Runners are required to be very determined and disciplined individuals as much preparation goes into training for a marathon or race. Runners need to eat properly, get enough sleep, drink plenty of fluids, add cross training and foam rolling in their training schedule and remember to properly stretch. This is why Yoga is an ideal practice for runners. Yoga can help runners increase flexibility, expand lung capacity, boost focus for discipline and endurance and help alleviate injuries. So, here are 5 yoga poses a runner should integrate into their daily training regimen.
Bound Angle Pose
This pose is easy to get into and is great for stretching out the inner groin, thighs, ankles, hips, and lower back. Begin in a seated position on the floor, place your feet together and butterfly your legs open. Sit up tall with a straight spine, hold onto your feet and fold at the hips toward the floor. Hold the pose for 8 to 10 breaths.
Upward Facing Dog
Upward Facing dog is a dynamic stretch for the front of the legs, specifically the top of the feet, ankles and shins. It also builds muscle in the quadriceps, core, and arms. Begin this pose lying face down on the floor with your toes untucked so the tops of the feet are resting on the mat. Place the palms of the hands flat on the ground under the shoulders. As you press into your palms, work the chest, stomach and top of the quadriceps off the floor. Keep your arms straight, core and legs are engaged and top of the feet and hand are pressing into the floor. Take 8 to 10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
Need to increase flexibility in the legs? Then Downward Facing Dog is the pose for you. This pose will stretch out the calf muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and spine, while also taking pressure off the neck and vertebrate. Begin this pose on your hands and knees, curl the toes under and place hands directly under the shoulders with the palms and each finger pressing firmly on the floor. Lift your bottom as you work toward straightening your legs, press into the palms as you straighten your arms. Drop your head so there is no tension in the neck and keep pressing your chest toward your thighs. If the muscles are too tight in the legs, create a micro bend in the knees to relieve pressure. Take 8 to 10 breaths.
Seated Forward Bend
Forward bend is a great stretch for the legs and spine and can be done in a seated or standing position. In a seated position, there is a little less gravitational pull than the standing one. Begin with the legs extended out and zipped together so there is no space. Flex your feet, sit up tall and fold over your legs with a straight spine and a tiny engagement of the core muscle to help move you forward and down. Rest your hands beside you (avoid gripping the legs) and take 8 to 10 breaths.
This pose is a restorative pose that helps relax the body while stretching the knees, hips, shins, ankles and spine. Child’s pose is a great asana to practice after a long run. Begin this pose on your hands and knees, bring the inside edge of your feet together and rest the top of your feet on the mat. Splay your knees open so they are a bit wider than your hips. Sit back on your heels, rest your belly between your thighs and drop your forehead to the mat and reach arms out in front of you. You can rest in the pose for 10-15 breaths or as long as you like. You will love the calmness that rushes over you as you practice this pose.
Stretching is a very important aspect of becoming a successful runner, so be sure to integrate it into your everyday workout. Even better, consider joining a weekly yoga class and get an entire hour of stretching on your recovery days!