Beginner’s Yoga for Runners – Day 2
We all know that stretching after a run can help to reduce soreness the next day, but did you know that doing specific yoga postures BEFORE you run can also help to improve your run? The reason why this is effective because what you’re doing with the yoga postures below isn’t stretching – it’s muscle activation. By turning on inactive muscles, you help to correct imbalances caused by inactivity, such as sitting at a desk or driving, and ensure that your body is functioning at maximum efficiency! I’ve selected 5 postures which target the most critical muscles utilized by runners in exercise. The whole routine will take you less than 5 minutes, but you’ll notice a difference immediately!
1. Standing March Hold
I recommend this is the first posture you do before you go for your run. It requires absolutely zero warm-up, and does quite a few things for your body. It helps to activate your hip flexors, turns on your core, ankles, and gets your stabilizing muscles engaged. Balancing postures like this one are awesome because they recruit more muscle fibers, and when that happens you increase your muscle efficiency.
Do this simple Standing March Hold balance posture to activate your hip flexors, warm-up your entire lower-body (hips, knees, and ankles), and turn on your core. It even helps to improve your posture to make you keep your chest open, which leads to better breathing! Hold this for 30 seconds, and repeat for both sides..
2. High Lunge
The High Lunge is a great exercise for turning on your glutes and thighs. It also gives a modest stretch for your hip flexors, and with your arms lifted overhead as shown here, it adds a great chest-opening element, helping to improve your breathing. When you’re doing the high lunge, try and focus on the strength building and muscle activation aspects of the pose.
In other words, don’t go as deep as you possibly can go into the lunge. Focus on the squeezing your butt and thigh muscles instead. When doing yoga before a run, this should be the focus – rather than trying to improve your flexibility and go as deep as you possibly can (you can do that another time). Hold this one for about 30 seconds – just long enough for the hips to modestly open, but not enough to wear you out.
3. Deep Squat
The Deep Squat is important because it gets you to turn on your glutes and core. Without these critical muscle groups activated, your lower-back will make up for the lack of muscle activation by overworking, and this can lead to back pain or discomfort. Get your glutes and your core working beforehand with this deep squat, and you’ll have a smoother, more efficient run for sure! Hold this pose for about 20-30 seconds.
4. Standing Side Stretch to Standing Back Bend
Wait, why are we doing a posture focused on your upper-body before a run? Isn’t running all lower-body? The Standing Side Stretch and Standing Back Bend are in this runners pre-workout posture list because it helps you breathe better. Not only that, it also helps to improve your posture, keeping you more upright, and using your core more. The standing side stretches help to activate your obliques, while the standing back bend is awesome for engaging your other abdominal muscle groups. The immediate results are improved cardiovascular ability, an activated core, and reduced pressure on your lower-back, so you can run faster and longer! Hold this pose for 30 seconds in all 3 positions (right, left, back)..
5. Warrior 2
While many of the other postures on this list don’t look very yoga-y, Warrior 2 is the most yoga-esque posture we’ve got on this list. We’ve added this to the list mainly for the glute activation involved, but also for the hip mobility, chest opening, and core activation benefits that it provides. This is another one of those postures in which you should focus on the strengthening and muscle activation aspects, rather than trying to get as deep as possible into the pose.
There are many elements involved in this posture, which make it ideal in terms of bang for your buck. Warrior 2 engages your glutes, turns on your inner thighs (knee stabilizers), modestly opens your hips, engages your core, improves your posture, and even stretches your ankles. With all of the benefits that come from doing this one posture, how could we resist? Hold Warrior 2 for 20 – 30 seconds.
Improve your running efficiency, increase muscle activation, reduce strain on your ankles, knees, and lower-back, and run better! Just incorporate these simple postures into your pre-running routine, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
I hope you got something out of this!
These postures were specifically selected for runners, but you can use these for before other workouts as well. These poses can be done on a daily basis – use them often, and you’ll notice results sooner, particularly in the form of improved muscle activation, a more efficient run, less back or knee pain, and even faster mile times.
Ready for more?
Tomorrow’s lesson covers the best 5 yoga postures to improve your strength as a runner. More than using yoga as a warm-up and a cooldown, you can greatly improve your performance as a runner by supplementing your workout program with yoga workouts to strengthen your body in ways traditional exercise does not, notably in balance, mobility, and core strength.