Put Yoga To Work For You.
Injury prevention through Improved flexibility, range of motion and muscular strength: that’s what Yoga can do for the runner. Sound good?
For some of you, Yoga might be part of your daily routine. Most runners, however, get that rabbit-in-the-headlights feeling at the mere mentioning of the word Yoga. As in: “If I tried to do this, I would break something or get stuck in a very inappropriate position!” Which is mostly what we thought – until we tried it. Key is to really gently ease into it. Remember why you’re even trying these exercises: to improve your flexibility, right?
You stopped stretching as it’s a waste of time for runners, but would really like to loosen up those tight hamstrings and glutes? Then some of these Yoga stretches might be exactly what you need.
Runner’s world went all out with a whole series of stretches – some of which we hope nobody will EVER make us try! We selected the ones that are doable (Yes, that ‘RECLINING COW FACE’ did not put us in hospital!) and specifically target the hamstrings, glutes and shins. Enjoy stress relief and extra piece of mind as a side-effect!
(If you need more help: check the video on page 2.)
Benefits: Stretches hip flexors; strengthens hamstrings and quads.
To Do: From Downward Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower your left knee and, keeping the right knee in place, slide the left one back. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor and lift your torso upright. Then sweep your arms out to the sides and up overhead. Drop your tailbone toward the floor and look up. Hold for 10 breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Helps prevent plantar fasciitis by stretching the shins and arches of the feet.
To Do: Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under. Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes). Breathe deeply for 10 counts. Then, point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind you, and lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. If your knees don’t come far up, don’t worry. You’ll still feel a nice stretch in your shins and arches.
RECLINING COW FACE
Benefits: Improves range of motion in the hips; loosens tight glutes and hamstrings.
To Do: Lie on your back and cross your knees, sending your feet out to your sides. Hold onto your right foot with your left hand and your left foot with your right hand. Or if it’s more comfortable, hold your shins. Pull your heels in toward your body, then out to the sides and slightly up. Hold for 10 breaths, then reverse leg position and repeat.
LEGS ON WALL
Benefits: Relieves tension in legs, feet, and back; stretches hamstrings and glutes.
To Do: Sidle up beside an open wall space, with your hips as close to the base of the wall as is comfortable. Swing your legs up the wall and lie back. Rest here anywhere from 10 breaths to 10 minutes. Some people even nod off—sleep is the most essential recovery pose.
On the next page, you’ll find a video explaining these poses in more detail – and some more! (Who comes up with these names, btw? Reclining Pigeon? WTF?)