Yoga for runners!

I started running regularly a few years ago and found that as I ran more, I wanted to do more yoga as running was making my muscles feel tight. Running is a hugely popular form of exercise to burn calories and keep fit, in fact I think it is safe to say that almost all my friends run regularly. However regular running can lead to muscle tightness, strain and inflexibility if not paired with sufficient stretching. Many of my friends don’t stretch after running because they either can’t be bothered or are in rush to do something or go somewhere else. This is a major mistake as regular distance running effectively involves repetitive muscle contraction and flexion. This type of excessive muscle use without sufficient repair leads to muscle damage and inflammation. Examples of common muscular symptoms caused by running include gluteus medius tendinosis which is inflammation of the tendons in your buttocks, also called ‘dead butt syndrome’, and joint injuries caused by depletion of joint lubricating glycoproteins and wearing away of joint cartilage.
Yoga can work extremely well to balance the effects of running. Doing a few targeted yoga poses can really help runners stretch the major muscles used when running and help balance repetitive joint movements. In order to help people use yoga to combat the side effects of running, I have listed out the major muscles worked when running and highlighted some key yoga poses which stretch these muscles effectively.
Major muscles used when running:
Gluteus maximus – used when pushing off the ground to gain momentum
Hamstrings – to support knee flexion and extension as you bring your leg up behind you
Quadriceps – to support knee flexion and extension as you bring your knee up and push off the ground
Hip flexors – to pull your leg forward as you push into a new step and stabilise your hips
Core muscles (e.g. rectus and transverse abdominals, obliques, erector spinea, latissimus dorsi) – to keep your spine aligned and the body balanced as you run while also rotating the spine as your arms and legs come forward with each step
Yoga poses which are good for runners:
Downward dog – Legs: lengthen and straightens the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and gastrocnemius (calf muscles). Body: stretches back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi while contracting the rhomboids
Paschimottanasana (forward bend) – Legs: stretches the glutes, IT bend, hamstrings (bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus) and gastrocnemius. Feet: Flexing feet stretches the arch of the foot. Body: stretches latissimus dorsi and trapezius in your back
Bridge – Core: stretches the abdominals, serratus anterior and obliques. Legs: stretches the hip flexors (iliopsoas, pectineus) and quads
Marichyasana C (seated twist) – Neck: stretches the scalenus and sternocleidomastoideus. Core: Stretches the latissimus dorsi, obliques and trapezius
Baddha Konasana (cobbler pose) – Legs: Lengthens the quadriceps and hipflexors e.g. the adductors, while contracting the glutes, tensor fascia latae and sartorius

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