You see them wherever you go: jogging along the boardwalk, through parks, sidewalks. There they are in the mornings, before the sun rises, and there they are at night, after a long day, leaving their skin in shorts and high socks … It’s official: runners they are a plague. A well-informed one, yes: between the tricks that they comment in their clubs, what they read in the magazines and the all rolled circulating on social networks, there is little that fans of burning sole do not already know about the series, about how to take advantage of rest days and about the fartlek (from Swedish, “play with speed”). Most of them know well that they should include strength work and stretching in their routines, but not so many apply the story – that the reader wonders if it is among them … -. Fewer runners are still aware that one option to introduce these two terms into the equation and be faster, more flexible, resistant, as well as less prone to injury, is to combine the runs with exercises of yoga. But it is like this.
To put the hips in place, less sole and more mat
At the very idea of signing up for a yoga class, the first thing that occurs to an undocumented person of asanas (this is what the postures are called, which are held between 30 seconds and 2 minutes) may have a certain insubstantial whiff anti-stress therapy. And it is true that yoga provides tools to develop mental toughness and self-control. It is also true that these resources can be very useful if you have to prepare a half marathon while you are in charge of making ends meet, amidst the tensions of bosses and brothers-in-law — imagine an ultra-long-distance race. But insubstantial? Nothing of that. Yes, there is a component anti-stress in yoga, by itself important, but offers much more. Too strengthens muscles through isometric exercises, in which a position is held for a long time, and isotonic, a term that refers to dynamic movements. In addition, it can help to adopt a more efficient breathing pattern, which implies increasing endurance and the ability to cover greater distances with less fatigue. Running is not just about moving your legs.
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As if that were not enough, yoga may be among the resources to address the three problems that all runner worth its salt must face sooner or later. The first, that running muscles the legs much more than the upper body, so it is advisable to look for an exercise that tones the trunk and arms. The second problem is that, no matter how cardiovascular this exercise is, if you want to improve your performance you must dedicate time to strength work: it is the secret to run faster without taking an extra stride. Lastly, too many popular runners tend to stretch less than they should after workouts, which ultimately leads to lack of mobility and flexibility, even the shortening of some muscles.
The yoga instructor Irene Alda explains how this discipline can help in all these circumstances, especially in what has to do with the last point. Among other things, Alda teaches specific yoga workshops for runners. Since she was a competitive athlete in her day, she knows well the imbalances of strength and flexibility that can appear when one becomes fond of running. “When running you get resistance and strength, but flexibility decreases without a correct program of stretching and mobility. Doing yoga regularly helps improve and maintain flexibility while running, and flexible joints will allow your body to find a more efficient stride, ”he explains.
Elasticity will make us strong and flexible if we choose the right movements and the right moment. Otherwise, everything is damages
Alda assures that “greater joint mobility in the feet, hips and spine will eliminate tension and will serve to prevent and heal typical injuries of runners, such as hamstring shortening, tendonitis, goose foot, plantar fasciitis, and low back pain”. In his own experience, in countless ways yoga is presented to us there are also pearls that help in the recovery chapter: “One of my great recommendations is to do the legs against the wall posture every day (viparita Karani) for 10 minutes before going to bed: you stretch your calves and, incidentally, your hamstrings passively. Personally, I have observed that it helps me to recover a lot after a hard training or a long run ”. Alda has a lot more tips.
Six asanas to run like a yogi
When you run a kilometer, your foot hits the ground about 800 times with the force of two or three times your weight. No wonder runners routinely complain of back pain (a case where you can still exercise) and knee … But it is not running that causes the discomfort, but bodily imbalances at the time of offsetting the impact. The problem is that the flexibility of the hip is reduced and the hamstrings are shortened, which are the muscles of the back of the thigh, responsible for the flexion of the leg, and, if the hip does not have enough flexibility, the movement that should do when running moves to another part of the body, probably the lower back. Over time, an injury may appear.
Work to improve hip flexibility with yoga for runners is based on three asanas: the frog (mandukasana), the posture of the runner or equestrian (ashwa Sanchalanasana) and the hero (virasana). They can be done after training, holding each one between 15 and 30 seconds, but never without warming up (in the warm-up section, yoga offers the famous sun salutation, a sequence of postures that can be added to the routine of preparation for a good session).
Twenty minutes of salutation to the sun count as aerobic exercise, but its virtues do not end there
To make the frog, you have to kneel on the mat, so that the knees are as open as possible. Then the feet are separated so that they are aligned with them, the body is lowered forward until the elbows are resting on the ground and it is held in this position. The runner’s posture begins standing up, taking a long step with one leg, bending it and stretching the opposite. The toes of the leg that is behind are supported, so that the heel points upwards, and one concentrates in that the pelvis is kept low and the hips are facing forward, level. Important: take care that the bent knee does not exceed the tip of the foot, like in a good squat. To adopt the position of the hero, it is necessary to kneel, with these joints together and the feet apart. The uppers have to touch the surface of the mat. Then you have to sit on your buttocks and lean back, with your elbows resting on the floor if possible. Whoever gets to put their whole back in contact with the ground has a reward: the stretch will be more intense.
As for the asanas that help you increase the flexibility of the hamstrings (remember, the muscles in the back of the thighs), the downward facing dog position stands out (adho mukha svanasana), la del sauce (janu sirsasana) and the half-split. To start downward facing dog stand up, touch the ground with your hands and, with a jump or a couple of steps back, position yourself in an inverted vee. With your arms and legs straight, bring your hips toward the ceiling and keep your back as straight as possible. This is the quintessential posture for stretching the hamstrings how much some punish runners. To make the willow, sit on the mat with your back straight and your legs straight. Bend one leg so that the foot touches the inside of the opposite thigh, raise your arms and lean forward toward the straight foot. When you’re done, repeat the sequence with the other leg.
The mid-split stance deserves a separate mention. The first thing is to stand up and throw one leg back, until you reach the runner’s position. Then you have to support the knee of the limb that is stretched and raise the body, while stretching the leg that was bent. To give you an idea of the result: it is reminiscent of a front split, only that the pelvis does not reach the floor (if you are able to do that easily, it does not seem that you need to work much flexibility). It is advisable to rest your hands on two blocks located on the sides so as not to round your back, and alternate both legs so that the exercise be complete.