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Can Yoga do for runners, what it has done for Jen Aniston?

by Danny Orr
Wednesday 29th June 2011
Tags  Danny Orr   |   Yoga
When dealing with runners on a daily basis, one comment I use more than any other is “Listen to your Body”, whether it be about fatigue in training, changing gait patterns or recovering from injury. Our bodies are our best indicator of how we are actually doing and the feedback we get from it will go a long way towards ensuring that we enjoy fun, stress free and pain free running.

The best way to become more in tune with our bodies, and receive a greater understanding of how it works, and interpret the messages it is sending us is through yoga....In yoga circles this will be referred to as ‘body wisdom’ where you are encouraged to pay attention to the signals your body is sending you, developing a certain intuition allowing you to respond to the signals in the best way.

When we think about yoga in the context of running immediately we think about increased flexibility, which is true however personally I believe it goes further than that.

As an example the average runner running 20 miles a week will make on average 1 330 000 foot strikes per year with an impact of 2-4 times our body weight each time. Obviously this is a fair amount for our body’s to cope with and therefore it is not unusual for runners to develop issues or niggles (Back, Knee, Lower Leg, Foot etc) due to repetitive stress.

As human being we all have certain imbalances and what running can do is introduce new imbalances or further increase the imbalances we already have (repetitive stress) leading to additional issues. As a runner we introduce impact, muscle tightening and shortening, without often doing enough loosening and lengthening to compensate for the work our body’s are doing. In this environment any instability or imbalance will lead to stronger/tighter muscles getting tighter and weak muscle getting weaker only increasing the imbalance, opening the door to discomfort and injury. Tight muscles also become hard and inflexible, that reduces range of motion and the body’s natural mechanisms for absorbing shock. This can lead to muscle tears as well as additional stress on joints that are now being over worked.

Now I am not saying that yoga is a miracle cure to all running related injuries, as strong, supple and balance runners can still develop problems. However our body’s are made up of numerous working parts with many being activated while running. An improvement in our balance, alignment, strength and flexibility can improve our efficiency and reduce our imbalances and the chance of injury.

Yoga and ‘Body Wisdom’ is all about balance, relaxation, breathing and flexibility which are all important aspects in running. In the case of balance we are talking about correcting our imbalances that can lead to problems. Breathing and relaxation go together allowing us to react effectively to each environment and manage our energy levels correctly while exercising. And lastly flexibility to ensure our muscles work correctly with an optimum range of motion and the correct balance between strength/tightness and weakness.

All of these elements are important in injury free running and keeping it that way, but can also go a long way towards helping you recover from current problems you may have.

Just remember... Listen to your Body....


About The Author

Danny Orr

Danny is a specialist in running biomechanics and footwear. With 5 years experience prescribing custom orthotics, and worked with various footwear brands consulting on footwear performance, product and design.


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A Yoga Class for Runners

by poundingpavement
16:13, Thursday 7th July 2011
If you want to try yoga, Suka Sport in central London has weekly classes specially designed for runners. As Danny says, yoga isn't a miracle cure, but regular yoga has been proven again and again to aid runners in every aspect of their training. Thanks, Danny.
TereréJordan Blood