Counteracting the Strain of Running with Yoga

Last week, I attended a yoga workshop at the local gym called “Strengthening and Stretching for Runners”. The main idea behind the session was to introduce basic yoga poses that you could perform before and after a run that would enhance your running and prevent injury. Confession: I am a terrible stretcher. I never stretch before a run and occasionally dedicate enough time to cool down properly post run. I thought this workshop might be just what I needed to motivate me to introduce proper stretching into my routine.

To start off the workshop Bev Akhurst from Eastside Fitness took us through a quick anatomy lesson so we could discuss the major muscles involved in running and their primary function.  We focused primarily on the following muscles:

  • The Quads stabilize the knee and help absorb the shock of impact as you land.
  • The Hamstrings straighten your hip and begin to bend your knee. They also help you lift you knee for the runners ‘kick’.
  •  Your Calf Muscles extend and flex each foot as you land and push off. These muscles also help absorb impact and give you the spring in your stride.
  • Strong Glutes (Gluteus Maximus) help stabilize the trunk and keep you upright. These muscles contribute to good running form and alignment.
  •  Hip Flexors (illiopsoas) work with the quads and hamstrings to move the legs forward and back.

imagesOnce we had the anatomy tour and a good understanding of what muscles we were dealing with, we moved our focus to the yoga poses we could do to counteract these movements.  We went through a variety of poses that ranged from a simple Forward Fold to a twisting variation of Downward Dog (which may take me a few more tries before I get the hang of it).  Some poses focused on warming up and opening tight opposing muscles such as the Wide Leg Forward Fold. Others focused more on strength such as the Chair Pose which stretches and strengthens the glutes.  Overall, the exercises focused on counteracting the stresses of running to improve form/balance and prevent injury.

I think the biggest thing I got out of this workshop was an increased awareness of the impact that my hobby might have on my body. Running on a regular basis has many benefits, but it can also be one of the more physically exerting activities and cause common injuries such as Runner’s Knee, Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Achilles Tendinitis .  I will definitely be more mindful of my body and treat it with care.

This workshop also inspired me to bring yoga into other areas of my life. I decided to switch things up a bit after a long day of snowboarding and head to an apres yoga class rather than the usual apres activity of beer at the pub. Apres never felt so good! Thanks to Bev and Eastside Fitness for the inspiration and a great workshop.


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