Most runners will be the first people to admit that they’re a little hesitant to give yoga a try. Dedicated runners are some of the fittest athletes there are, and most runners are known to engage in both a pre and post-run stretch. Many wonder why they would even need yoga, and don’t realize what they’re missing, however, is stretching the entire body. More often than not, runners skip stretching muscles in the upper body, which leads to unbalance and instability throughout the entire muscular system. Runners also carry most of their strength in their legs, and their upper bodies can miss out on the conditioning they need to keep their strength balanced throughout their entire body. Not just good for stretching the whole body and creating balance with upper body strength, yoga has a tremendous amount to offer runners (both physical and mental) when added to their normal fitness routine.
5 Benefits of Yoga for Runners
While runners have exceptional strength in areas of the body that relate to running, they often miss out on strengthening other areas of the body. Running mainly uses the muscles from the hips down and only in one back and forth movement. Yoga, on the other hand, incorporates the use of the muscles of the entire body and offers strength to parts of the body that tend to get neglected by runners. Arms, upper torso, back, and abdominal muscles are all worked in normal yoga routines, and the added body strength will greatly benefit runners. Strength in the upper body and core will allow arms and legs to move more fluidly while running and help create better form.
As the main reason most runners decide to give yoga a try, increased flexibility is a huge advantage for runners. Not only does yoga help stretch the muscles that become tight during running, but also helps to increase flexibility and movement in areas that rarely receive the stretching they need such as the ankles and Achilles Tendon. With increased flexibility comes decreased stiffness, as well as superior ease of movement. Another great benefit of increased flexibility? Less aches and pains that often accompany the lives of many runners.
While runners are some of the healthiest athletes on the planet, the overuse of some muscles while underusing others tends to create an imbalance in the entire system. When some muscles are underused, the risk of injury is increased. A healthy balance is to both contract and stretch muscles to maintain equilibrium. While yoga poses may seem simple enough, they rely on the balanced action of contrasting muscle groups.
Anyone that engages in a long run knows that distance running takes extreme mental focus. Yoga is one of the best disciplines to increase mental focus and keep the mind calm under pressure. When a yoga routine is added to a runner’s training schedule, it will help increase focus and mental clarity when needed the most. Yoga will help runners to maintain a calm mind and the steady pace needed to keep endurance at its highest.
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