Yoga for Runners

Before practicing yoga regularly, what I do to stay active is running. Over time, I do experience some lower back pain and sore feet. These are common complaints for those who tend to jog or run often.

A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints and the entire skeletal system.

Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.

Tension is the athlete’s downfall, and breath awareness is the key to reducing it. Conscious breathing and pranayama exercises, which soothe the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and relax the entire body, can be of great benefit to runners.

To recover from a long run, you can rest your back with your legs propped up on a wall. This inversion speeds recovery by draining fluids from the legs, stretching the hamstrings, and relieving tired legs and feet. This can be done after a recovery meal or shower. It helps to relax your whole body.

I have since started to incorporate yoga postures into the warm-up and cool-down portions of my workout. Think of running as the linear part of the workout and yoga as its circular complement.