Is it important for runners to do yoga? The simple answer is yes, but for the more intelligent runner, the bigger question is what are the direct benefits, if any, to their running.
Actually, there’s a very good reason why elite athletes and runners are turning to the simple dynamics of yoga to boost their preparation, training, balance and mental well-being. Yoga not only strengthens your core, but makes you more balanced and fortifies your feet and ankles. The flexibility in your joints and muscles make your running posture that much more compact, and will definitely give you great stability in the landing and lift-off positions, something which many new runners get wrong.
Here are some basic stretches that might be especially beneficial for runners. For this you will need a yoga strap, to be able to reach your ankles/feet better. Do these yoga poses to stretch muscles after your runs, and soon you will find your body more eager to take on long runs.
Sit on the floor with your back in a naturally upright position. Wrap the yoga strap to the ball of your foot and push the heel up. This pose uses the starting position of a Janu Sirsasana (nose-to-knee pose), but we don’t bend forward and instead get a nice deep stretch of the inner calf.
IT band/glute stretch
Take the strap in your left hand, and wrap it around the midfoot area of your left leg. Now slowly draw the leg across the body, while keep the band taut. Lower gradually and repeat 5-10 times on one leg before switching
Adductor (inner thigh) stretch
Lie on your back and take the strap in your right hand, and tuck it around the midfoot area of your right foot. Open the leg out to the right, and feel the band tightening. Stay in the open part of the stretch for 30 seconds or 5 deep breaths. Then repeat on the other leg.
Yoga has many styles and usually runners choose a style that is fast and dynamic. But the type of yoga you choose should depend on the intensity of training and should complement it, rather than mirror it.
If you are running long or hard three or four times a week, it would be advised that you choose a gentler style such as Hatha or Iyengar yoga as it will allow much-needed time for muscular release and physical downtime. If you are running less and need to build strength, a stronger class, such as Ashtanga, will be best suited for you.
So, go ahead, sign up for a few yoga classes, see how your runs improver over a few weeks, and then decide which style is best suited for you.
Main Image: JP Bland | Yoga for Runners – Bloomsbury Publishing