Yoga For Runners, By Runnersat the races education just for fun newton running athletes overcoming injury social responsibility training tips
1 November 2023
Newton Athlete, Savannah Athlete of the Year, Elite Runner, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Yoga instructor (busy lady) Meghan Duffy is sharing a yoga routine for runners and why it is beneficial.
Since I started a regular power yoga practice in 2021, I can’t help but notice the similarities between yoga and running. Weird, right? On the surface they look pretty different. I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to make my first Venn diagram since third grade.
On to yoga...I don’t like to speak in generalities because every BODY is different - but I’m going to speak in generalities anyway so buckle up. People who spend a decent amount of time running or use running as their primary form of exercise tend to have tight hips, tight hamstrings, tight ankles/calves, tight shoulders, and a thoracic kyphosis/forward head posture that allows my husband to pick a runner out of a crowd (it’s a game he likes to play - “I bet that person is a runner”). A lot of these musculoskeletal generalities are also true for people who sit for extended periods of time. So if you’re running in the morning, then sitting at a desk all day, you get double bonus points - well done!
A lot of overuse injuries in runners come from lateral hip weakness. Whether you’ve had ITB syndrome, runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, even shin splints - if you went to physical therapy (or googled it), you probably found some lateral hip strengthening exercises (clamshells, hip abduction with a resistance band, step ups/downs, single leg anythings looking in a mirror to keep your knee in alignment). These are great & definitely have their place, but what if you could do all of your lateral hip strengthening in a heated room with your friends while working on your general mobility and balance too?!
[Enter yoga] (applause)
First of all, the heated room makes you feel 10 years younger by warming up your muscles and tendons to increase elasticity, allowing mobility that you don’t access when your body is in the AC (or when you skip your warm-up before a run - please stop doing that). Then the power yoga sequence throws you into moving and breathing in this new mobility, while challenging your strength, balance, and coordination all at once in a way that is FUN. It feels GOOD! Yoga is injury prevention, single leg balance, lateral hip strengthening, mobility training, foot intrinsic strengthening, active recovery and restoration. A lot of runners leave these boxes unchecked, but you can check them all in one hour! It’s also moving, breathing, trying, learning, and growing which is always a good idea physically AND mentally.
Poses for lateral hip strengthening and single leg balance:
Crescent lunge (into crescent lunge twist)
Warrior 1, 2, and 3
Halfmoon (transitioning between airplane and half moon for reps is my favorite!)
Bridge (SL bridge is more specific to running since each leg has to be able to do its job!)
Poses for hip/hamstring opening:
Wide Leg Forward Fold
Half King Pigeon
Seated forward fold
Poses for shoulder/chest/thoracic spine opening:
Upward facing dog
Crescent lunge twist
King dancer (this is the triple threat for lateral hip strengthening, balance, AND shoulder opening!)
These poses are great as individual poses, but they’re even better in a sequence, and simpler with a teacher present, so my number one recommendation is find a power yoga studio near you or online, and TRY IT. Just try it. Just like you don’t have to be a runner to run, you don’t have to be a yogi to do yoga. Just be you who loves to run, and you who is willing to give yoga a shot.
Shameless plug - if you want ME to teach you yoga, come to class virtually on Wednesdays at 6am (EST) via Savannah Power Yoga (https://savannahpoweryoga.com/) on Zoom! I love to teach runners because I see your tight hips and I feel your tight hamstrings. Ask me for modifications, because I probably do them too! Just like running is for every BODY, yoga is too (adding that to the Venn diagram!!). I’m not a runner or a yogi. I’m just me who loves to run, and me who loves to do (and now teach) yoga.