08 Jul Yoga For Runners
Running is an exercise that can be particularly hard on your body. The pressure is put on your joints from your shoulders and spine through to your hips and ankles is not to be ignored, but it is also something that we are designed to do and our body is meant to have the ability to run. However a stiff, inflexible body is going to have a completely different experience to one that gas length and mobility. In fact just recently I had one of my best feelings ever in my run. My body felt athletic and springy. I could feel all my muscles, achilles, joints and ligaments all working amazing and the run just felt unreal.This is because in the last few months I have been putting alot of effort into my mobility, stretching and yoga. Compare that to my body when I have been sitting at a desk all day, its a completely different experience. My body feels heavy, unbalanced and all my sliding surfaces feel sticky and glued together. Not nice!
Yoga for runners can provide a good stretch, but regular practice offers a whole lot more than increased range of motion in our joints of our hips and legs. I want to share with you a few of the benefits yoga can have on runners in the hope it makes you consider the practice as part of your fitness regime.
1. Lengthens and strengthens
The most obvious way that yoga could benefit a runner is that it focuses on stretching and lengthening muscles. In the process they become more supple and stiffness is reduced. Not only that, it increases the mobility of the legs and helps. The greater the mobility, the longer the leg muscles, particularly the hamstrings and the longer and more fluid your running stride will be.
2. Builds upper body strength
Many runners tend to focus on the strength of their legs to improve their athletic performance. How you move your arms, the strength of your core and your posture has in incredible impact on your speed, distance and risk of injury. Yoga strengthens your arm, shoulder and back muscles as well as builds a strong, stable core. This will help stabilize the skeleton resulting in greater balance and speed.
3. Heals and avoids injuries
Improving your alignment and balance can prevent injuries and help heal those niggling ones that just don’t seem to go away. Many runners become numb to the aches and pains and accept them as just a part of the daily life of a runner. The poses practiced in yoga will help align the knee joints as well as strengthen the arches of the feet. This will protect the body and provide better shock absorption as you run. This was certainly the case for my reoccurring knee problem!
4. Aids recovery
When we run, lactic acid builds up in our muscle tissue resulting in stiffness. I’m sure you are all too familiar with the stiffness in your legs when you get out of bed the morning after a big run. Practicing yoga after your run can help eliminate this stiffness. Even just a short 15 minute session can make a huge difference. For those of you who take on the long distances such as a marathon, you can help improve your recovery by taking a yoga class the day after the race.
5. Improves our breathing
Beginner runners are not the only ones who have experienced trouble controlling their breathing or a stitch sensation as a result of a lack of oxygen. It’s natural for our breathing to change from being controlled to rapid and shallow when we are under physical stress. A huge part of yoga is to practice maintaining a long, steady breath throughout the entire practice. You learn to breathe through physical strain with control which can be helpful in keeping that stitch at bay.
6. Builds mental focus
The mental focus you gain through regular practice of yoga can help those leisurely weekend joggers to marathon runners. So often we are focused on the distance or the time. Yoga helps you focus on the practice not the outcome. As a runner you can control how often you train, what you put in your body and your mental focus. You can’t control if you are going to win or if the conditions are going to be perfect. Rather than getting so wrapped up in the end result and the goal, yoga helps us focus on the process of getting there.
Yoga can help you learn about your body. It can help you learn to listen to how it feels and discover how with an increased range of movement you perform better. Increased mobility will lead to increased speed and endurance. Mental strength will result in improved performances and giving back to your muscles and joints will aid in your recovery. So what do you say, time to roll out that mat and join me?
Check out out online gym, we have over 100 yoga workouts you can do in your living room including our online yoga retreat that we do once a year. Along with that core workouts, HIIT routines, mobility work and so much more. A complete tool to help you excel and take your running to another level.