Yoga Poses Every Runner Should Do For Better Performance
02 January 2017
Yoga routine is good for runners as it releases the tight spots that running can create, and help to develop deeper core strength which will keep you safe while running.
Exercising through running helps your body aerobically as it aims at cardiovascular health, losing weight, and gaining muscular strength. However, running exercise can be difficult on joints, ligaments, and muscles. Here is where the exercising yoga before and after running comes in to help stay less prone to injuries and stay flexible.
Yoga routine is good for runners as it releases the tight spots that running can create, and help to develop deeper core strength which will keep you safe while running. The following poses will help any runner stretch out the sore legs, relax the upper and lower back, and open the hips.
Try including these poses into your training plans
1. Head To Knee Pose
This pose a forward bend with a complex twist that offers the opportunity to stretch your back of the feet and the spine.
- Sit in the Easy pose, stretch the right leg out in front of you, and place the heel of the left foot on the right thigh. Make a square with the hips and stretch the right foot to the front.
- Breathe in, stretch the arms up to lengthening the spine and touch the waist.
- Breathe out as you maintain the length. Place the head on the knee by folding the right knee enough to intertwine the fingers around the leg.
- Push the head down into the knee and slide the bottom of the right leg away. Have the head held to the knee while stretching the leg as much as possible. To make the deeper stretch in the foot, push the heel away and draw your toes towards the head.
- Relax the face, neck, and shoulders. Shoulders should be parallel to the floor. The hands should control the head and knee in contact.
- Inhale and maintain for 3-6 breaths.
- To free the pose: lift the hands up over the head, then place them on the floor. Do it on the other side.
2. Half Frog Pose:
The pose resembles frog hence the name. The pose is simple to adjust which suits the standards of your exercise.
- Lay flat on your stomach, press your hands into the floor and lift the head and the body.
- Bend the right foot knee and push the bottom of the right leg towards your right buttock. Pass the right-hand backward to lock the leg. The fingers and the toes should face in the same direction.
- Lean the elbow towards the ceiling.
- Press the foot towards the buttock as much as you can and make sure you are comfortable when doing this. Level the shoulders to be even. Support yourself using your forearm and elbow rather than using the hand.
- Stay in this position for about 5 deep breaths or a minute.
3. Cat Or Cow Pose
This position helps to counter the tightening of the upper body while running as it brings movement between extension and flexion of the spine.
- Press the hands and the knees on the ground. The wrists and knees should be slant below the shoulders and hips respectively. Begin on a normal spine pose. Breathe in to engage the abs and to make the back straight.
- Exhale, elevate the spine up towards the roof, lift the abdomen towards the spine, and engage the abs. Drop the button jaw towards the chest and loosen the neck. This pose is shaped like a cat.
- Bend the back to breathe in and relax the stomach. Elevate the head towards the roof without forcing the neck unnecessarily. This pose is shaped like a Cow.
- Change the pose from Cat Position to Cow Position, while equating breaths to each move.
- Repeat this for at least ten times, or up to when the spine is fully warmed up.
4. Squat Pose:
This pose may be the hardest of all for runners with tight hips even though it is necessary as it opens the hamstrings, in the IT band, and hips flexors.
- Start in mountain pose with the feet and hips width apart. The toes should point out slightly and draw the arms to the chest.
- Squat down by bending the knees slowly and carefully to avoid spreading the knees forward beyond the level of the feet.
- Squat down as much as you can and grid the shoulders in the knees. Use the elbows to force the back towards the inner knees and maintain the feet flat on the floor, back straight and the arms still on the chest.
- To release; you can either sit on the ground and then stand, or through pushing down the thighs and stand up, or support yourself using hands by stretching them forward and out on the ground.
5. Downward Facing Dog Pose:
The position opens feet, hamstrings, Achilles, IT band, and calves as it improves upper body strength and flexibility.
- Station the wrists parallel with the mat.
- Press back the hips, armpits, and palms, sit bones, fingers, and press down and forward.
- The thumb and forefinger space should stay level.
- Raise the feet distance to that of hip and press shoulders backward.
- The lower rib cage should be pulled in slightly to avoid over-extension and to it should remain engaged.
- Eyes to stare at the stomach, feet and knees
Before or after running, incorporating the above poses into your regular exercising will help you prevent injury, develop strength and loosen up muscles. It is also a way to prepare and cross-train the body for various exercises sessions.
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Emily is the founder of GoAheadRunner.com, see her full bio below.