While runners are incredibly fit, with toned physiques to match, there is one thing that they cannot get away from – muscle stiffness. Muscle stiffness or tightness can result in injury if not properly addressed – and the fact that we sit most of the day does not help in terms of decreasing the risk of injury as a result of this.
Yoga is an excellent method of improving flexibility and, when practised before training or a race, can help to reduce the risk of muscle stiffness and potential injury. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits for runners that come with practising yoga.
Benefits of yoga for runners
Improvement in strength
When practising yoga, you often hold poses for extended periods of time. These poses strengthen your quads, hamstrings and core while increasing hip flexibility. By strengthening your hamstrings, you reduce your risk of injury that comes with frontal loading – the phenomenon whereby your quads are stronger than your hamstrings.
With most of the yoga poses including bending, you are able to improve flexibility in your lower back as well as your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are notorious for causing injury, so by stretching them out and loosening the muscle, you can reduce the risk of hamstring tears. By stretching out your lower body, you also help relieve tension and improve flexibility in your hips as well.
Assists with breathing control
Holding yoga poses for extended periods forces yogis to manage their breathing in a way that supports their movement. By learning to breathe under pressure, you are giving your lungs the ability to cope with strain and this allows for the delivery of oxygen to your muscles which improve your performance. It also helps to improve your lung capacity which is great for endurance training.
Increased bodily awareness
Through yoga, you are able to understand your body a whole lot better. It gives you the ability to listen to your body and respond accordingly.
Yoga also acts as a great pain management tool as a result of the endorphins released during practice. These hormones are not only responsible for letting you feel good but also acts as a natural painkiller.
Just as you need to be dedicated to your training schedule, you also need to be dedicated to practising yoga in order to utilise its full benefits and reap the rewards. Once-off sessions will not help you in the long term. You need to commit to at least three yoga sessions a week and make it part of your training routine.
Running with the correct form will help in minimising your risk of injury. The posture alignment practised in yoga will transfer to your running style – back straight, shoulders relaxed and core activated.
Assists with recovery
Yoga relieves tension and stiffness while improving your range of motion. By incorporating yoga into your running routine, you can assist your body in recovering after strenuous workouts. When starting out, try not to push your body too far. Listen to your body and know your limits.
With all of the benefits of yoga, are you keen to start teaching others this ancient art? If you are then why not become a yoga instructor with us? Check out our Yoga Instructor Course for more information.