LeBron’s Extra Edge: Devotion to Yoga Helps Keep James Healthy »

Apr 6, 2009 at 5:32 am | around-the-nbalebron-james

When James first came into the NBA at the age of 18 he didn’t even tape his ankles, sometimes ate McDonald’s an hour before tipoff and his main use for ice was cooling beverages. As he’s matured, part out of necessity and part out of pride, he’s serious about preparing and maintaining his body for the rigors of an NBA season. That includes a wide range of measures from diet and recovery techniques to the Vajrasana, Virasana and the particularly stunning Salamba Sarvangasana. They are yoga poses and they are also an essential part of James’ routine every week. “Yoga isn’t just about the body, it’s also about the mind and it’s a technique that has really helped me,” James said. “You do have to focus because there’s some positions that can really hurt you at times if you aren’t focused and breathing right.”

From the “thunderbolt pose” to the “hero pose” to even “downward facing dog,” James has become a devout believer in the benefits of yoga. He and assistant athletic trainer Mike Mancias have been developing a regimen over the last two years. James got serious last summer when Mancias was with him for much of the Team USA events in Las Vegas and China. During the season, they carve out time at least once a week and sometimes more for the practice. Often it happens at team hotels on the road and the two prefer to do it outside if possible. The two also do some pilates exercises. “He tries to focus on things that will help him and that the body needs, especially for balance and to strengthen his core,” said Mancias, who is in his fifth year with the Cavs. The theory is that basketball players tend to be strong in certain areas, such as the legs and arms, due to the nature of the game. But all the repetitive motion can build up tension and limit flexibility in some joints and large muscles. James started getting into the importance of stretching during his third season. Partially inspired by then-teammate Alan Henderson — who extended his 12-year career by using elastic bands and a large inflatable ball in a stretching routine. The positions increase flexibility in areas athletes don’t always pay attention to but basketball players need. Such as ankles, shoulders and hips. Fans can surely remember times when James appeared to have suffered serious ankle injuries only to shake them off. Some of that may be due to the freakish size of James’ joints, but some of it may be from those targeted workouts. About one month ago, for example, he flipped backwards over his neck chasing a loose ball in Phoenix. It looked like he may have hurt himself doing it, but in reality it was sort of like the Salamba Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, he’d worked on a day before. It’s part of a package James now employs. He gets massages on most game days, gets his ankles heavily taped and wears a padded vest under his jersey to protect his ribs, and ices his feet and lower back after every game and contact workout. It includes an overall better series of eating habits and weight training, which James is now more devoted to than ever. Recently James held a special event for some students from Holy Cross Elementary in Euclid at the Cleveland Clinic Courts to promote yoga and its benefits. At first he seemed a little shy in talking about yoga; brute athletes in the past have not always been lauded for work with such finesse arts. But as James has experienced the benefits, he’s become an advocate of yoga, pilates and massage therapy that he does with the Cavs and their support staff. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of physical talent and a strong body,” James said. “I have focused on working hard to maximize those gifts.”

A typical LeBron James Gameday:
  • Morning: Stretching; Strategy sessions, drills and shooting with teammates and coaches; Film work
  • Afternoon: Lunch and hydration; Nap
  • Pregame: Small meal; A mixture of weight training, massage therapy, stretching, ankle taping and shooting
  • Postgame: Ice bath for feet, lower back and sometimes shoulders; Small meal, often chicken, sushi and/or fruit with recovery drinks
Read the whole article here. LeBron8217s Extra Edge Devotion to Yoga Helps Keep James Healthy