Gain Length. Add Strength. Run Faster.
“I need to stretch more.”
We hear this daily in the clinic. Nearly every runner knows that they need to stretch. Runners know that preventing injury is the name of the game and that stretching can help them go faster and for longer distances. Unfortunately, many of us just quickly do a handful of hasty “stretches” right before taking off. Good enough, right?
Using a regular yoga routine for runners can deepen and improve one’s understanding of which stretches are important, but it’s also essential for many other aspects of improving your running. At RunSmart Online, we have developed a running and yoga schedule specifically to help runners tackle some of these common muscle imbalances due to tightness and weakness.
Four Reasons to Add Yoga
Stop the Third-Mile Hunch
When you neglect to work on building your core, you’ll have a lot of difficulty with using a proper running posture throughout your entire run. Hunched and forward-curling, many runners slog through their miles, and it always leads to stiffness and slowness. Hunching significantly changes your running, from limiting your breath to changing your leg mechanics. The result is simple: slower running. Often, runners are laser-focused on running only, but they forget how poor running form, partially due to a “flabby” core, can weigh them down in their run.
Several yoga moves and poses build core strength, allowing you to keep good running form, including bridges, upward-facing dog, planks, chaturangas, and many others. Backbends are among the best yoga poses for runners to practice regularly, particularly for those who sit all day at work.
Improve Balance and Control
Besides contributing to strength training for your core, certain runner-specific yoga stretches can improve mobility in areas that even intermediate and advanced runners often ignore. A lack of lateral movement during running means that lower parts of the body such as the inner thighs can be ignored, too. The end result is muscle imbalance.
Neglecting movements outside of the forward motion found in running is disastrous. It often leads to poor balance and a muscle imbalance that translates to higher injury rates and slower running. Including yoga in your training program addresses is the fix. For instance, the warrior and triangle poses build strength by zeroing in on muscles that are neglected while you run but are still important.
Control Your Breath and Get in the Zone
While we at RunSmart Online don’t go nuts with the “om” chanting, there is something to be said about the breath control and meditation aspects of yoga. For runners, practicing proper breath control, which is central to yoga and not necessarily to just stretching, can have a profound impact on your running in the long term. And yoga can be a soothing cool-down routine for when you want to enjoy those sweet, sweet endorphins!
Soothe and Strengthen Hamstrings, Quads, and Calves
For runners, some tissues are far too easy to injure. That’s why we insist on runner-specific yoga stretches for those who are trying to prevent injury. Be nicer to the muscles you use the most!
Overused muscles can get tight, and no one likes tight calves. If you’re a runner with doubts about yoga’s effectiveness, just ease into a classic downward-facing dog position to soothe your aching calves and you’ll understand the value of yoga for runners. Stretching out on off days is a perfect form of active recovery.
Become Stronger Faster
So which poses should you use when trying to integrate yoga into your running schedule? When should you practice yoga as opposed to run? Which strategies should you use to keep an injury-free routine?
We’ve done a lot of the work already by creating 12 workouts to be performed twice a week for six weeks, with thorough instructions for building a stronger running performance. No experience with yoga is necessary. Buy our RunSmart Yoga program online now, or sign up to start streaming it online today for only a dollar!