Jen Portman is the owner of Synergy Hot Yoga in Fair Haven. She is also our Yoga guru here at RunJersey.com. After taking her Hot Yoga (H26) classes last year, we felt an immediate and obvious impact on our running. For more information on Jen and her amazing studio, please go to www.synergyhotyoga.com
Five Ways Yoga Can Make You a Better Runner
By Jen Portman
If you still think ‘updog’ and ‘downdog’ are canine commands, or that plank is something you walk off into the sea, you’re clearly missing the boat when it comes to the latest training techniques. More runners now understand the huge strides to be made by incorporating yoga in to their training regimen. So, if you want a leg up on your competition, or simply want to continue running comfortably into your golden years, you should consider yoga. Here are five ways yoga can improve your running.
1. Enhanced flexibility and range of motion
Flexibility and range of motion are two important factors in determining your running efficiency and speed. The more you run, the tighter you become-particularly in the hips and hamstrings. Your body has to work around this tightness increasing energy expenditure and decreasing stride efficiency. Being more flexible – having ‘normal’ range of motion in your hips, knees and ankles- enables you to be more efficient with easier and faster turnover.
2. Reduction of injuries
Severe muscle tightness also puts unnecessary stress on the muscles, joints and entire skeletal system. Practicing yoga strengthens the muscles and ligaments that support the knee and ankle joints. And, stretching and lengthening the muscles increases blood flow and oxygen circulation, and helps work out? scar tissue. Yoga helps strengthen the upper body, often lacking in runners, without adding bulk. This gives the body better overall balance. Practicing yoga also gives your body rest from the physical stress of repetitive motion and pounding while still giving you a full body workout.
3. Greater core strength
Practicing yoga on a regular basis can greatly improve your core strength. Of course, we all love the look of the six pack muscles we can develop from crunches, but yoga strengthens the deeper and more important transverse abdominus, the multifidous muscles and those of the pelvic floor. When these muscles work together, they create a corseting effect which stabilizes the pelvis and lower back and encourages the spine to bend in a healthy way.
4. Increased mental focus
Concentrating on performing the postures helps clear your mind of unnecessary “clutter” so it can focus on the task at hand. Increased mental discipline, and the ability to stay calm in difficult circumstances can help you on those long, lonely training runs, as well as in the heat of intense competition.
5. Better breathing
Because of the deep mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves. This breathing increases the elasticity of the lungs so you can take in more oxygen for greater lung power. Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response in the central nervous system—the opposite of the fight or flight adrenaline boost of the stress response. If you can stay calm in tense or physically demanding situations, you can keep your heart rate lower and more efficiently utilize oxygen for better running capacity. And, the better and fuller you breathe, the more energy you will have!
So, get to your local yoga studio and see for yourself how adding a little “om” can add a lot of “oomph” to your running.