Becoming a better runner requires more than covering the miles and being equipped with the best fitting socks. You also need an exercise routine that builds muscles and flexibility. Yoga is a great way to improve your running abilities by increasing your flexibility and also preventing injury if practiced properly. Try these four yoga poses to improve your running abilities.
Many distance runners worry about IT band syndrome. IT band syndrome is a common injury that often happens when runners spend too much time running and not enough time developing their hips.
Eka pada (pigeon pose) gives you a chance to strengthen your hip flexor while getting a deep stretch that helps prevent IT band problems.
Pigeon pose may feel uncomfortable at first, so aim for slow progress. Eventually, you will have the ability to put your chest on the floor for a full stretch that provides great relief.
Running primarily strengthens your leg muscles (hamstrings, quadriceps and calves). However, it doesn’t challenge your core muscles, which might become a problem when you want to add more distance to your long runs. Without a strong core, you can’t maintain good running form.
Yoga has a lot of poses that can strengthen your core muscles. Few of them work better than the Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (dolphin plank).
Dolphin plank is a modified version of the standard plank position. Instead of putting your palms on the floor, you put your weight on your forearms. This minor adjustment forces your abdominal muscles to work harder. The pose also strengthens your lower back, chest and hamstrings.
Vrksasana (tree pose) is one of the most popular positions in yoga because it works every part of the lower body and improves your balance. It will build your glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Tree pose even strengthens muscles in the feet. When you balance on one leg for 30 seconds or more, your active foot has to do a lot of work. Oddly enough, a lot of runners don’t think about strengthening their foot muscles until they get hurt.
Virabhadrasana III (warrior III) gives you a full-body workout that can take years to master. You’ll get some benefits even if you can only hold the pose for a few seconds.
Runners should incorporate warrior III into their workouts because it strengthens muscles in the core, legs and feet. You will also improve your shoulder and chest strength, which many runners lack because they spend so much time working on their legs.
Doing yoga a couple of times per week gives your body a break from the pressure of running. In return, it improves your body so you can perform better when you hit the road, track or trails.
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