If you identify as a runner you might be familiar with the following: shin splints, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, stress fractures. Running takes a lot from your body. With every stride we exert 5 to 12 times our body weight to propel us through the next step. Do that for hours upon hours and you’re bound to end up with a nagging injury. We can’t change how demanding running is, but we can work to prevent these injuries by doing activities that help strengthen our tendons, ligaments, and muscles outside of the quadriceps and calves, which are usually the major muscle groups worked while running. Yoga has many benefits for runners. In addition to the physical effects, it is a highly mental practice. During moments of discomfort we learn to breathe through movements and hold poses; this is helpful when you’re at a point in a race where it’s too painful or tiring to go on. You develop your own mantras that help you achieve success when you just want to give up. As runners we tend to have tight hips, hamstrings, quads, calves, feet – you name it! The appeal of yoga is that no matter which class you go to, all of those body parts will be stretched in some way. In addition to stretching, yoga is a great workout for your core. Your core holds you up while running and will help you retain form in the late stages of a race or long run when your legs give out. A strong core also helps improve your endurance and form. We tend to neglect doing core work, or possibly try and do it improperly. We lead very busy lives and may not always make time for 10 minutes of stretching after every run, but it is highly suggested that you incorporate a yoga class into your self-care routine. Coming from a sport that is highly competitive, yoga is a breath of fresh air in a non-judgmental and supportive environment. It doesn’t matter if you can or can’t touch your toes, there is no competition or prize for doing so. Yoga teaches us to be honest with ourselves and listen to where we’re at in the current moment. Some days we must dial it back in order to move forward. In running, listening to our bodies is crucial and could mean the difference between a minor injury and a sidelining injury. If you feel that your running routine is missing something, are prone to common running injuries, need an effective cross training activity and/or looking to gain strength, flexibility, and confidence, yoga just may be what you need. Hope to see you on the mat!
- Ashley Shamus, Manager of the National Running Center in Clarks Summit