By Faye Martins
Running is a passion for many people, but it takes quite a toll on the human body over time. Pairing a demanding physical activity such as running with yoga helps to reduce the likelihood of strain and injury.
There are many passionate runners out there, and they all seem to agree that injuries are a price one must pay for experiencing the freedom and rush that a good run provides. Surprisingly, running is not as complete of a workout as many runners would like to believe, but this is fortunately easy to resolve with the addition of hatha yoga to the exercise routine.
Runners benefit from yoga practice for a variety of different reasons. Runners are some of the most injury prone athletes in the world, and part of this stems from inflexible, rigid muscles. Running does indeed build strong, powerful muscles, but they are quite short and stiff. When one is out on a run they may feel like they are experiencing a large range of motion, but in reality they are not. Running is a small, repetitive movement that varies very little, and leads to limited muscular development.
Many individuals believe muscular flexibility is unimportant, but this is a mistake. Muscles provide the shock absorption in the human frame, and the amount of shock they are able to absorb is determined by the muscular flexibility. Inflexible muscles therefore are an indirect cause of the majority of running injuries.
Shock absorption is an important matter when an individual is engaging in an activity that puts such tremendous weight on the body. The force of impact with each footfall during a run is 3-4 times the total bodyweight of the runner. An average mile has over a thousand footfalls. Think of what that does to the delicate cartilage of the joints.
Adding hatha yoga to a running lifestyle brings the body back into balance and stretches those rigid muscles, increasing the shock absorption of the body. This makes each footfall feel lighter and easier. This is important, because if the footfalls feel wrong the body will automatically compensate by shifting the center of gravity in order to reduce the strain. This may work for the short term, but for the long term it leads to injury.
Another added benefit that yoga for runners offers is an increase in lung capacity. This is especially attractive for marathon runners, who need all of the endurance they can get. Yoga poses are done in conjunction with the flow of the breath, and this automatically increases the aerobic capacity in an individual.
For runners, a simple 20 minute yoga session daily is all that’s needed to see great benefit, though sessions could certainly go longer if desired. By pairing yoga with running, runners may enjoy the rush and thrill of a good run for the rest of their lives.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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