Yoga is a highly therapeutic practice for runners. Often utilised to prevent injuries such as shin splints, glutes/piriformis and hip flexor pain, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, lower back niggles, tight shoulders and shoulder blade pain. We’ll be working through some yoga poses which will help to tackle all of these problem areas.
Poses to prevent or ease common runner's conditions:
1. Shin Splints
Half splits. Set your legs up in a lunge position. Bring the back knee down to the floor and untuck the back toes. Bring the fingertips down to either side of the front foot. Start to bring the hips back to straighten the front leg.
Try to keep the front toes down on the floor and straighten the leg as best you can (use the thigh muscle to lift the kneecap rather than locking out the joint). Inhale, lift the chest and lengthen the spine. Exhale, fold over the front leg. Try not to let the hips swing out, keep them square to the front. Take at least five relaxed breaths.
Next, flex the front foot, keeping the toes engaged and pointing upwards. You may have to bring the hands back towards the body a little to keep your balance. Inhale, lift and lengthen. Exhale, fold over the leg. Try and keep the back as straight as possible.
2. Hip Flexors
Lizard pose. From lunge legs, heel to toe the front foot out to the side. Plant both hands on the mat to the inside of the leg. Rock back and forth easing into the hip (this might be easier with the back knee off the floor). After a few breaths, if you feel you can, lower down onto the forearms (you can use a block to lean on). Keep the chest lifted and look forward. To deepen the stretch keep the back leg off the floor and press out through the heel. Keep the back knee pressing up to the ceiling.
3. Plantar Fasciitis Relief
Toe stretch. From all fours tuck the toes under and start to sit back on the heels. Using the breath, you can rock in and out of the pose.
4. Tight Calves
A simple squat is great for lengthening out the calf muscles. Bring the feet comfortably apart and bring the bottom down to the heels. Try and keep the whole foot rooted firmly down. If you can’t manage this prop your heels up with blocks. Lift the chest and bring the palms together. Use the elbows to press out the knees. Take a few breaths here.
5. Foot Massage
A quick foot massage can bring relief to tired feet. As well as pressing up and down the sole of the foot, with the palm on the sole try interlacing the fingers between the toes. Bend the toes back and forward. Release the fingers and give the foot a few slaps on the sole to bring some life back into the foot.
6. Lower Back Release
Extended child’s pose. From all fours rest the bottom down onto the heels. Extend the arms out in front and relax the forehead down on the mat. Keep the elbows off the floor and use the heels of the hands to press the weight back and down.
7. Cooling Breath
If you ever start to overheat try this cooling breath. Curl the tongue so it’s like a straw. Take a few breaths through the tongue and feel the cool air passing over the surface area. For those who can’t curl the tongue try bringing the teeth close together and breathing through an open mouth for a similar cooling effect.