The benefit of taking the time to unwind – One time a runner should slow down!
Let’s talk more about post-run yoga, for deep tension release and recovery…
Last week I shared a sequence with you that I do really regularly as my post-run yoga stretch routine – but I also mentioned that, later on the same evening, I do another, more restorative, yoga session.
This type of practice, that’s much, much slower and restful, is known as Yin Yoga. By spending longer in fewer poses, you’re able to relax the tissues and therefore release deeper set tension.
How does recovery yoga work?
The idea is to get comfortable, using props if necessary, so that you’re able to stay there for several minutes. You’re not even trying to stretch and the sensation is usually much subtler. This, I find is a hard aspect to grasp for many athletes, who are used to trying hard to achieve something!
But, the fact that you are staying there for three minutes plus, at a time, means that there will be effect taking place, that’s much more effective in releasing tension in the deeper tissues, rather than only the superficial muscles that a dynamic/ active stretch has. This is why this type of recovery yoga is incredibly important after a long run or a race, once or twice a week.
Here’s a 12 minute Yin Yoga video, mainly focused around the hips. The hips, particularly the piriformis muscle, can accumulate lots of tension in many people, not just runners, so this is a great practice to get into the habit of doing. Remember that every time you do a class, your body will feel different, so if you’ve done this class with me before, see how it compares to last time!
This class is designed to do cold, as we’re not actively stretching the muscles, so I recommend doing it a least a couple hours after running. Last week’s class is for immediate/ soon post-run.
Write to me here, join the conversation in our community group and leave a comment below the video. I look forward to chatting to you soon!
Why should I do post-run yoga? What happens when you stretch/ don’t stretch post-run?
I know how it is… You’ve finished a great run and you feel pumped – but you also feel worn out and hungry!
So, after a quick chat with your run buddies, you jump in the car to go get breakfast. Maybe you take two minutes before you head home to pull your heel towards your butt, as a post-run stretch token effort. You get home, eat your breakfast, and sit down to read the paper, or do some work…
After an hour or so, you get up to go to the bathroom and you feel so stiff! Everything has started to tighten and stiffen up and you feel pretty uncomfortable. You think to yourself… Maybe I should have stretched – I’ll do it later, or, I’ll do it next time. The next day you go to run again but you feel way stiffer before you run than you did the day before. You run anyway but it’s cold, so you go faster initially than perhaps you should… and before long, you feel a twinge in your calf (or hamstrings) that gets worse, and then you have to walk the rest of the way.
What you could have done after your initial run:
You have that quick chat with your buddies, as you all start to stretch. As you start to do more, you stop chatting and you focus on how you feel. You know that it’s only going to take around 10 minutes to do your post-run yoga or stretch out routine. You do it because you know that it’s going to help you to feel much better later on in the day and ready for your next run tomorrow.
If it’s a sunny day, you’ll do it straight after you run. Sometimes, you’ll drive home but as soon as you get home you’ll take your 10 minutes to do your post-run routine. Then you get your breakfast! Then you sit down to read the paper or do your work and, when you get up that hour later, you feel totally fine. More that time, you feel great, you feel mobile, nimble, you feel refreshed and you feel happy that you got your run done and guilt free because you know that you stretched out. You look forward to your run the following day, as you know that you’re going to feel great and ready for it.
So what happens when we don’t stretch:
Accumulated tension that’s built up through repeatedly contracting the muscles whilst we run, has no opportunity to release the excess we don’t need. The muscles shorten as they tighten because they have no opportunity to release and re-lengthen and remain this way if not stretched. It’s true, as runners we do need muscular tension – we want to be building strength for stability and joint protection; too much flexibility as a runner can be detrimental. However, without sufficient flexibility, our running technique is impaired.
Let’s consider the hamstrings. The hamstrings work, hopefully alongside the glutes, constantly contracting as we run. So the muscles are shortening and getting stronger. If we take the time to release just some of that tension that’s built up during the run, in a post run yoga routine, we’ll release a good amount of that excess tension. We’ll maintain some of it, but we also want to release some of it.
Also, if we don’t give our muscles the opportunity to re-lengthen, then they are at a greater risk of suffering injury. The shorter the muscle the tighter it gets, and the less mobility we have in the joints. The less spring like quality the muscle has, as it’s under more tension it’s much easier to tear or strain.
So try this 10 minute video. Here you go! It’s my go-to yoga routine for after my run. Just 10 minutes. You could do it straight after your run if you have your phone on you to follow it, or do it as soon as you get home. This is the routine I’ll use most often – I have another that I recently shared with you that’s all standing and I tend to do straight away outside. This one, I tend to do as soon as I get indoors and then as often as I can, I’ll do a more relaxing and restorative yoga practice that same evening, especially if I’ve gone the extra distance in my run. More on that next week!
Let me know how you get on in the comments below, as I always want to know how you get on. Tell me your stories and experiences. Are you making the time to do some yoga after your run, or is this a new habit that you’re hoping or trying to create? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments, in our Facebook community, or feel free to email me here.
Thank you so much for reading and for watching. I love building this community and see staying in touch with you.
Many of us are in a rush to run further and faster – but to prevent injury, there is a checklist that we should be going though, before thinking about increasing our distance, or even running at all!
Below is Part 1, of 6 steps towards injury-free running. I’ve focused on one or two key areas within each, with tests you can do and a yoga based solution that will work on improvement.
Ideally we should be able do all of these before we start a training plan, but as long as you are working on improving them all (see suggested yoga), and only running short distances, then you can build your run-fitness concurrently.
1. Mobility (hips) – test: can you squat?
Yoga to help: High Squat(use forearms/ hands on thighs), Squat Swings, Horse, Easy Squat (low but heels together, toes out)
2. Strength (core and pelvis) – test: can you hold a static lunge? Can you do a walking lunge?
Yoga to help: Low Lunge, Sun Salutes that incorporate Low Lunge, side lying legs lifts, chair lifts, bridge lifts
3. Flexibility (hamstrings and hip flexors) – test for hip flexors: can you take a low lunge with a straight pelvis and back thigh?
Yoga solution: spend 3 minutes, in this position with the tail bone lengthening, 3-4 times a week/ post-run.
Test for hamstrings: can you like flat on your back and take one leg up straight to at least 70 degrees.
Yoga solution: do this, with a strap to hold your foot, for 3 minutes each side, 3-4 times per week/ post-run.
These are just a few of the ways in which yoga can improve mobility, strength and flexibility! Remember, the best practice is a well-rounded practice, but these are definitely something to consider incorporating into your routine, as a runner, regularly 🙂
Next time I’ll cover the other 3: ABC – agility, balance and coordination.
>> I want to hear your feedback, so please post a comment below!
Some of us seem to fall over more often than other runners – years ago, I used to have the occasional tumble, maybe you do too?!
Now, obviously there are rogue factors that we can’t do anything about: someone else falling/ crashing into us, a huge root/ rock that came out of nowhere (more on that below) – but here are the 3 most likely reasons that a runner will fall over, that with the help of yoga, we can over-come.
Lack of core strength. There it is again, the ‘core’ cropping up in my posts but it really is the key to great running, including staying on your feet! Firstly, a strong torso means we can run with correct alignment and proper technique, making the second point below easy. Secondly, if we do trip on something, having great core strength often means we can recover from the fall before we hit the ground. What to do?All my classes, other that recovery/ Yin, involve core strengthening. But here’s a recent, core targeting video:
Not picking up the feet. We need to be actively lifting our feet up and back (heels towards butt), as soon as they touch the ground. This ensures that feet are landing in the right place for proper alignment and technique, keeps our cadence around 180 and means we are never ‘shuffling’ and risking tripping over that rogue rock/ branch. We are purposefully lifting our feet and not shuffling or striding forwards, this will prevent the majority of falls from occurring. What to do? Get your technique checked out (perhaps on one of our courses/ retreats), work on core strength and overall posture with yoga and start thinking about lifting the heel behind, not lifting the knees or feet forward.
Not concentrating on what you’re doing! I love that running can be social – however, you cannot deny that chatting away means a lack of awareness on the task at hand: running efficiently, so that we can run for longer, faster, injury-free!! For the runner with the perfect technique that comes naturally with ease, this is less of an issue but for so many runners, running with proper technique requires focus. Even when correct technique becomes natural, staying mindfully aware of our body and surroundings is going to greatly reduce falls and other injuries. What to do? The gaze should be forward, so that we can see any obstacles ahead, occasionally dropping the gaze down but generally keeping the head upright. The right combination of yoga will help with strength and posture, but also with the ability to become really aware of our own body and surroundings, and to actually help us enjoy the process of the running itself, not just the social aspect 😉
Let us know your experiences in the comments just below!
The hip flexors are such an important area to work on and keep flexible and healthy – especially if you’re a keen runner. The hip flexors are the area of most frequent complaint in runners, so it’s worth taking the time to prevent injury here, before it arises!