Often when we think of yoga, images of stretching, meditating, or even awkward gumby-like poses come to mind. As a runner, we thrive on forward motion and the thought of sitting still to stretch with a bunch of “flexible people” is not so appealing. And besides that, it’s unrealistic for many runners to take an hour long yoga class several days a week when we’re logging dozens of miles prepping for fall race season.
Yet you keep hearing the long list of benefits that come with practicing yoga regularly… racing injury free and pain free, running faster, longer and stronger, and recovering faster.
The good news is frequency and consistency is more important than duration. Meaning, if you take 5 – 10 minutes to incorporate yoga before and after your runs each week (a total of 45 – 75 minutes a week) you will be well on your way to feeling the benefits of yoga!
Yes, you can do yoga with your sneakers on, especially if you’re doing it on location immediately before or after your run. Doing yoga in your bare feet is ultimately the ideal way to practice, because taking care of your foundation – your feet – is key to peak performance and injury prevention.
Most athletes already know to stretch after their run, when muscles are warm and pliable. And that static stretching (holding a yoga pose or stretch for 30 seconds or more) before a run can actually have a negative affect on your performance. So, save the static stretching for post run and consider adding a dynamic yoga sequence before your run!
Studies show that a dynamic stretch routine (like the short yoga inspired Sun Salutation sequence in the video link below) will improve range of motion and running stride and loosen up muscles so you can run more efficiently.
This pre run routine targets many of the muscles used for running: calf muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings plus it incorporates upper body and core strength as well as alignment and good posture.
Before your next run, try this 4 minute yoga inspired dynamic “Sun Salutation” to warm up… http://youtu.be/ceJlu0jiW4M
- If you don’t have a yoga mat, just use a non-slip surface.
- Move slowly and deliberately, listening to your body and focusing on alignment.
- Dynamic stretching should not feel forced – Doing so will only tighten the muscles and may result in injury.
- Focus on full diaphragmatic breathing to prepare and open the body and calm the mind.
- Practice this sequence 3 to 5 times a week or before each run. Try repeating the sequence 3x for 3 sets on each side, which should take about 10 minutes.
Karen Dubs is the creator of the Flexible Warrior Yoga for Sports DVD series and trains a wide range of athletes from professional and college football and basketball players to recreational golfers, triathletes and marathon runners. More info at www.flexiblewarrior.com