Yoga is a relaxing but challenging exercise practice that stimulates flexibility and muscle strength. It’s easy to assume that yoga is easy and casual, but it actually brings about a different type of challenge for athletes. When yoga is paired with training in other areas of fitness, it improves overall performance for competitions.
Long-distance runners endure a lot of joint stress. When performed properly, yoga strengthens the joints and slow-twitch muscle fibers. It is the slow-twitch muscles that build power for running long distances for a long period of time. Certain poses are better for long-distance runners. Yoga is excellent for increased core strength, pain prevention, range of motion, balance and flexibility. These poses will help improve race times and overall strength.
Wall Dog: This move is similar to downward-dog pose. It involves a wall instead of a floor. This move is excellent for runners that need to stretch in a random place before working out. The floor may not always be clean, so a wall or tree makes a good alternative. Stand facing a wall, relaxed with hips shoulder-width apart touching the wall. Fingertips should be pointing upwards. Step back a few times so that your butt is sticking out and your back is flat. Stretch and lengthen the back. You should feel this in your back, hamstrings, lats and hip muscles.
Hamstring Stretch: This pose is actually called “runners pose.” A hamstring stretch is important for long-distance runners. It builds flexibility and strength. Flexible hamstrings also encourage proper posture. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend arms behind your body. Step your right foot back a few paces. It should be far enough that you are working to hold your body up but still stable enough to hold the pose. Suck your belly in at the bellybutton. Bend forward without curving. The back must remain straight. Return to start. Switch legs.
Lunge: There are a few types of lunges. The yoga lunge is different from a strength-training lunge. To get into this pose, bend your knee at a 90 degree angle. The knee should never go over the toes or ankle. Stretch your torso out beside your leg. Keep your back straight and hips stable. Rest hands on each side of your foot for support. The opposite leg should be straight. You should be lightly balancing with your toes on the opposite leg. This strengthens the back, Achilles tendons and calves.
Tips For Long-Distance Runners Doing Yoga
• Never bounce while stretching.• Hold poses in a controlled manner.• If it hurts, stop the pose immediately.• Practice daily after running. Three times per week is sufficient if daily isn’t possible.• Modify if your hips and hamstrings are tight.