If you’re a runner, chances are you’ve heard about the importance of stretching. Some of the supposed benefits of stretching include improved flexibility, range of motion, and a more efficient stride when running. For many of these same reasons, yoga can be an excellent addition to a runner’s training regimen.
Yoga contains both dynamic and static stretching. When you move through a sequence of poses, gently increasing your range of motion as you go, you’re obtaining the benefits of dynamic stretching. By holding a pose, your muscles are working to support you against static resistance, which builds strength. With longer holds, you not only obtain the benefits of stretching your muscles, but also of stretching the connective tissue between your muscles known as fascia.
Yoga isn’t just about stretching your body, it’s also spiritual. While there are many different types of yoga, there is often emphasis on breath, focus, and calming the mind – all of which come into play in running!
Now that you know some of the benefits of yoga, here are a few simple poses that you can begin incorporating into your regular training routine! (Many thanks to my running buddy and fellow yogi, my mom, for posing for these photos!)
1. Pigeon Pose
This pose stretches a lot of important muscles for runners that can be prone to injury – the glutes, hip rotators, and the IT band. Plus, it just feels great after a long run!
To get into the pose, start on your hands and knees, then put your left knee behind your left hand and your left foot in front of your right hip. Lower yourself down, leaning forward so that you are resting on either your palms or forearms, depending on your flexibility.
2. Bridge Pose
Have you ever found yourself hunching forward at the end of a particularly hard run? That may be because your back muscles need strengthening. Repeating this pose several times will work your glutes and hamstrings as well as the muscles in your back, leaving you balanced and stronger for your next run.
Begin laying down on your mat. Bend your knees, placing your feet directly below them. Press into your feet and slowly lift up. Hold for several breaths, then slowly lower yourself back down, from the top of your spine down. (See main photo for reference).
3. Downward-Facing Dog (or Down Dog)
This stretch feels incredible for your hamstrings. The pose will also help stabilize your shoulders.
Start on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and lift up so that the balls of your feet are pressed into the floor and straighten your legs. Try to align your back, neck, and arms. Try alternating the stretch between your legs by relaxing one calf at a time, while you press the opposite heel to the floor.
Nora began blogging after she and her mother ran their first half marathon in 2012. They loved the experience so much, they decided they would make it their goal to run a half marathon (or marathon) in every state. You can read about their journey and progress on Nora's blog 2 Generations Running.