Use yoga to improve your running
While running is a great way of burning calories and toning up, you can get so much more out of your daily routine if you incorporate some yoga into your exercise time. This is because yoga can help strengthen the body and increase your flexibility, which in turn will help you run better.
Your muscles can become pretty tight when you sprint regularly and because of the repetitive nature of the activity; certain muscle groups can be overtaxed, such as your hamstrings, hip flexors and calves. But yoga can help lengthen them as well as strengthen your core, feet and ankles which should help you avoid any injuries and restore a natural range of motion.
This is particularly important when you realise that the feet and ankles absorb two to three times the body weight on every stride, particularly those who run outdoors on roads and pavements.
However yoga isn’t just about strength, it can also help runners with their breathing techniques, which would be particularly useful if you’re a fan of a half-marathon or two!
And then there’s the mental side of things. As with any sport or exercise that pushes your body, being in the right mindset can be half the battle to achieving your goals, and running is no exception. Your brain can sometimes turn negative halfway into a run, but yoga can help train you to keep positive, present and able to reach the distance you set yourself.
So what stretches are best? Well a simple way to ease stiff legs is to lie on your back and loop a yoga strap, dressing gown belt or old tie around the sole of the right foot. Straighten the leg to perform a hamstring stretch. You can add variations to this such as a calf stretch, which involves shuffling the strap to the ball of the foot and pushing the heel up.
For your glutes, take the strap in the left hand and slowly draw the leg across the body while for your inner thigh, put the strap in your right hand and open the leg out to the right. Maintain each stretch for 30-60 seconds and take deep breaths throughout before repeating on the other leg.
Triangle pose is also good for a stretch after a long run. With your feet facing forward, turn your right leg out 90 degrees and straighten it. Then reach the right arm towards the front of the room, engaging your right thigh as you go. Drop your right hand down onto your shin or ankle. The left shoulder stacks on top of the right one as you open your chest, reaching the left fingertips towards the ceiling while keeping your left shoulder rooted in its socket. Take your gaze up toward your left fingertips and draw the right thigh muscles upwards, deepening the crease in your right hip. Repeat on the other leg.