Yoga For Runners
Yoga is not only a beautiful practice in itself, it van also work wonders on improving running technique and rehabilitation. As more and more people hit the pavement in preparation for the London Marathon, or in line with new years resolutions to move more, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favourite yoga poses for runners.
Please note that these pictures are just an indication of the pose - our bodies are all so different, so this may look different in your body and it's important to stay mindful and safe in your stretching rather than forcing or over stretching.
Downward Facing Dog
Spread the fingers wide, soften the knees and try to lengthen the tailbone to the sky, away from the crown of the head so that the spine is straight.
Keep the knees soft, especially if your hamstrings are tight, and maybe try bending one knee then the other to loosen the calves, the hamstrings and the tissues in the back of the body.
Low Lunge/Crescent Lunge
Soften into the front knee but keep lifted up out of the waist to take the weight out of the lower back.
Draw the chest up, and perhaps try drawing a line up and over the shoulder on the same side as the foot that is forward. This is great for opening up the quads and hip flexors.
This is one for the hamstrings. Depending on the tensions in your body and shape of your bones, try dropping the hips down to the back heel, or tucking the back toes to find where you get the greatest stretch.
This one is great for the glutes and the IT band, although anyone that is really tight in the hamstrings or groin might notice it there first.
Try to keep the spine long, even if you fold forward, and allow yourself to soften into the pose breath by breath.
SEATED FORWARD FOLD
Here's another one for the hamstrings and the back of the body. Use a strap to keep the shoulders drawing down the spine and allow the collar bones to widen.
Hollow out the lower belly and hinge at the hips, thinking about keeping the spine long. You're not trying to get the forehead to the knees so think more about the sternum reaching to the toes.
You can also sit up on a block to help tilt the hips if you find this challenging.
These two videos are particularly helpful for runners, who often suffer from tight hamstrings and could benefit from using props to stretch well.
These videos include some of the stretches above to help you access and stretch the typically tight body parts associated with running. In addition to these, yin yoga (discover more about yin yoga here) is brilliant for helping to go a little deeper with your stretching and working with the deep connective tissues of the body to help recovery and to prevent injury. I've shared some videos on my YouTube channel that are great for runners, so make sure you give them a go.