Major League baseball players are coining the phrase “flexibility is the new strength” and adding yoga, stretching, and Pilates to their off season and spring training regimes. Baseball manager Joe Maddon said in 2007, when yoga was first introduced as an official part of the training program, that he expected yoga and stretching to soon be as mainstream as weight lifting for strength, and his assumption is now a reality.
The Devil Rays’ third basemen Evan Longoria is one player who first took yoga seriously as a way to find a little peace and contentment through the stressful baseball season. Needing to rehab his left foot, Longoria focused on functional movements and stability therapy, adding that doing yoga in a hot room for over an hour was no easy task, but also provided many benefits beyond peace of mind.
Many other baseball players have followed the lead of Longoria and used yoga or Pilates as part of their offseason training. Jimmy Rollins practiced yoga following an injury and went on to playing 142 more games after making a strong comeback. Jim Thome practiced both yoga and Pilates to better prepare his 41-year-old body for playing first base, and Alex Rodriquez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson have also reportedly added more flexibility to their training.