Yoga and running, the perfect marriage of strength and flexibility
Sabina knows this from experience. As an avid (some call her insane) runner, who runs 20 k every morning before breakfast and runs 3 or 4 full marathons a year; she’s been injury-free for the past 8 years thanks to my other passion, practising yoga every day.
Every time you run for a mile, your foot will strike the pavement an average of 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your weight. It’s no wonder that runners often complain of tight hamstrings, sore feet, back pain and bad knees. Running exacerbates imbalances, and practising yoga is the perfect way to prevent and correct those imbalances. In fact, running and yoga make a good marriage of strength and flexibility.
As a runner, you will experience too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles, and to compensate for that you will need enough restorative, loosening and elongating work. Without it, your body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability, putting stress on your muscles, joints, and bones. Tight muscles will inevitably get tighter and weak muscles will get weaker. Weak muscles cause the joints to rub and grind, and that can bring tears.
Muscle tightness happens when you train in a repetitive manner, performing the same actions over and over again with a focus on external technique; resulting in a body that is structurally unaligned and too tight.
Yoga will also teach you how to coordinate your breath with movement so that eventually your body, mind, and breath will be integrated in all actions.
Practising yoga will teach you to listen and respond to messages the body sends you. When you run, your body produces a lot of endorphin. These “feel good” chemicals also double as nature’s painkillers, which can mask pain and the onset of injury or illness. By building body awareness one can start to listen to the body’s signals.
Any athlete’s worst enemy is tension, and breath awareness is key to reducing it. Conscious breathing exercises soothe the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and relax the entire body.
So, as often as you can, take your running shoes off and join me at a yoga class specially designed for a runner’s needs, and keep enjoying running for many years to come!