Influences of a yoga intervention on the postural skills of the Italian short track speed skating team


In preparation for a short track speed skating season, eight men and seven women were given yoga sessions during an 8-week high volume training cycle. The sessions were planned according to the postural aspects specific to short track speed skating technical requirements. Three specific goals were selected for the intervention: 1) to observe whether the practice of yoga as postural training could improve the efficiency and the athlete’s repertoire along the muscular synergies solicited in the short track speed skating specific technique; 2) to enhance and diversify the motor time-on-task of athletes without changing the prescription of other training stimulus; and 3) to lower the risk of injury during periods with high volumes of training.

A total of 36 sessions of yoga were given. Three postural tests were administered before and after the intervention with 14 angles analysed. Non-parametric Wilcoxon test was used to compare angles’ variations.

The 36 yoga sessions totalised 986 minutes of motor time-on-task, registering a proportion of 30% of the global motor time-on-task of the training cycle. Improvements were found in eleven of the 14 angles measured when comparing pre- and post-postural tests (P-value from 0.01 to 0.005). During the 8 weeks, excepting traumatic injuries due to short track speed skating accidents, no skaters suffered injuries linked to the high volume of training. Following the intervention, coaches noticed, following their on-ice feedbacks, an adjustment in the efficiency of the skating technique, in particular regarding hip dissociation.

These results suggest that yoga could be inserted into out-of-season training cycles, even in a high volume training cycle. Planned with the decision training tools, it allows athletes to diversify their motor time-on-task by integrating a new functional range of generic movements with the solicitation of neuromuscular synergies related to the specificity of their sport.