Up to 80% of runners find themselves with injuries each year and many of those injuries result from incorrect or insufficient stretching. Yoga is a great flexibility exercise and a perfect cross-training activity for injury prevention in runners.
Experienced and beginner runners alike know the importance of flexibility when running. More agile limbs can take longer strides and the body’s flow is always better when you are feeling limber.
Post-run yoga works to increase flexibility and relieve tension in the body
Injuries are never a simple fix – especially injuries incurred when exercising. While pain many be centralised, groups of muscles working on other groups of muscles leads to prolonged pain and the possibility of extra rest days. Post-run yoga works to stretch out the tension that builds in muscles naturally during a run, and protects you from injury. When the soft tissues relax, the prolonged tension is reduced and prevents numerous minor, and sometime very major, injuries before they are even the tiniest twinge.
End your run with a sound body, and a sound mind too
Yoga has also been clinically proven to reduce stress and relieve psychological tension too. Runners who practised a post-run yoga regime reported lowered stress and injuries, and higher moods in general. Yoga builds strength and endurance in addition to flexibility and, because breathing control is also part of practising yoga, yoga increases the maximum oxygen uptake runners can manage during their runs.
Great yoga positions for runners
Head to Knee Stretch
Sit with your legs outstretch before you, toes facing upwards. Bring your left foot to a flat position towards your right inner thigh, your knee facing away from your body at a 90 degree angle. Centre your torso over your (still extended) right leg and exhale as you lower your torso towards the ground; face positioned looking at your thigh. Reach for your toes. Allow your body to extend as you inhale and sink lower as you exhale. Inhale as you roll up gradually. Repeat with your right foot and left thigh.
Quads and Ankles
Kneel with your knees together but your feet apart so that your bottom can rest on the floor. Roll your calves from your thighs until you are comfortable and hold this pose.
Hips and Thighs
From the Hero Pose, stretch forwards and lower to the floor. Your belly should fall between your thighs and your forehead will reach towards the mat or floor. Reach your hands out forwards to stretch your back lengthways and stretch your hands facing behind you, along your sides, to stretch between your shoulder blades.
Post-run yoga is simple, effective and will keep you safe and pushing yourself further and faster in no time. Remember to let yourself become calm as you practise these poses and stretches.