Are you a runner? Did you know that a yoga practice can actually be really good for balancing and improving your experience with running? We know a lot about yoga here at OMstars, but to help shed light on the AMAZING benefits that yoga can offer to runners, we reached out to sports enthusiast, Jane Grates. In this post, Jane will be sharing 4 benefits that yoga can offer for runners, and we think you’ll like them. So if you’re a runner who’s looking for ways to improve, or if you’re already considering yoga as a means of cross-training, check out what Jane has to say!
When you talk to runners, it’s a near-universal truth that all they want to do is run. If given the option between running for 40 minutes or doing a 30-minute run, followed by a 10 minute full-body cross-training routine, such as yoga, I’d wager that 9 runners out of 10 would prefer to just run. This line of thinking is with good reason, too; runners think that in order to become a better runner — faster, stronger, healthier, fitter — that they have to simply run more.
The issue, of course, is that sometimes exclusively running can set runners up for injuries and over time, if left uncorrected, they can inadvertently sideline themselves. It’s often not until runners are sidelined due to injury that they begin to cross-train in earnest — such as incorporating a weekly or near-daily yoga routine — and it’s then, and only then, that they finally begin to see the light.
Fortunately, as yoga has gotten more mainstream and popular, it seems that many runners are slowly becoming aware of the role yoga can play in their running. Of course, yoga can do a number for runners’ mental game — teaching them how to focus, how to remain present, and how to quiet internal doubts, among others — but yoga can also do great things for runners’ flexibility.
Runners tend to become really strong in certain muscle groups and very weak or tight in others, thanks to the tendency to run in only plane of motion and for most runners, at only one speed. Yoga, then, has a great role to play in essentially “balancing out” runners’ muscular imbalances. For many runners, they may have quads of steel, but their hamstrings are likely extraordinarily tight and/or weak. Yoga can do wonders for this issue or for others like it.
Below, I’ll describe in additional detail, more benefits of yoga for runners. Afterward, I’ll also include good yoga poses that runners should incorporate into their practice.
Some benefits of yoga for runners include the following:
Yoga can help runners learn how to focus. Yoga is often described as a meditative practice, and similarly, many people refer to running as moving meditation. It’s common for runners’ minds to go all over the place when they’re running and to sometimes give up when the going gets tough. Yoga can help runners learn how to focus by figuring out how to stay in the present moment (or the present mile, for the matter) and not get ahead of themselves or fear the future. There’s a lot of quiet downtime in a yoga practice, particularly if you practice by yourself as you move through the sequences, and it’s from these quiet moments that runners can cultivate a renewed or stronger ability to focus.
Yoga can help runners learn how to stay calm. Closely related to the above, yoga can also help runners learn how to stay calm. Both running and yoga can be meditative and cathartic practices, but sometimes running can become extremely stressful, such as in racing environments or in really tough practices. A lot of times, you’ll hear runners complaining that their minds gave up on them before their bodies did. Sports psychologists will attribute this to a lack of mental fitness — as opposed to physical fitness — and yoga, with its associated opportunities to focus on the single, solitary moment or present — can do wonders in cultivating a sense of calmness, even amongst the cacophony of modern-day life.
Yoga can help rectify muscular imbalances brought about by running. As I mentioned earlier, runners often become very strong athletes. More often than not, though, they become very strong in some areas — such as their quads — and very weak in others — such as their hamstrings, glutes, or iliotibial bands. An effective yoga practice can help rectify these imbalances and can essentially “even out” runners’ musculature. Runners don’t need to be as flexible as gymnasts, necessarily, but being sufficiently flexible and having a healthy range of motion will enable runners to derive as much power and force out of their foot strikes and strides throughout their runs. That said, it behooves runners to be at least a little flexible.
Yoga can be a powerful way to strengthen runners’ core musculature. Finally, runners often spend a good amount of time strengthening their core muscles — those found in their abdominals, back, and trunk — and yoga is a very efficient and effective way to strengthen core musculature. There are many different types of poses that target various parts of the “core,” and runners would greatly benefit from incorporating these different moves/poses into their practice each week.
In addition to all the benefits that yoga confers for runners, it’d be worthwhile to know exactly which ones are most pertinent to runners’ needs. While there are seemingly hundreds of different types of yoga poses out there, the following poses can be especially effective for runners.
They include the following:
- Low lunge/lizard
- Pigeon – reclining or standard
- Upward/downward dog
Runners have so much to gain from yoga, and hopefully with a little insistence and urging on your part, they’ll begin to see for themselves just how much a regular routine can enhance their running.
By Jane Grates
Jane Grates is a Sports enthusiast and a hiker. Making at the intersection of simplicity and function to craft delightful brand experiences.