Yoga is well-known for helping you to alleviate stress and to make your body stronger and more flexible. Less well-known is how yoga can help you to become a better runner.
While running faster on longer and more challenging courses can help you to improve your overall finish time and endurance, adding yoga to your routine can enhance your training and help you to have even greater speed and endurance.
Here are just a few ways that yoga can help you to become a better runner:
Strengthens Stabilizing Muscles
You need strong quadriceps and hamstrings to run fast and to run long. Without these strong primary muscles, you would have to work much harder and expend much more energy. However, these primary muscles are not the only important muscles for running. Many stabilizing muscles are also important, such as those in your feet, ankles, calves, and hips.
Yoga helps to make these stabilizing muscles stronger, helping you to be a more efficient runner and reducing your overall chance of injury.
Strengthens Your Core
Your core muscles — abdomen and back — help you to stabilize your body during exercise and your everyday activities. A strong core helps you to perform exercise more efficiently, helping you to get a stronger workout and to reduce your chance of injury.
Yoga is one of the best ways to strengthen your core, as many of the movements focus on these muscles. Strengthening your core will help you to maintain proper form when you’re running so that you run faster and reduce your risk of injury.
Tight muscles with limited movement can increase your risk of injury. When your muscles are not properly stretched, or do not have a wide range of movement, a lot of big movements — such as you make when running — can lead to muscle strains and tears and other injuries.
Yoga helps make your muscles more flexible and gives them a greater range of movement, making them more responsive to running and to a variety of other exercises.
Proper breathing can help your body process oxygen more efficiently during exercise, making sure that your muscles are well-supplied. Ensuring that your muscles have enough oxygen during exercise means that you will be able to perform your activity more easily and that your muscles will have what they need to perform, reducing the likelihood of strains and other injuries.
Yoga teaches you to focus on your breathing so that your muscles will have an adequate supply of oxygen. Focusing on your breathing also creates a kind of meditative state, which removes some of the mental barriers to exercise — such as those nagging thoughts about how you just “can’t” get over the next hill or you’ll “never” be able to make it through the next 10 miles.
Enhances Body Awareness
One of the greatest things that yoga teaches is greater body awareness, which can help you to perform any physical exercise more efficiently. A greater mind-body connection can help you to become more aware of your body’s subtle cues, helping you to know when you are capable of doing more, when you can push yourself, and when you need to cut back to avoid injury.
You can often feel like you’ve reached your limit when running. In contrast, it is also easy to push yourself too far and to become injured. The mind-body connection that yoga teaches can help you know how to recognize these situations and act appropriately to reach your greatest potential as a runner.
While yoga and running may seem incompatible — one teaches slow, quiet movement while the other involves fast, heart-pounding movement — yoga is actually quite complimentary to a running practice. Yoga teaches a focus on breathing and a greater mind-body connection, while also strengthening key muscles and helping to make the body more flexible. All of these things can help you to run faster, to be stronger, and to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for bedbugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State, with a degree in environmental science. Her current focus for the site involves researching bed bug pics specifically, bed bugs nyc.