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.
All my best wishes, Helen.
Side body Strength
Let’s not forget our side body when we think about core strength. There are so many muscles that wrap around us from the sides, supporting our spine, hips and shoulders, yet the side body can often be forgotten.
Side plank is one of my favourite poses for a number of reasons: it strengthens the transverse abdominus, the obliques, the quadratus lumborum and serratus anterior, as well as the other rotator cuff muscles and the spinal extensors.
→ If we’re not actively strengthening all of the ‘core’ muscles, including the sides and the glutes, then something will be overcompensating, usually the low back.
It’s a simple pose – but not an easy one! It’s like trying to find Tadasana, your perfect standing posture, and then turning it on it’s side! It can be very easy to allow the spine to flex or extend, to let the hips sink or to lift them too high, and to let the supporting shoulder drop against gravity. But, one of the best things about the pose is the range of options it offers.
As with any pose that requires really good strength, working towards it in steps, in order to build efficient strength to hold the full posture is always better than struggling and persevering with the full thing!
You’ve likely practised a range of side plank variations in my classes, but there are two great progressions towards the full thing:
- Keep the lower knee on the floor. Start in Plank but drop the knees where they land. Take the right foot back, turn it parallel to the back edge of the mat. Turn the left foot and shin slightly off the mat at an angle. Push the left hand down and hug the shoulder in. Lift the hips but lengthen the tail bone to stay in line.
- Place the top foot on the floor. Start in Plank. Turn to the right, placing right foot on the floor in front of the hips. Drop the left heel so you are on the outer edge of the left foot. Push the left hand down and hug the shoulder in. Lift the hips and keep lengthening the tail bone, as before.
- The full pose. From Plank, turn to the side, stack the feet. Lift the hips, but not too high. Lengthen the spine, reaching from the crown of your head and the heels. Keep resisting gravity by pushing the balancing hand down and hugging the shoulder in, away from the ear.
This is a fun pose to incorporate into a flowing Vinyasa practice – I think so anyway! and is a great indicator of building more strength.
We’re going to be exploring many more variations of Vasisthasana in my next workshop, on Sunday 24th March in St Agnes, as well as other fun and focussed ways of strengthening and releasing the side body, using Myofascial Release, Yin Postures and Vinyasa Flow. Book your place here.
What is your experience with this pose? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for being here,
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!
If you’re interested in ‘running better with yoga’, take a look at our One Day Course, and the Weekend Retreat here.
This year, over half a million people are expected to pledge to be vegan for January, in Veganuary 2019. With increasing reports that only by drastically cutting animal farming, will we have any chance of saving the planet, in addition to the greater awareness of benefits to our wellbeing, is making veganism the choice for many – including top athletes. Great news in my opinion!
I personally choose a vegan, plant-based diet, free from gluten and refined sugar, as much as possible. Because this is what gives me the most energy. And feeling the best that I can each day is my top priority, so that I can create and teach optimally to serve others. Green plants, in particular, contain an abundance of energy that I believe cannot be found in meat. Plus, consuming low Glycemic Index foods provides constant, sustained energy without the peaks and troughs of high carb and sugar foods, as they slowly enter the bloodstream and provide more sustained energy. This makes low GI foods ideal before endurance exercise, such as running 😉
At home, we have great fun creating new and modifying old recipes to fit our diet of choice! This lasagna recipe is very loosely based on one I found in the Bosh cook book but it ended up being so different, and so delicious, that I thought I would share my recipe with you! It’s perfect if you’re vegan, or looking to cut down meat, whilst being gluten-free and low in carbs.
Makes enough for 6 (or 2 people over 3 days!)
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 courgette
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- Some sprigs of rosemary
- 1 bag baby spinach
- 6-8 chestnut mushrooms
- 2 sticks celery
- salt and pepper
- balsamic vinegar
- chilli powder optional
- 200g cashews (soak 3 hours)
- 400 ml plant based milk (I used almond)
- glug olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 50g gram flour/ other flour
- tbsp nutritional yeast
- squeeze lemon
- salt and pepper
- 100 ml water
- Cut the squash in half length ways and roast in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, at 180 for 25 minutes.
- Pan fry the red onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped mushrooms and diced courgette. Add optional chilli flakes or powder.
- When the squash is mostly cooked, cut into small cubes and spoon out of it’s skin. Add to pan.
- Add chopped celery, tins of tomatoes, seasoning and a few springs of rosemary.
- Let it simmer whilst you make the sauce.
- In a Vitamix or other good blender, blend the drained cashews, gram flour, oil, garlic, almond milk, water, salt, pepper, lemon juice and nutritional yeast until smooth, fairly thick sauce that can be poured.
- Thinly slice your aubergine.
- In a baking dish, spoon enough of the veg mix to cover the base. Place the aubergine slices over and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Repeat until you run out. Finally cover the last layer of aubergine with the white sauce. (You could even put layers of this throughout)
- Cover with tin foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle nutritional yeast over and put back in for another 10-15 minutes.
Note: whilst I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with my quantities and timings, I always make adjustments as I go, and suggest you may need to do the same!
21 – 28th September 2019
From £1450 – save 10% with my booking code!
BOOKING HERE, via BlueRise Retreats
I am so excited to have been invited to teach and lead this retreat, so I’d love you to join me there!
This retreat will help you to move forward with your running and yoga practice, whether you are an experienced athlete or just starting out. There will be a Run Better with Yoga workshop with tips and techniques from myself, trail running with experienced guides, daily yoga classes designed especially for runners, healthy nutrition based meals and ultimate relaxation in a luxury Alpine chalet with spa and on-site massages included.
This retreat includes:
- A full body welcome massage
- 7 nights accommodation in a beautiful chalet
- Healthy and delicious meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner (apart from one free evening to enjoy a meal at one of the fabulous local restaurants)
- A Run Better with Yoga workshop
- Guided running on Chamonix’s stunning trails
- A full week of excellent yoga classes
- A whole day at a fantastic spa just over the border in Italy
- Transfers to and from Geneva airport
How amazing does all that sound?! PLUS, you can save 10% on your place using the code HELENYOGARUNNING2019.