Setting a goal to run a marathon is life altering and monumental. But the training leading up to your marathon may be filled with blisters, mental challenges, muscle fatigue, weakness and injury. Yoga can help you:
- decrease plantar fascia injuries
- decrease Achilles tendonitis
- run more efficiently with less effort
- increase flexibility in your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves
- open supple hips to decrease knee strain and injury
The NYC marathon and many other races are approaching. Here are my top six yoga moves for runners — from weekend warriors to serious marathoners — to do daily before training, after a workout and, most importantly, after the big day.
1. Opposite Arm, Opposite Leg is a great to warm up the hamstrings, calves and low back for intense run sessions. Opposite Arm, Opposite Leg also addresses the shoulders, which tend to get slumpy when you run long distances, encouraging poor posture and inefficient breathing.
2. Standing Forward Bend keeps the hamstrings open and flexible for all the forceful extensions. This pose, when done correctly, also releases tension in the back. My favorite (and very challenging) Standing Forward Bend variation is doing this against the wall. Intense!
3. Heavy Legs. This is an amazing must-do! Heavy Legs, also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose, decreases the cement-like feeling in the legs that frequently comes with long, serious runs. It encourages lymph drainage and puts the pep back in the step. Easy and relaxing.
4. Hero Pose. Achilles tendon problems and calf blowouts are serious problems for avid runners. They need not plague your routines. Add Hero Pose and its toes-tucked-under variation to your yoga routine. Do these stretches regularly, holding for 2-3 minutes, and ward off injuries.
5. Pigeon Pose, with quad variation. Runners often endure sciatic problems; they come with the territory, and Pigeon Pose is just the right medicine. Adding the quad variation, by reaching back with and gently pulling your foot toward your rear end, helps balance the legs. Many runners just focus on hamstrings, but you have to think three-dimensionally to stay healthy and strong. If you run outside, you have to deal with uphills and downhills, so it’s important to stretch not only your hammies but your quads, too.
6. Frog Pose. You cannot address the needs of a runner without giving time and attention to the groin area. Sit in Frog Pose for five minutes — long holds are crucial — while you focus on breathing and visualize your success on the pavement. Orthopedic studies show the more open and flexible the hips are, the less injury to vulnerable knees.
These six yoga poses will help increase your agility, flexibility and ability to recover for your best marathon ever!
Try one of Gwen Lawrence’s yoga for runners workouts on GaiamTV.com!