Runners are well-conditioned, strong athletes—and that’s across the board from sprinters to marathoners. However, that same repetitive running motion can also compress joints and stresses the body. Not only do these two disciplines counteract the other, but yoga is critical in helping runners build upper body strength and prevent injury, too.
Interestingly, yoga is also able to help show runners where they have any muscle imbalances and and weaknesses in the body. “Unlike running, which favors the larger, more dominant muscle groups like the quads, glutes and hamstrings, many yoga poses have you actively recruit smaller, often ignored muscle groups,” says Laurenn Cutshaw, VP of Marketing and Branding for Yoga Six in San Diego. We spoke to Cutshaw, along with Yoga Instructor and Endurance Sports Coach Sage Rountree and Yoga Instructor and Lycored Brand Ambassador Kristin McGee for the best yoga poses for runners. Try these moves after your next run, and aim to do them all at least three times a week.
This is the pose that's always silhouetted against a sunrise in yoga literature. It looks good when properly executed (can't say the same for the locust). Stand and bend one leg back at the knee, reaching back with the hand on the same side to grab the foot. Then raise the other arm up, and simultaneously bring the leg up and back, away from your body. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be folding forward from the hips and bending your back slightly. Hold for five breaths.
Along with stretching a whole range of muscles, the Dancer position improves balance, which is something we don't talk about enough in running. It seems obvious: If we don't fall, we're balanced. But better balance means a more efficient stride and fewer injuries (overuse and otherwise) from landing improperly – all the more important if you're running in minimalist footwear.
Benefits: Improves balance and helps with plantar fasciitis, knee pain, ITBS, and hip pain.
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