It’s Wednesday which means two things: I uploaded a video and I’m writing a blog post to go with it. Today’s special is…post-run yoga and why you should do it.
To me, I discovered the beauty of post-run yoga a few years back through a Youtuber called Adriene. You can check out her very awesome channel here, Yoga With Adriene. I highly recommend it. I always engaged in short stretches after my runs but didn’t have a good routine or a very solid routine. All that means is that my muscles weren’t being properly taken care of.
Stretching after a workout, any workout, is extremely important. Our bodies and our muscles need time to cool down. We’ve worked them hard, now we have to take care of them. It’s really, really easy to skip out though. We’re running a little late, we’re already tired, or maybe our muscles are screaming “stop”.
Whatever the reason is, it isn’t good enough.
I’m all for listening to our bodies but in this case, even if our legs feel ready to completely fall off it just isn’t worth skipping that stretch. But, it’s hard to cover our bases. Each workout demands something else of us and each set of stretches gives us something else. So what do we need? And why is yoga better than a simple stretch?
Well, for me that second one has a simple answer. Because there’s a huge variety of yoga classes. Even ten minute ones online. I get to pick the one that feels best for me that day. And, if I can’t find one I think fits me, I can make up my own flow out of the poses I like best.
More than that, yoga offers a great way to gradually slow my heartrate down. I don’t jump from running into a static stretch. Might not be the best option for my heart. With yoga, I can hop on my mat and do a few sun salutations to gradually lower my heart rate until I’m ready to slow it down and hold some poses for a little longer.
With yoga, you also get to play. You can wiggle your hips left and right, forwards and backwards, to find what feels right. Each run and each day brings something different, and so does each yoga practice. This is a huge part of why I adore practice yoga after a run. My shins are a little tight? Hovering cat. But if it doesn’t feel great? I’ll go higher, lower, shift my weight from side to side. I might even move from hovering cat really slowly into downdog so that I can feel each inch of my shins stretch. There are so many options!
And they’re dynamic.
In runner’s lunge we can point and flex the toes. In low lunge we can rock forwards and backwards to really stretch through our hips and toes. I don’t have to plop down and hold a position. I have the ability to allow my breath to really move my body around. Not that this can’t be done during static stretches, yoga is just designed for this.
That’s why I like it at least.
But why is it important?
Well, for one, it keeps our muscles healthy. When we push our muscles to the limit or work them at all, we ought to take care of them by stretching. Think of it as a “thank you” to them for all they did for you on your run. Lengthening them is strengthening them.
It gets them (and of course you) lots of oxygen and helps circulation. This is especially important in recovery. We want our blood to circulate our whole body with ease. This is in part why I love and appreciate inversions so much. Stretching is one of those things that keeps your heart healthy and your muscles able to recover themselves to the best of their abilities. When I don’t stretch (or when I skimp) I feel it the next day. I can hardly move! But when I take the time to stretch myself out, I appreciate it the next day no doubt. My muscles are more able to function and I might even be able to go exercise even harder. How about that?
Back health! I cannot emphasize this enough. Our legs are connected to our backs. Tight legs, tight hips, even a sore ankle can lead to back pain. No one wants that. Ever. Back pain is a toughie to get rid of. Instead of dealing with it and searching for ways to help it, look for ways to prevent it. Forward folds that are mindful of the angle and strain on the back are a necessity for runners, in my opinion. Of course they can cause injuries. I’ve heard plenty of people tell me how dangerous any fold is on the spine. Same people who say deadlifts are bad. And that running is bad.
Listen, I’m exercising. It’s healthy. And I practice good form. If you practice good form I promise you’ll be just fine. You might have to adjust a little bit to practice that form but it’s worth it.
Is that not reason enough?
How about this one? It feels good. You get to come down off the high that is running and relish the feeling of a worked body. The problem with not stretching is that we often rush off to do something else and completely ignore how good we feel. Why would we want to do this? We worked hard on our run. We gave it our all (hopefully). We sweat. We made ourselves tired. Why wouldn’t we want to carve out some time to enjoy that wonderful feeling?
So, if you are a runner, and looking for some post-run yoga, I’ll go ahead and put my video linked right here. It’s a fifteen-minute post-run flow so it might not cover all the things you need but it’ll do a great job of just cooling you down and tending to the muscles you used. Go on and check it out! Let me know either here or there if you liked it!