Yoga for Runners: The Effects and Benefits of the Practice
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If you are a runner, you may already know that many runners face a number of strength and flexibility issues. But did you know that yoga, when done as a part of your regular routine, may just be the antidote you need to resolve these adverse effects of running?
The fact is, yoga can be an incredible practice for runners. For starters, while running, one can lead to frequent injuries because of the repetitive movements and musculoskeletal imbalances. With regular yoga practice, runners can prevent themselves from injuries as it helps identify the weak spots of the body that need extra focus while running.
It helps the body restore its balance and symmetry, making it perfect for running. Yoga helps runners deal with various physical related issues, be it lack of flexibility, stamina or tendencies for injury. It opens up and strengthens the muscles of the entire body, increases strength that is likely to help you to become a better runner.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the wonderful ways in which yoga benefits a runner:
1. It improves strength & stamina
Yoga sequence for strength. Video credit: Yoga with Adrienne YouTube Account
As a runner, you have to do repetitive motions which over-utilize certain muscles while underusing or ‘ignoring’ the other supporting muscles. A well-balanced yoga practice can build strength in both supporting as well as in isolated muscles. It lengthens and strengthens muscles, joints, and ligaments. The physical and mental practices found in yoga increase the body’s overall control, muscular symmetry, energy levels and not to mention overall strength.
2. It helps to prevent injuries
Yoga helps you know and understand your body in a deeper way. It builds mental awareness of the body and lets you know when you are likely to become injured – therefore avoiding it from happening. It improves alignment in the body and prevents you from injury often caused by poor positioning during the performance.
3. It improves breathing
Breath is life – So in short, the better one breathes, the longer he or she lives. Pranayama in yoga is about exercising the right breathing techniques. It increases the supply of oxygen to the vital organs of the body. The deep breathing involved in yoga practices, whether it’s a more challenging style such as Ashtanga yoga or a more laid-back practice like Yin yoga, reduces performance anxiety and provides relaxation to the mind and body.
4. It develops inner strength
Aside from alleviating you from physical issues, yoga can help you evolve mentally and emotionally. With regular practice of yoga, one develops better concentration, overcomes their ego, and builds the confidence required when lacing up for a run.
5. It increases flexibility
A balanced yoga practice uses the entire body muscles to perform movements and form postures. While performing yoga practices, joints also undergo a range of motions. The corresponding muscles of these joints stretch and contract to support them. This results in improved muscle balance, hence a more supple and flexible body.
6. It provides complete relaxation
One of the important things for athletes is to recharge themselves between workouts. Practicing yoga on a regular basis reduces stress and fatigue, clears the mind of unnecessary negative thoughts and helps you sleep better. This is because it calms the nervous system and reduces physical tension.
7. It helps you to become a better runner mentally
Being an athlete, the pressure to win can often leave you feeling stressed. Your mind wanders and fills up with tension and bothersome thoughts such as how fast you should run, what will likely to happen in the tracks, etc. Regular yoga sessions can help turn these thoughts off and, helps you focus better on your goals. The more mentally strong you are, the more likely you will become a better runner.
Now that you know the abundance of benefits, be sure to practice yoga poses for runners on a regular basis to improve your performance!
Curious as to how you can combine yoga and running, create a perfect synergy and reap the benefits of both practices? We recommend to sign yourself up for a yoga therapy teacher training!