12 Dec

Cross Over To Better Running - Yoga

runABC looks at the other complementary activities runners should consider to create a more balanced exercise regime, to avoid injury and to, possibly, become a better runner.

Running is a great form of exercise. It’s accessible - shoes on, out the door. It’s flexible - two mile jog to two hour Sunday run. It’s rewarding - nothing quite burns the calories and tones your body.
 
But it is intense - it can take its toll on the muscle groups that bear the brunt of the pressure - knees, calves, hamstrings and hips are in the front line. And many runners are blinkered. We love the call of the pavement or the trail and rarely mix it up.
 
In this short series runABC looks at the other complementary activities runners should consider to create a more balanced exercise regime, to avoid injury and to, possibly, become a better runner. First time round, we look at yoga and examine its cross-training credentials.
 
Why Yoga? 
The strength and flexibility you develop practising yoga - namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors - can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free. Great for stretching tight muscles and improving breathing.
 
The Benefits…
Eases the tension of tight muscles and improves muscle length and toning. Yoga will complement the strength and power running develops, and will assist in maintaining mobility and stability within the joints. Yoga also works to still the mind and helps us to relax during and post-run.  
 
Getting Started…
Look around for a ‘yoga for runners’ class or workshop in your area. This will focus on the poses most beneficial to runners. However talking to the instructor at a generic class is a good idea. There are also a number of excellent DVDs introducing runners to yoga.
 
Best Moves …
 
Most of us have heard of ‘downward dog’ - good for lengthening, strengthening, and opening the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings. 
 
 
'Tree Pose' is a good pose for runners because it emphasises balance, strength and flexibility together. 
 
 
‘Child’s pose’ is a mild stretch for the lower body. You should feel lengthening through the back and stretching in the hips, thighs, ankles and feet. 
 
 
These images are strictly for illustration - contact a local yoga practitioner for instruction on these and other moves
 
Extra benefits:
Incorporating a post-run mini yoga routine can help rebuild your range of motion by easing tension and reducing muscle soreness. Also yoga helps with muscle toning so a firmer (more attractive?) body. This is just a flavour of numerous yoga poses. Find a class and explore the full range and the benefits they bring.
 
For more information check out Christine Felstead’s comprehensive book ‘Yoga For Runners’ at humankinetics.com