SANTA CLARA — Along with speed and strength training, 49ers tight end George Kittle practiced yoga with his sister, Emma, as part of his offseason workout program in Nashville, Tenn.
"I actually hit about three straight weeks of yoga, which was really fun,” Kittle said this week as 49ers training camp opened. “Slightly more flexible. Can’t you tell I’m limber now?”
Kittle believes that increased flexibility could help as a preventative measure in regards to injuries during the season.
“[It's better] the more flexible you can get, because sometimes when you get tackled, you land in awkward positions and stuff like that,” Kittle said. “I have learned that when you’re more flexible, stuff like that doesn’t happen sometimes, where you just kind of tweak something. Hopefully, that will help me to stay healthy.”
While yoga was a new addition to Kittle’s offseason program, he has practiced with his sister for a few years.
“It’s just something that I’ve done in the past that I feel has worked for me,” Kittle said. “My sister is a yoga teacher, so it makes it pretty easy for me. It’s in house.
“I wanted to add something. I don’t like to do the same thing over and over. If you stay the same, you’re not getting better. So I just tried to add something in, and I think that helped me out a little bit.”
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“We’ve been doing yoga together since he was a senior at Iowa,” Emma said. “At this point, it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on with his body. Based off how he is feeling in a particular day, we modify our sessions accordingly.”
Emma worked alongside Josh Cuthbert, her brother’s strength coach, and Jeremy Holt, who worked on his speed. With the combined regimen, Emma noticed that after a few weeks, her brother’s flexibility had increased.
“I definitely saw a change in George’s body over our time together in Nashville,” Emma said. “Three weeks is kind of quick to notice a big change in flexibility, but he left for camp saying he felt better than he ever had before.”
“George’s strength and speed coaches were great about including me in their workouts. George’s entire training process was coordinated between the three of us to make sure we maximized our time with him.”
Emma teaches a sports performance variation of yoga, but the challenges for many of her clients are still about them taking their speed down several notches.
“George’s biggest challenge in his yoga practice is probably the same as every other athlete I work with — making time to slow down and be in a relaxed environment,” Emma said. “But one of his skills is being present in everything he does. He’s a pro, so he is always locked in.
“There are so many benefits for any athlete who incorporates yoga to their training routine. Finding ease in stressful situations is what I focused on with George. We did a lot of breathwork and long prop supported holds. Slowing down movements is a great way to enhance mobility and also target core strength and stability."
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It all sounds like serious work, but the two still enjoyed their time training together.
“He’s still my little brother, so we laugh a lot during our sessions,” Emma said.