For the avid runner, mixing in a supplemental exercise can provide a wide range of benefits including an enhanced level of performance and decreased chance of injury. Yoga is an ideal form of exercise as certain poses target specific muscle groups leading to increased flexibility and an extended range of proper and supported motion. Julie Gagnon-Erickson — the owner and Founder of Endurance Pilates and Yoga claims that yoga is the perfect supplemental activity for those who run several times per week. Yoga is also an effective form of recovery, helping to alleviate soreness and tension in one’s muscles. Julie takes the time to outline some of the top poses for the avid runner.
Some of the most common forms of injuries experienced by runners are leg injuries- shin splints, knee, and foot issues. Julie Gagnon-Erickson recommends downward dog as the classic pose which helps stretch and strengthen your calves, hamstrings, foot arches and shoulders. Running creates tension in the back of the legs which may lead to chronic pain in the hamstrings and calf muscles. Downward dog alleviates this tension by stretching the upper and lower body, making this pose the ideal recovery workout.
Legs up the Wall
Legs up the wall is a restorative yoga posture that relaxes both the mind and body while alleviating tension. Although the pose may appear simple, a seasoned instructor understands the far-reaching benefits of this stretch. According to Julie Gagnon-Erickson, this pose is an effective recovery exercise as it facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation. By inverting the legs, individuals are able to significantly reduce signs of swelling and reduce pain in the lower extremities.
Hip flexibility is essential to ensuring top performance for runners and this modification of the classic pigeon pose is great for opening up and stretching the hip joint. Julie claims that this pose stretches the thighs, gluteal and piriformis muscles, and lengthens the hip flexors. Reclining pigeon also reduces the chances of chronic pain by increasing hip flexibility and improving alignment.
Tree pose is a simple balance technique that can be performed by individuals of varying fitness levels. This pose strengthens the ankles and shin muscles and requires a significant amount of focus. Tree pose is ideal for runners as this movement assists the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens legs and hip bones due to the weight-bearing nature of the pose.
Any stretch that involves a forward reaching motion is great for stretching out the calves and hamstrings. While in a seated position reach as far as you can while your back remains straight while folding over your legs. Individuals who find themselves unable to achieve this pose, they can bend their legs slightly or place their palms on their calves.
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