"No pain no gain."

"Suck it up."

"Pain is weakness leaving the body."

These clichés are why your back hurts and your knees are jacked up. Sure, you need to push yourself during strength training if you want to get stronger and you have to mentally overcome the discomfort signals from your body during a long run, but there's a difference between your edge and your injury. If you don't know where that line is, then you risk an injury that could cause chronic pain for the rest of your life.

A lot of training injuries come from improper alignment, working out without warming up or cooling down, tight muscles, and weak joints.

Guess what will help: yoga. I DARE YOU TO TRY IT, YOU COWARDS.

Here are 5 reasons why:


1. Yoga can help prevent shin splints

Shin splints are a common ailment in military recruits. A U.S. Naval Academy study found that 97 percent of study participants suffered shin splints during training and on average each patient had to stop running for 8 to 10 days. They got off pretty easy — unless those 8 to 10 days were during a critical physical training time period like boot camp or deployment.

Guess what can contribute to shin splints: weak ankles, hips, or core muscles.

Guess what can help strengthen your muscles, stabilize your hips, and build your core: yoga.

2. Yoga prevents lower back pain

Does your lower back hurt? TRICK QUESTION – I KNOW IT DOES. When you stand for long periods of time (say, at attention or on patrol), the increased pressure on your spine can making the lower back muscles tighten and spasm, leading to pain. Adding gear and a weapon kit and you're only compounding the pressure.

A yoga practice includes postures and movements that alleviate the lower back and stretch the muscles on the back of your body, from your achilles tendons to your calves and hamstrings to your traps and shoulders.

Do Downward Facing Dog like a real man. Your body and your country will thank you for it.

3. Yoga helps manage anxiety

The military is a mind-f*** at a minimum. The United States has been operating in sustained conflict for eighteen years. The stress of combat, of losing friends, and of trying to find self-worth when your country sets you up on a hero's pedestal is traumatic — and the symptoms of trauma are literally lethal.

A yoga practice gets you out of your mind and into your body. It helps you breathe deeply. It's a discipline-oriented program that helps you actively combat the stress you've endured.

But don't just take my word for it — ask Navy SEAL Mikal Vega.

Related: This SEAL will show you how to fight the enemy when it follows you home

4. Yoga can help your neck pain

Don't do a headstand. You're not ready.

You're strong enough to do a headstand, sure. Headstands are easy to do — but they're very hard to do correctly. That's the thing about the military mindset — we're brainwashed trained to become the ultimate fighting weapon so we ignore pain and tackle too much physicality too fast.

Adding too much weight too fast at the gym stresses the back, neck, shoulders, and knees.

Standing at attention or carrying 100 pounds of gear strains the neck — it literally causes a condition known as "military neck."

Doing 10-second stretches at the end of your gym session will not repair the damage you just did over an hour of weight-lifting. But a 30-minute daily yoga practice might.

5. Yoga can prevent knee pain

In 2009, the Army reported that on average soldiers were going to sick call twice a year for musculoskeletal injuries. According to Military.com, the knee joint is susceptible to injuries of the connecting tissues of ligaments and tendons, compression tissue of the cartilage, and muscular strength and flexibility imbalances. The most common injury is Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrom (PFPS) or pain along the Iliotibial Band (IT Band or ITB).

Two critical ways to prevent and treat that pain? Stretch and strengthen the hamstrings, calves, and lower back. You need to stretch daily for a sustained period of time. Guess which poses in yoga really target these areas of the body: Warrior Poses.

Ancient military cultures used to take care of their bodies because they didn't have advanced weaponry to rely on for deadly force. With the advance of weapons, we've come to treat the human component of war as disposable.

Don't treat your body like it's disposable. Take care of it. Take care of your joints. Take care of your spine. Take care of your mind.

Otherwise you'll suffer. That's the plain truth.