Running is a very popular pastime for many people, and why wouldn’t it be? Running is a relatively cheap sport, you can do it at your own pace, and you can do it in groups or on your own! Running is one of the very few sports that athletes can be very selective about in regards to how they do it.
Running is very beneficial to our health. Not only can it make you happier, but it can also help us maintain a healthy weight, improve our joints and muscles, and get us outside! However, running can sometimes cause sore muscles, tightness, cramping and injury. Practicing a diligent warmup and cool down routine is very beneficial to anyone who runs, regardless of how frequently.
Another great habit to start practicing alongside your running is yoga, which can help to relax the muscles, stretch out tight areas, and help our bodies come back down.
If you’re new to yoga, here are 3 yoga poses that are perfect for runners:
- Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
When we think about running, we tend to think about our feet, but there is so much more to it than that! For this yoga pose, runners will feel the stretch in their hips and hamstrings.
Individuals should stand with their legs a little bit further than shoulder-width apart. Turn your heels slightly outward, so that your feet point slightly inward. Breathing in, reach your arms out to the sides to form a capital letter “T” and inhale. Exhale as you slowly begin to fold forward, bringing your hands to the floor. (You can also use a yoga block if you’d like). Make sure that your spine is straight, and your head is hanging downward.
After 4-5 breaths, use your ab muscles to slowly roll your body up again to an upright position. Bring your feet together, and repeat as necessary. Remember that your knees should never be fully-locked; keep them slightly bent throughout.
- Figure 4 Pose
This yoga pose is fairly popular, as it hits a lot of spots and is fairly easy to do. This pose will help to open up and stretch the outer hips, as well as the inner thighs.
Begin by lying on your mat, with your abs working to press your back into the mat. Bring both knees up to your chest so that they form a 90-degree angle. (Use a mirror if you need guidance). Lift your right leg and place your ankle on top of your left thigh. Lace your fingers together and wrap them around the left thigh, and gently pull toward your chest.
The shape of your legs should look like the number 4 if you’re doing it correctly. Stay in this position for 4-5 breaths, and flex the foot to feel more of a stretch if necessary. Those with knee problems can ease the ankle of the “4 shape” for comfort.
- Seated Forward Fold
This stretch can be difficult for some individuals, so be sure to pay attention to how your body feels and ease up to avoid over stretching. This yoga pose will help to elongate the spine and stretch the hamstrings and back.
Sit on your mat with your legs out straight in front of you. Tighten your stomach muscles to give yourself some added support. Sit up tall and inhale, while raising your arms up to the ceiling. As you breathe out, slowly start to lean forward and use your arms to reach for your toes.
If you can, allow your arms to rest on your thighs, ankles, or shins, depending on your level of flexibility. Every time you breathe in, try to stretch a little bit further to elongate the spine even more. While running, the constant pounding of feet to pavement may shorten the spine, which is why this yoga pose can be very beneficial. Stay here as long as you’re comfortable, to get the best stretch possible, and feel free to wiggle your legs and flex your feet to get that extra stretch in.
For runners, the movements that you do before and after a run are just as important as doing the actual activity. If you are new to yoga, there are lots of yoga accessories available that can help you gradually become more comfortable and more flexible in each position.
If you’re looking for more ways to assist the different body parts that you use while running, consider braces optimal for running to protect and prevent injuries from occurring. Even if you don’t need a supportive brace, these yoga stretches will help keep active and healthy.