I love running. Yes, I do. But when I started my weight loss journey, I was hesitant in resuming my regular running schedule because I was worried about my knees. I was fully aware that not being careful with a running regimen can expose me to injuries: knees, hamstrings, lower back. The repetitive nature of running brings imbalance to the body and causes muscles to stiffen. After a long run, I can fully feel the strain on my hamstrings, knees, shin and feet. Imagine all the pounding your muscles take from running for more than an hour. Repeat this process 2-3 times a week.
Due to limited time, we are often tempted to skip warming up, cooling down and stretching. This is a recipe for injury. In order to counter the effects of repetitive strain, we need to loosen our muscles through stretching. Yoga is a great way to do this. Esther Ekhart would advice doing some yoga to warm up before and cooling down/stretching after running. Doing yoga for warm up helps prepares our muscles. After running, cooling down with yoga balances the strenuous pounding our body took.
When I was training, I used to do regular stretches, pre- and post- run. Apparently, this has a disadvantage because regular stretches focus on one particular area. Besides, we get tempted to short-cut the exercises (e.g. counting 1 to 8 too fast). With yoga, we focus on the whole body; elongating, loosening and bringing back balance into our body. Further, the flow of breath results in a more relaxed, but at the same time, alert mind. Finally, doing yoga in a class makes sure that we don’t take short cuts.
Before I fell in love with running, I was fairly flexible. Over the years, I did not notice how stiff my muscles became due to running, particularly my hamstrings, hips and calves. Until I started practicing yoga regularly. Then I noticed how difficult it was for me to touch my toes – this was a fairly easy feat for me before I took up running. With regular yoga, I increased my flexibility and strengthened core and other muscles that get weakened by repetitive strain. Further, yoga taught me to listen to my body and know my limitations. In the end, this greatly helped me avoid injuries.
Yoga for Runners (yogajournal.com)
Yoga for Runners (ekhartyoga.com)