Lesson Plan for Runners

Runner’s knees, shin splint, inflammation of the Achilles tendon, tight hamstrings, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) are some of the common problems faced by runners. This is due to the tightening and shortening of muscles in a typical runner.

The following series aim to relax, stretch and elongate the overworked muscles, especially the muscles in the hip, groin and legs. The class is designed to be restorative hence students will hold in poses for a longer period of time. Poses may also be repeated, encourage the students to go deeper into the pose the second time.

As the poses may be quite intense for runners, the tendency for students will be holding their breaths or shallow breathing. Keep reminding students to inhale and exhale fully and steadily.

Warm-Up

Before starting the asana practice, students to warm up their body paying attention to all the joints in the body.

Cat-Cow poses:

Student will come into cat to cow, cow to cat poses in continuous motion to stretch the front and back torso, spine and neck.

Asanas

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

Students to walk their legs out in the downward facing dog pose, bend alternate knees to relieve the strain in hamstrings and to stretch out the muscles in the calves. Holding on to this pose for 5 breaths will allow students to calm the mind and energize the body. This pose also stretches almost every part of the body – shoulders, wrists, spine, hamstrings, calves, ankles.

For beginners, their heels may not be flat on the ground and that is okay.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana):

Student to walk their legs to their hands and bend over in forward bend. Caution not to lock and hyper-extend the knees. Beginners can bend knees slightly in this pose.

To intensify this pose, students can flex their toes off the ground so there is a more intense stretch on the back of the legs. In the standing forward bend, variations can be done to the upper body – e.g. interlacing fingers over the head to open up the shoulders or holding the elbows to release tension in the upper back. Continuously moving between Uttanasana and Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Half Forward Bend) is also good to release the spine, shoulder and the back of the legs.

From the Standing Forward Bend, student to slowly bend knees and come into a squat before sitting on their sitting down.

Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Students to flutter their knees slowly like a butterfly. This will release tension in the groin and the inner thighs. Stop fluttering the knees and hold in this pose. For students who are tight, they may elevate the hips by sitting on a block or use blocks underneath the knees whichever is more comfortable. For students who are too comfortable here, they may fold forward by bringing their chest toward the feet and forehead towards the floor.

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirasana)

This pose will be quite intense for students with hamstring or hip flexor tightness and the tendency is to round the spine. Get students to elongate the spine and to look forward at their toes instead of looking at their knee, this is to ensure that students extend the sternum and elongate their spine instead of rounding.

Variations of Janu Sirasana (as per Ashtanga primary series) can be added if there is sufficient time.

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

This pose will be quite intense on the hips and thighs and shoulders for some people. Students who cannot hold their fingers due to tight shoulders or arms can hold on to a strap or towel. For students who cannot get both sitting bones to rest on the follow, a block can be use to support the side which is off the floor.

Hero and Reclined Hero Pose (Virasana and Supta Virasana)

For students who cannot sit on the buttocks comfortably in the hero pose, do not go into reclined hero pose. A block can be placed below their buttocks to ease the tension in their thighs, knees or ankles. This pose can release the tension in the IT band, hip flexors, knees and ankles.

Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

This pose will stretch most of the muscles in the legs from the hips to the calves. Students can hold their big toe, ankles or calves. For very tight students, they also can hold their foot with the help of a strap. Breathe in this position for a few counts before opening the legs to the side (Supta Padangusthasana B), students can bend their knees and hold on to their knees in Supta Padangusthasana B.

Closing poses

As students are on their back from the last pose, they can do a reclining twist on both sides to release any tension in the body. A happy baby pose can also be added for students to massage their spine.

Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)

This pose improves circulation in the legs and will relieve tired legs. Get students to close their eyes and sink into this pose for up to 5 minutes and the benefits will be quite therapeutic.

Savasana for 5 minutes.

Namaste.