The best thing you can do to make the most out of your mileage and optimize your chances of crushing your goals this year is to sustain balance. Let's face it: running causes imbalance. It’s nearly exclusively a forward motion in the same plane, overworking certain muscles, while leaving other sleepy, tight, and weak.
The good news is that a little bit of functional yoga goes a long way to mitigating common pavement pounding issues. The key is to focus on poses that address run-specific imbalances, and do them consistently.
Here's how to use yoga to prevent three super common running imbalances in less than five minutes a day:
Imbalance: lazy booty
Your glutes are the boss of your “push off.” They power your stride and propel you forward. The problem is that they're often lazy, forcing other muscles to work harder than they should, not to mention limiting your power.
Solution: cop a feel + activate
Activate your butt pre-run with Chair pose, using your hands for extra feedback about what's going on back there...
- Stand with your feet hip’s width apart and parallel, evenly distributing your weight across your feet.
- Bend your knees to come into a squat with your knees tracking in line your ankles.
- Bring one hand to each cheek where your butt meets your hamstrings and focus on engaging glute max—the largest, lower portion of you glutes. Try to feel the area under each of your hands firing evenly on both you right and left sides.
- Hold for 5+ deep breaths.
Watch: More booty strengthening.
Imbalance: angry lower legs
Your calves are dense, making them susceptible to fluid build up and, ultimately, leading to kinds of lower leg injuries if you fail to address them.
Solution: pump yo calves
Use this one-stop shop for increasing circulation, tone, and pliability in dense lower leg musculature post-workout.
- Step your feet wider that hip’s width apart, rotating your legs so that your heels turn in/toes out.
- Bend your knees deeply to come down into a squat, resting your hands on the floor between your legs.
- Lift your heels as high as you can.
- Drop your heels toward the floor.
- Continue for 20 reps.
Imbalance: forward flop
Running can easily make your chest tight, which “hunches” your shoulders forward. Tight pecs (chest muscles) will also cause your arms to cross your body — especially as you get tired — rather than move forward/back. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself rounding forward and flopping side-to-side as your torso strains to compensate for inefficiency through your arms.
Solution: stretch your chest
Pre-, post-, and even mid-run this simple pec stretch will help you maintain good upper body form, not to mention make more space for your breath thereby increasing your endurance.
- Stand with your feet hip's width apart and parallel.
- Interlace your fingers at your low back — if that feels tough hold a belt/tie/scarf between your hands instead.
- Reach your hands down and away from you.
- Take 5+ deep breaths, focusing on lifting and expanding your chest.
If you know that you're particularly prone to any of the aforementioned issues, be sure to check out Jasyoga Video for more remedies to keep your running bod balanced in the year ahead.
Happy running and resetting!
Photo Credit: Claire Pepper