YOGA PRACTICE FOR RUNNERS
Yoga,they say is very complementary to running and that the runners should include atleast twice a week yoga practice in their routine.Because YOGA improves their form and balance and decrease their susceptibility to overuse, injuries of the lower extremities, including plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral (knee) pain, IT band syndrome and trochanteric bursitis (hip pain). Yoga also improves their focus before and during the race, when mental staying power is as important as physical endurance.
During the course of an average mile run, your foot will strike the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your weight. It’s not surprising, then, to hear runners complain of bad backs and knees, tight hamstrings, and sore feet.
A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system.
The below mentioned yoga poses will help the runners not only to run but also will prevent them to be sidelined by injuries and discomfort brought on by your running program. Chronic injuries can eventually self-correct through a gentle yet consistent yoga practice. Remember, your body is on your side. It has an inherent intelligence to bring about a state of equilibrium no matter how many times your feet hit the pavement.
“The most common issues for runners are shin splits, knee and foot problems, and IT-band syndrome so poses that are going to lengthen, strengthen, and open the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings are recommended.” Downward Dog does a lot of that, in addition to opening the arms and upper back, she says—which also tend to get tight after long stretches of repetitive forward-and-backward swinging. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch.
Runners often have very strong legs but weak upper bodies including the core and arms, which may hurt their performance. Practicing an upper-body yoga sequence can help build strength in these neglected areas, she says. From Downward Dog, move into plank (or high push-up) position, lower halfway to a low push-up, and then roll over your toes and arch your chest upward into a backbend for Upward Dog.
Any pose that involves reaching for your toes is great for stretching your hamstrings and calves, pulling up on your toes can also stretch your arch and your IT band—a perpetually tight muscle in runners that travels from the hip to the outer knee. Harrison likes to do both standing and seated forward folds after a run. For the best stretch when seated, hinge at the waist and reach as far you can with a straight back before folding over your legs. If you can’t touch your toes when standing, bend your knees slightly or stand with your feet slightly apart, or place your palms on your calves.
Sitting in Cobbler pose (also known as Bound Angle pose), with the soles of your feet touching and your knees wide apart, opens the lower back, hips and inner thighs, especially when you fight the urge to hurry through your routine and hold it for several minutes at a time. If your hips or groin feel too tight to sit up straight or to bring your heels in close to your pelvis, sit on a block or a blanket. Don’t force your knees down to the ground, but let them drop naturally so you feel a gentle stretch.
This pose is great for improve the range-of-motion and flexibility in your hips, which will in turn lead to better running form. For this stretch, lie on your back with your knees bent, and cross your left ankle over your right quad. Gently pull your legs toward you for a stretch in your left glute and hamstring, then repeat on the other side.
Backbends help open the shoulders and the front of the body, and also strengthens the core. “They’re good counterposes to running, because the longer we run the more we tend to hunch forward.” Lift your hips up toward the sky and try to keep your body in a straight line with your core engaged. To open your chest even further, clasp your hands together underneath your pelvis and try to roll your shoulder blades toward each other
“Running is all forward and backward, and there’s not a lot of turning or swiveling or lateral movement,” says Harrison. “You’re essentially stuck in the same position for however many miles you’re going.” Twists can help loosen and lengthen the spine, and can ease a stiff neck and shoulders after a long run. You can do a basic twist while sitting Indian style—or, try Half Lord of the Fishes pose: Cross one leg over the other, knee pointed toward the sky and the sole of your foot on the ground. Reach your opposite arm across your body and push it against the outside of your thigh, near your knee, to deepen the twist.
Low lunges are a great way to start your yoga practice, because they get your whole body engaged,” says Harrison. “They also force you to practice your balance, which is an important skill for runners.” Lunges stretch out both the front and the back of the legs, open the hips, and strengthen the core. To take a low lunge even further, drop down onto your elbows in Lizard pose. This position works all kinds of muscle groups — thighs, groin, abs — and improves flexibility in the split-legged position that’s similar to a running stride.
Balancing on one leg is great for athletes—runners especially. “The more you can strengthen your legs and improve your balance, the less likely you are to twist an ankle or fall down when you’re on a trail or any type of uneven ground.” To master Tree pose, fix your gaze on an object in the distance—whether it’s the horizon line or a spot on your studio wall. Once you’re able to stand in Tree for 30 seconds to a minute, make it harder by practicing with your eyes closed.
This type of twist can be really difficult for runners because their hips and glutes are so tight—but it can also be extremely beneficial for the same reasons. If moving into Triangle pose causes pain in your outer hip, she adds, try resting your arm on a block instead of the floor. No matter what sequence of poses you do, Harrison adds, remember that your breath is also important—both on the mat and on the track. “If you can practice lengthening and evening out your breath while you’re stretching, it will also transfer to smoother, calmer breathing while you run.
Also called the Garland Pose, the squat in yoga isn’t all that different from the one you’ve done at the gym, form-wise. To get into the position, squat with your knees over your toes — legs at a 45-degree angle from the midline — and hold your hands together like you’re praying. The heels don’t necessarily need to touch the ground. Hold for five to 10 breaths. The squat stretches the back, inner thighs, calves and feet — everything that tightens up from running.
Despite its unfortunate name, the locust is a simple and essential pose for distance runners. To do it, lay on your stomach with your hands by the hips, then lift your torso, arms, and legs simultaneously. Hold this for five to 10 breaths and repeat three times.
It’s not as easy as it looks. This position strengthens the muscles in your neck, back, and the backs of the arms and legs. You’ll find that it improves your posture, especially toward the end of a marathon-length run, when those core support muscles start to give way. Plus, you’ll have a little more protection from lower back injuries that start to plague us mostly in our thirties.
The boat might feel familiar if you’ve done crunch variations. It’s arguably more difficult, though, if you focus on form and not just scorching the core. To get there, sit with the knees and ankles together, then lift your legs and arms into a V position. Hold for five to 15 breaths and repeat three times. We’ve always found it difficult to know if we’re balancing on the right part of the seat: What you’re aiming for is the triangle formed by your sit bones (the bones that support you on a bike saddle) and tailbone.
The important thing with the boat is to keep your back long and straight, strengthening the core and the hip flexors, which are hard to target but get hammered during runs.
Yoga’s internal focus centers your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.
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ANAHATA YOGA ZONE