After a run or cross training session, how do your muscles feel? Tired? Tight? Sore?
Sometimes we try to train our bodies to endure pain and tight muscles by going on long runs and then going straight to the weight room. Or trying to run during a lunch break and then jump right back into the office at a cramped desk. Yes, the run logged may have satisfied the miles needed for that week's mileage, but did it do the body more harm than good because of what was done AFTER the run?
Yoga and stretching is a necessary element of being an all around great runner. Stretching is important to your muscles for many reasons. Stretching improves flexibility and helps lengthen tight muscles to improve posture. Stretching prepares your muscles for work before a workout and relieves muscles after a work out by increasing blood and nutrient supply directly to the muscles. This ultimately means less soreness and improved performance.
Yoga has been used to strengthen runners' external flexibility and performance, but also strengthen one's mental focus and fitness as well. Practicing yoga creates a sense of oneness and centers in on how you feel and what your muscles and breath are telling you. While doing the forward bend, your legs are shaking and your breath begins to come out of sync... Yoga is about noticing your breath is out of sync and listening to your shaking legs. Take it easy, don't over-stretch. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
The increased power and flexibility you gain from yoga helps prevent injury and trains other muscles that you may not normally use to engage to help more dominant muscles from injury. Increasing the flexibility of your body increases its range of motion, therefore increasing your body function as a whole. This control over body function goes hand in hand with control of the breath. Muscle & Fitness magazine agrees that "getting in touch with your breath can help establish breathing patterns and access parts of your respiratory system that you didn't even know you could control." This means that those side stitches during a run can be a thing of the past! Not only does yoga help you discover more muscle control , but it also promotes active recovery and muscle repair that every active individual needs.
Runner's World provides a great way to start a yoga routine that is focused on runners and their muscles' needs. Give the sequence a try and let us know how you like it!
Videos Available at Runner's World website: http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-world-yoga-center