Are you a runner with no interest in yoga? Are you a runner who wants to improve your performance and avoid injury? Then you might have to rethink the first statement!
As a runner, adding yoga to your training schedule may be the best decision you ever make. Not only will it keep you running longer and injury free. It can also help with returning from injury and boost your performance. Any activity that has repetitive movement is, over time, going to put stress and strain on the muscles and joints used. Depending on how you run, that will be different for everyone but if you run, you will eventually strain a muscle. Attending a yoga class will help you become more aware of your posture, give you insight into your running style and potential ways you can prevent future injuries.
However, if the thought of attending a class isn’t for you, here’s three simple poses that will help stretch the body immediately and bring a greater range of motion to your current post run stretch.
To improve poor posture
Problem: Poor posture and feet issue
Try: Mountain pose
Why: From placement of the feet, tilt of the pelvis, and how shoulders are held you can assess what improvements need be made to your posture and, in turn, how this will have a positive impact on your running style.
- Improves posture – increasing lung capacity and improving overall performance
- Strengthens legs, improves alignment and protects knees
- Strengthens core muscles
- Brings awareness to how feet are and should be used to prevent fallen arches and plantar fasciitis
To loosen tight hip flexors
Problem: Tight back muscles and hip flexors
Try: Downward dog
Why: Knowing what muscles to strengthen and which to stretch out can often depend on your running style. Downward dog is a fantastic posture to do both. Try adapting it to suit your body rather than copying the shape you see will ultimately benefit you more.
- Downward dog is an inversion so it can help calm the mind, reduce stress and improve fatigue
- Energizes the body and stretches the shoulders, back, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
- Strengthens arms, legs and core.
- If hamstrings are very tight bend your knees*
- If hip flexors are tight bend your knees and let them release and lengthen
- If there is low back pain bend your knees and lengthen into tailbone
- If there is an Achilles injury or strain, keep heels lifted or use blocks to support
*legs can be straightened over time but forcing them straight may aggravate other conditions.
To lengthen your stride
Problem: Short stride
Try: Lizard pose into runner’s lunge
Why: Opening the hips along with strengthening and stretching the muscles in the legs will lengthen your stride and boost performance. Alternating between lizard pose and runner’s lunge will work to engage and release these muscle groups.
- stretches the hip flexors, the hamstrings and the quadriceps.
Adapt to suit your body.
- In lizard pose, stay on hands rather than forearms or use blocks for support
- In runner’s lunge if the hamstrings are really tight a slight bend in the knee while still engaging the muscles in the leg.
- if hip flexors are tight a slight bend in the knee to help them release and lengthen
- if you have trouble bringing hands to the floor use blocks for support.
Olwyn Kearns is a yoga teacher and runner who teaches at Yoga Dublin among other places. She’s hosting a Yoga for Runners workshop on Saturday, 20 January in Yoga Dublin Ranelagh. For more information visit yogadublin.ie