Every runner has an Achilles heel, even if it is not an actual heel. When you run, those muscles that are strongest tend to take over, which is a good thing because it allows you to hit the pavement over and over. But those muscles that aren’t pulling their weight will continue to weaken. When that happens, it not only makes it difficult to improve your running to go farther faster, it also predisposes you to injury. Muscle imbalances can affect your gait and plague you with injuries that will have you sitting on the bench. The good news is that yoga is an excellent way to strengthen all the muscles of your body to work together. And it can help you to do away with whatever Achilles heel is limiting you.
5 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Running
The Low Lunge is an Anjaneyasana pose that is excellent for runners who suffer from hip flexor tightness. It helps to lengthen the spine and to pull the chest forward. That opens up the ribcage for deeper breathing, which helps to supply the body with better oxygen flow to keep your muscles supplied for endurance running.
To perform a Long Lunge, you will want to lunge one foot forward, while at the same time, extend your arms up and spread out your fingers. Then, evenly distribute the weight on your foot and push the big toe of your back leg into the ground. The key is to sink your hips forward, keep your spine long, and your tailbone down, while also engaging your core. The Long Lunge is a pose that will get all of your muscles onboard to strengthen and lengthen at the same time.
Since runners only work in one plane, it is a good idea to open up both sides of the body. The Lunge Twist is one of the best total body strengtheners and stretches you can do. To do a Lunge Twist, you will want to squat down with both knees together and stay on the heels of your feet. Act as if you are sitting in a chair.
Take your hands and press them together in a praying pose in front of your body. From there, you will want to twist to the left and put your left elbow up against your right knee, while still holding your hands strongly together. If you are comfortable, you can open your arms up touching the left hand down toward the ground and the right hand reaching for the sky.
But pay special attention to maintain a squatting stanch where your knee doesn't go over the site of your toes. You will want to turn your gaze to the right hand as it reaches up to the sky. Once you have held the post for sixty seconds, twist to the other side, and repeat.
When you run, you keep your gaze looking toward the horizon. Sometimes that can put you in a position where you are leaning forward with shoulders clenched together and tight. The Dancer’s Pose will help to open up your shoulders and improve your posture, which will open up your diaphragm and help you to breathe more efficiently to get more rich oxygen to your muscles. It also helps to strengthen and lengthen the hamstrings to reduce injury.
Finally, it helps to extend the entire body from head to toe. To perform the Dancer’s Pose, stand with your feet together. Lift the left leg up to the sky while at the same time reaching behind you and grabbing your left foot with your right hand. Take your left hand and extend it up toward the sky making sure to open up your fingers and extend them too. Your right foot should be planted evenly, distributing your weight from heel to toe. Allow your left leg to pull against your left arm to feel the full extension in your torso. Keep your eyes forward and your head in neutral.
Since running tends to make hamstrings short and tight, the Rag Doll Pose is an excellent one to stave away common running injuries that stem from short and tight hamstrings. It is called the Rag Doll because the key is to let everything fall loosely. Stand with your feet together and take your arms crossing them over your head and lean forward as far as you can.
You will want to pay special attention that your feet are hip distance apart and ensure that your weight is evenly distributed among the four corners of both of your feet. Also, focus on keeping the back of your neck long. Try not to lock out your knees by keeping them soft, and stretch as far forward as is comfortable.
To improve your range of motion and to loosen your hips, hamstrings, and glutes, there is no better pose than the Reclining Cow Face. To perform the Reclining Cow Face, lie on your back. Then, cross your knees and shoot your feet out to the opposite direction. Hold onto your left foot with your right hand and your right foot with the left hand. Try to pull your heels toward the opposite side of your body using a motion that is slightly up and out. Once you have held it for sixty seconds crossing one way, cross the other way, and repeat the process.
To keep your body balanced as a runner can be no small feat. The body makes small compensations for weaknesses that you typically don’t know about until you are injured. Make sure to keep your body in check, and all of your muscles strong by strengthening and lengthening them using yoga poses. These five poses are just some of the many yoga movements that can help you stay strong and out on the road running. For more runner resources, check out World’s Marathons today.