Rock-hard calf muscles, weak glutes, tight hamstrings — do these seem all too familiar? Believe it or not, they are regular terms in most runners’ vocabulary. But you can overcome these roadblocks (pun intended!) and, as a result, avoid common running injuries with yoga. Many stellar runners, including elite marathoners and ultra runners, swear by yoga to improve their running performance. Some even go on to say that yoga improves their lives.
Here are some simple yoga poses you can squeeze into your stretching and recovery routine. You’ll love the effect these have on you and your running even if you think you are not a “yoga person”!
1. Low lunge or anjaneyasana
Benefits: Strengthens hamstrings, quads, and groin; stretches the hip flexors; relieves lower body soreness; therapeutic for sciatica
2. Pigeon pose or eka pada rajakapotasana
Benefits: Releases tightness and tension in the hips; reduces lower back strain; reduces sciatica symptoms
3. Reclining spinal twist or supta matsyendrasana
Benefits: Stretches the glutes; relaxes the lower back; lengthens and relaxes the spine
4. Downward dog or adho mukha svanasana
Benefits: Stretches calves, hamstrings, and arches; strengthens legs, arms, and shoulders
5. Upward dog or urdhva mukha svanasana
Benefits: Strengthens the spine and arms; improves posture; strengthens; relieves fatigue and sciatica pain
6. Butterfly pose or baddha konasana
Benefits: Relieves tension in leg muscles; improves hip flexibility; stretches the groin and inner thighs
7. Bridge pose or setu bandha sarvangasana
Benefits: Strengthens glutes, back, legs, and ankles; relaxes and re-energises tired legs; stretches the spine
Yoga is a great activity for recovery after a run. It releases tension from the muscles after the hard work you put in pounding the pavement, relieves soreness, and prepares your body to run better when you lace up the next time. But the benefit of yoga for runners is not limited to injury prevention. It also helps you improve your running performance.