Yoga Rx for Runners
Step-by-step instructions for each pose can be found in The YogaFit Athlete, by Beth Shaw, from which this sequence was excerpted. (©2016 Beth Shaw; Used with permission)
- Downward Facing Dog
- Twisting Lunge
- Three-Legged Dog
- Tripod Dog
- Single Leg Stretch
- Bridge Pose
Avid runners—people who run long distances or at high speeds—are most susceptible to overuse injuries, but falling down can bring about injury as well. To defend against either kind of injury, it is important to maintain good running skills with a balanced body. My poses—especially Pigeon—promote that balance. Furthermore, since yoga is done barefoot, these poses promote good foot and ankle health, which are obviously important for runners.
Due to the single-leg impact in the running motion, your body absorbs and stabilizes through the ankle, knee, and hip joints. This often results in tightness in your hamstrings, hips, and glutes. The simple inversion of Downward Facing Dog lengthens the leg muscles and helps take compression off the lower back, which is exacerbated by the often unforgiving surfaces you run on, like pavement or concrete). The Single Leg Stretch can assist in recovery and muscle balance while Bridge Pose helps strengthen the hamstrings. Pigeon and Twisting Lunge are also great favorites of runners, because they open and lengthen the pelvis and hip complex.
Breath control and achieving maximum oxygen uptake are important skills, especially if you’re a long-distance runner; they help you sustain your pace and performance during long runs. Awareness-of posture—a benefit of these poses—can also impact your ability to breathe properly and execute running techniques that are both effective and efficient.
A regular yoga practice can enhance and ensure muscle balance and strength. Runners who commit to strength and flexibility training can ensure joint stability and alignment so that they can enjoy their sport for a long time and many miles to come.