If you’re looking for a way to boost your running performance without logging more hours on the treadmill than your Netflix account, yoga is exactly what you’re looking for. Athletes are often quick to dismiss the benefits of yoga only to find later that it can be a tremendously helpful cross-training tool. Sometimes it takes an injury for a runner to experience the power of yoga. We don’t want you to wait that long! Here are ten of the benefits we think are the most important for runners.
- Prevents injury. Running often causes muscle tightness, and can even shorten the calf muscle over time! This kind of repeated strain on the muscles can lead to an injury that could have been prevented with proper stretching. As you probably already know, yoga increases flexibility. What you might not have known is that with increased flexibility comes increased range of motion in the joints. As a result, you avoid undue stress on certain parts of the body that perform repeated activity during runs.
- Returns the body to balance. Yoga doesn’t only improve balance in the “don’t fall over” sense of the word, but also balance between the two sides of the body. Muscle imbalances can sometimes cause runners can favor one side over the other, stressing that side of body. The chronic pain runners face is often caused by muscle imbalances that can be corrected through yoga.
- Guarantees stretch time. Yoga provides the much needed post-run stretching that many runners are guilty of skipping from time to time. Incorporating some yoga into your routine is a guaranteed way to get your stretching in regularly.
- Serves as active recovery. Yoga can benefit both injury recovery and just normal recovery after an intense workout. It’s a growing part of physical therapy programs for injured athletes. Moving through a yoga flow can actually shorten the duration of muscle soreness too!
- Increases mental toughness. As you know, running is a very mental sport. Getting to know your body through yoga allows you to push yourself even further during your runs. Also, yoga can be considered a type of moving meditation allowing you to better translate meditative qualities to your run.
- Teaches breath control. The intentional deep breathing in yoga class sends more oxygen to all the cells in the body providing an immediate boost as well as a lasting effect on breath control. Becoming aware of breathing patterns during yoga increases the likelihood that you’ll notice the effect of your breath on your next run. Ultimately, optimizing your breathing strategy will result in a boost in endurance.
- Increases oxygen capacity. Not only is breath control important, but a regular practice of pranayamas teaches you how to access the full capacity of your lungs. No more shallow breathing!
- Strengthens all the muscle groups. Yoga strengthens major and minor muscle groups just using your own body weight. The minor muscles may not be used as much in running, but can be beneficial in taking your speed and endurance to the next level.
- Boosts core power. The most important muscle group that yoga strengthens is the core. Developing a strong core is essential for proper running posture which will make you run more efficiently.
- Helps you become more energy efficient. The last time you heard about something being energy efficient was probably the time you were shopping for a light bulb. Being energy efficient while running, especially over long distances, is incredibly important for developing endurance. The relaxation and awareness from yoga can help make your energy expenditure more efficient.
Now that you know how yoga can be an important aspect to training, learn more about Incorporating Yoga Into Your Workouts. Whether you go 1 mile or 20, just keep yoga in mind!
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