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3 Questions For…Jason Papalio

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— April 16, 2017

3 Questions For…Jason Papalio

  • In addition to assisting clients as an athletic recovery specialist, Jason Papalio serves as a yoga coach.
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Talk about learning the hard way: After years of suffering sports-related injuries, it took an Achilles tendon rupture for Jason Papalio to “truly understand the importance of athletic recovery.” In addition to assisting clients as an athletic recovery specialist by combining “two things I love, sports and yoga” (jasonpapalio.com, @jpapalio1), Papalio serves as yoga coach for the New York Cosmos (nycosmos.com, @NYCosmos) of the North American Soccer League.

How do you use yoga to help Cosmos players, and how open are they to doing yoga? Sometimes it is guys who are injured or guys who are inflexible; I help them with flexibility, with stability. A lot of them have tight hamstrings, tight hips. If those areas are very tight, it affects movement efficiency—it hampers them in terms of movement out on the field. Guys who do it see the benefits. It’s a resource, so why not take advantage of it?

What other sports-specific benefits have players experienced? It’s such a fast-paced game—they’re running for practically 90 minutes straight, so there isn’t much rest. It’s very taxing, very demanding. They need to focus on breathing and getting their nervous system back in line. [Yoga helps players] reduce injuries, perform at a higher level, hopefully, extend their careers. The goalies use it a lot—they take a lot of pounding because they’re diving a lot. They wind up with rounded shoulders, so we do a lot of chest openers; that allows them to be more agile and active in a game.

How common is yoga and other alternative healing modalities becoming in soccer?

It is growing. Coaches reach out to these soccer teams in Europe [where soccer has been an organized sport longer than in the US] to find out what techniques they’re using. Teams provide modalities such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and massage to help the athlete perform at the highest possible level—they want to provide the athlete with as many benefits as possible. The athlete is an asset; if they’re sitting on the bench or not completely focused, that’s a depreciating asset.

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