A few weeks ago I taught my first Yoga For Runners workshop … I have a great passion for anatomy so having a focus on designing my class as a compliment to such a specific sport was fantastic …
In a nut shell … yoga along side running not only benefits performance but also helps prevent injury. As this was a one off workshop rather than a weekly course I had an all round focus … starting from the head down.. with jaw loosening techniques, shoulder and upper back releases, core strength work and then both leg strengtheners and leg stretches. Finishing with one of the most important releases in the feet! … The level of tension in feet after a run is immense. Be warned not stretching your feet can cause all sorts of mischief to the body.
Of course yoga compliments ALL sports but especially impact sports and where muscles are squished and shortened …stretching out and lengthening these muscles is key to keeping a fresh release of blood supply to specific target areas thus keeping them loose, flexible and in good working order.
Ooooo and also the power of breath work!! In every day life we should breath in and out through the nose… the nose not only filters the air we breathe in but also regulates the temperature of the air, so that its not a shock to your system when you inhale. Breathing through the nose also slows the breath so you can fill the lungs more efficiently. During a gentle jog breathing in and out through the nose if probably best if its not forced… but as your heart rate rises and you start to run faster you start to need a quicker “hit” of oxygen and this is when mouth breathing comes into play. Your lungs won’t fill up quite so much but you will be breathing so much faster that this no longer matters . Also having the mouth slightly open relaxes the jaw and there fore the neck… the shoulders and … down down down the cycle goes through the body.
My favourite runners yoga poses include the following :
Crescent lunge : oooo yes… stretches the quads, hips , lower back, …. Make sure you draw into the top of the back foot to take the pressure out of the knee.
You may be able to come into Lizard pose from here but its not available to everyone !! especially runners who don’t stretch enough.. so try it and see if it is accessible.
Drop back for a half split … ham string stretch …yummy !!
Warriors are fab for strengthening those quads .. you may think that running does this already but … we have 4 quad muscles and one of those muscles is a little harder to strengthen than the others but equally important as it supports your knee cap… warrior poses work this muscle nicely !!!
Finally those Feet!
The soles of your feet between the toes and heels should be stretched after every run to release the soles of the feet especially if you have flat feet ! Tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels.. you can keep the hands on the ground if this is too painful.
The fronts of the feet….ooo yes just as important as important as the soles …. the fronts of the feet work in union with the shins. Lotus or sitting back on the whole of the feet and lifting the knees is a fab way to release the front of the feet (excuse my strange expression in this photo?).
HAPPY DAYS ….HAPPY RUNNERS… lets face it as we get older running can be a real challenge for the body….but if you practise yoga alongside running you will def lengthening your running life.