If you’ve managed to stick to your new year’s resolution of taking up running as a new way to stay healthy, then firstly; well done! Secondly; this could be handy….
While running is a really great form of exercise, unfortunately what comes with it – especially to those who aren’t necessarily experts – is usually some form of injury!
Running can be pretty high impact, so making sure you’re properly warmed up before going for a run can be very effective in preventing injuries (especially in the cold winter months). Warming down is just as important to keep your leg muscles from cramping up or tightening too much. Yoga helps to increase the body’s strength, flexibility and ability to recover quickly because of the release of immune-enhancing endorphins and circulation boost, consider adding it to your routine to help not only calm the mind but improve the function of the body.
Before you lace up your running shoes, take a few minutes to prepare your body, it’ll make your exercise more enjoyable and much more sustainable.
Warming up gets your heart pumping, and blood circulating in the muscles, preparing them for what’s to come…. Doing a proper warm up lengthens the amount of time you’re likely to be able to run for without your muscles fatiguing.
Practice a nice balance of dynamic movements, then focus more on stretching and lengthening the muscles after your run. The best types of movements to do are ones which will prepare the body for what you’re about to do – so moving dynamically through some sun salutations is your best bet.
This is when you want to lengthen and release the muscles you’ve just been using, so it’s a good idea to do each of these poses for 5 – 10 breaths at least on each side of the body while you’re still warm.
Anjaneyasana / Low Lunge
Great for warming up the legs – especially stretching out your thighs, groins and hips. This pose is often also referred to as ‘runner’s lunge’ – so you can be pretty sure this is a great place to start!
Ashta Chandrasana / High Lunge
Including all the benefits of stretching the thighs and hips, but this pose has the added benefit of strengthening the legs and hips too. It is a little more demanding and so begins to warm up the body a little more.
Utthan Pristhasana / Lizard pose
Great for opening in to the hips, groin, and thigh muscles. If you find this pose easy, try taking your forearms to the floor and maybe even hooking a shoulder underneath the front leg!
Virabhadrasana 1 and 2 / Warrior 1 and 2
Creating space in the hips, chest, and hamstrings, Warrior 1 and 2 are also great for bringing strength and stability to the knee area – working to build up strength and protecting this vulnerable area in high impact exercises like running.
Virasana / Hero’s pose
An important pose for runners – not only does Virasana strengthen the knee area, (which is often at risk during high impact workouts and running) but it brings fresh blood supply and oxygen to that area too, keeping the tissue healthy.
Supta Hasta Padangusthasana / Reclined hand-to-big toe-pose
Stretching out the groins, hamstrings and calves, this pose can be done using a belt to make the lengthening more passive. Stay here for around a minute – we generally reach our maximum amount of flexibility within 30-60 seconds. And remember, never force flexibility! Simply breathe in to it and feel a gentle stretch along the back of the leg.
Utkatasana / Chair pose
Also known as ‘fierce pose’ or ‘….’ Utkatasana really strengthens the quadricepts, knees and abdominals, so it’s an important one to include in order to balance out stretching and flexibility. Hold here for 5 to 10 breaths. Warming up with sun salutation B allows you to include poses like Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana, already, so this could be a good option before going for a run.
Although not a part of yoga; foam rolling is such a great way to keep muscles healthy. Foam rolling ensures your muscles stay healthier for longer, preventing cells and tissue from crystalising within the muscles which can cause them to become tight. You may be able to find a foam roller at your local gym, or they’re pretty inexpensive to buy online. An essential to anyone taking up running who wants to make sure their body stays strong, healthy and reliable!
*If you notice your hamstrings are particularly tight (which is often the case with runners), here are 3 more poses to increase hamstring flexibility from the lovely Esther Ekhart!
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
― Dean Karnazes
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