Yoga for Runners?

If you are a runner and you aren't doing yoga as part of your weekly routine, you might want to reconsider.

Injuries are a runner's nemesis. But anyone who has run for any length of time knows they are also part of the gig. If you run, you will have injuries. Injury prevention becomes a lesson learned methodology. If we overtrain, we get injuries, so we learn to take breaks, ease our mileage up and cross train. If we don't stretch we find our muscles stay tight and pull against one another causing injuries that take time (weeks sometimes) to recover.

As we age, our flexibility naturally diminishes. I have had my share of running injuries in my 34 years of running. I have learned how to prevent many of them. Suddenly I am riddled with plantar faciitis, old Achilles injuries, and hamstring tweaks. It was time to acknowledge that despite the fact that I feel 35, my body is 48 and just not as young, and flexible as it used to be.  I decided it was finally time to look at yoga as a means of easing some of my ailments. After some research, these are some poses recommended for runners to help with running efficiency and injury prevention.

Since I am not a yoga expert (a yogi) I have included both images of the poses and a video that will walk you through the poses to ensure you are performing each move correctly.

Like any  exercise you undertake, don't attempt without clearance from your doctor. Follow the steps and adhere to the cautions you receive. Even though it is low impact, injuries can occur if improper technique is used.

 

8 Poses to Try:

 

 

Downward Dog:

 

  (photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

 

This pose is a standing, mild inversion, stretching pose. Stretches and strengthens the whole body. Can help with back pain.  This pose is one of the first poses you will encounter when learning yoga. It is also a great transition pose so you will use it many times through a yoga routine. It is an easy pose to do and will stretch you out all over.  watch video now

 

Tree Pose: 

 (photo credit: © Samiramay, Dreamstime.com)

This pose is a balancing standing pose.  Strengthens legs, and tendons in the feet and improves balance. Balance is important to runners. As we encounter bumps, dips and uneven trails, we struggle to keep our balance, our center of gravity upright to prevent lurching forward and finding ourselves sprawled out on the pavement (trust me when I say this is something to seriously avoid). In addition, our bodies will try to correct and adjust our balance in these situations. These adjustments can cause injuries, a bad word to runners. This article from Active.com explains the importance of balance to runners.  watch video now

 

Triangle Pose:

 (photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

 

This is a standing pose. It strengthens the legs, stretches the groins, hamstrings, and hips, and opens the chest and shoulders. Tight hamstrings can be a sideliner for any runner. Let's face it, we need our hamstrings to run. Pulled hamstrings are a very common injury that can wreck your training plans. Hamstring injuries can begin at work, while you are innocently sitting at your desk. Sitting at your desk, or spending lots of time driving or flying can cause your leg to sit in a shortened position with your knees bent.   watch video now

 

Forward Fold: 

(photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

This pose is a forward bend pose. Stretches and lengthens the hamstrings. This article does a great job explaining how our hamstring issues begin and what we can do about it.  watch video now

 

Pyramid Pose:

 

    (photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

This is a standing, bending forward pose. Stretches and strengthens the legs, especially the hamstrings.  watch video now

 

Half Lord of the Fishes Twist:

  (photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

This is a seated twist pose. Opens the shoulders, neck and hips while stretching the spine. The hip is vital to every runner. Every stride requires your hip joint to pull forward. Every time you plant your foot, your hip feels it. Keeping that joint loose is vital to injury prevention.    watch video now

 

Hero Pose   

(photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

 This is a seated pose. It stretches the thighs and ankles and improves posture. Warning on this pose: watch your knees. If you need to you can sit on a yoga block to ease any knee discomfort.  watch video now

Pigeon Pose:  

  (photo credit: © Fizkes, Dreamstime.com)

This pose is an excellent pose for opening up the hips. It helps increase the external range of motion in the hip socket, as well as lengthen the hip flexor. This is especially helpful in preventing Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IBS). Stretching exercises for the muscles on the outside of the hip in particular are important. The tensor fascia latae muscle is the muscle at the top of the IT band and if this is tight then it can cause the band to be tight increasing the friction on the side of the knee.

Using this pose, you can help increase flexibility in the hips.  watch video now