Running is great for you and has so many positive impacts on your health and well being. But along with this you have to consider that for every mile you run, your feet hit the ground around a thousand times and couple this with the cambers of the road and even minute imbalances in the strides and you have a recipe for bad backs, knees, tight thighs and sore feet.
The pain is not caused by the running itself but more of the faults in technique and imbalances that running causes and exacerbates. Yoga may be at the opposite end of the exercise spectrum but the two work well in cohesion with each other. Where one works to strengthen and tighten the muscles the other works to lengthen and enhance flexibility.
The work on the flexibility of the muscles can not be understated in the benefits towards running as much of the time, the action of running will naturally leave many people feeling imbalanced with every step being taken forcing the muscles to work harder in compensation causing them to neglect the weaker muscles. Because of this the compensating muscles get tighter and tighter whilst the weaker muscles get weaker and weaker. This is not a good cycle to get caught in as tight or weak muscles will not work effectively as the shock absorbers that they should, this can in turn cause joints to rub and grind which is not good news for the running or sport enthusiast.
Yoga will help realign the imbalances by helping you focus on your own balance and strength of key muscles by increasing the range of motion, flexibility, suppleness and your own confidence in your body. By learning how to co-ordinate your breathing with each movement will in no doubt help you run for longer without injury, this is known as asana conditioning and used in combination with strengthening intrinsic muscle groups you will be able to support and stabilise your own core skeletal system often offsetting the one dimensional effects of a runner’s usual work out.
Just being more aware of your body is the first step in helping you treat your muscles that little bit better, understanding that some muscles will be working harder than others during a run is key to understanding how Yoga can really help you strengthen the muscles that are being neglected by the running. The practice of yoga also helps you recognise that each day is unique in terms of your own personal energy levels an just because you made a good time or distance the last time you trained, your muscles, aerobic capacity and general conditioning may be different on the day.
There are a lot more lessons to be learned by runners than just stretching and warming up effectively. Once you recognise the values of yoga marry perfectly with the exercises of running then you will reap the benefits of being able to run further, more effectively and with less down time for recovery.
Don’t discount the benefits of yoga for runners, a good yoga instructor will be able to set you some beginner positions to give a go and will be more than happy to help you realign yourself.
Alice is a freelance copywriter and practiced her yoga to compliment her running and never looked back and is a frequent visitor on Yoga Holidays at Spa Resorts and Hotels around the world. If you want any advice ask her below in the comment box and she’ll do her best to help.