Yoga for Runners
The conditioning needs for runners can vary greatly. Depending on the type of running, you may require a more intense warm up or pre-workout regimen. For example, trail runners may need additional flexibility. There is one form of conditioning that can help any type of runner. Yoga for runners helps not only to warm up prior to a run but also to relax and reduce pain after a run.
Yoga for runners can incorporate a variety of different poses and techniques. In all cases, you should pay close attention to your breathing rhythm and stay as relaxed as possible for each pose. Know your body limits and only stretch as much as is comfortable for you. The following are some pose and movement examples that can help all types of runners:
• Downward facing dog – place hands and knees on the ground. Lift the knees as you straighten your legs with buttocks in the air. Straighten the arms and legs, gradually pressing the heels toward the ground. Breathe gently in and out during the pose. This creates a strong stretch that helps the leg and back muscles.
• Upward facing dog – you can transition from downward facing dog into this pose by lowering your back and buttocks gently to the ground, eventually lying flat with arms bent. Straighten the arms as you bend upward, looking up with your head and neck. Keep your hips on the ground as you stretch. This pose helps the back muscles and hip flexors.
• Bound angle pose – while sitting on the ground bring the soles of your feet together. Gently pull your heels towards your body while straightening your back. Hold the pose and breathe deeply. You can also grasp your feet or ankles and use your elbows to press your thighs toward the ground. This stretches the knee and hip joints while also helping the leg and back muscles.
• Head to knee pose – while on the ground stretch one leg to be straight while bringing the heel of the opposite foot toward your body, bending the opposite leg. Lean forward reaching both hands toward the outstretched leg to grasp the foot. Gently stretch and bend your head towards your knee while breathing deeply. Switch to the opposite leg and perform the same pose. Virtually all leg muscles are stretched along with the back, shoulders, and neck.
Keep in mind that yoga is helpful as part of your pre-race warm-up to awaken muscles and prepare them for the activity. Yoga for runners is also helpful after the race to alleviate pain and relax the muscles that may have become tense.
Runners can be prone to a number of different injuries including strains, sprains, and back pain. The stress from running can take its toll on joints and muscles, so knee injuries, pulled muscles, back problems, and other types of muscle pain are very common for runners.