Being physically flexible can benefit many, especially athletes professional, amateur and aspiring. I can’t begin to express the importance of maintaining it as we get older especially 35 and over. No one is saying you have to be able to do a full split or bend over backwards to touch your heels although that would be super cool for anyone to be able to do.
As a runner flexibility can help you mitigate many injuries. One of my main focuses this year is flexibility for myself and incorporating more of that into my client routines. Interesting enough my first experience doing yoga formerly was only 3 years ago and it was Bikram (hot yoga). I really wish I had stuck with it then as I noticed just going once a week for a month I started to regain a great range of motion in my muscles and joints. Previous to trying yoga I relied on the same static stretches I had been doing since college. Needless to say, they were good. I was only doing them when I would run and this time I needed more, something peaceful.
I found this guide on Tumblr about a year ago. It had been on my list of things to incorporate into my weekly workout routine. Currently I have it slated for two days a week. One day is optional based on how I feel. The other day I plan to use this yoga routine as my “active rest day”.
Since the start of the new year I have managed to dedicate a couple of sessions to this routine and I have enjoyed it enough to stick with it and will keep it through my Winter Season Training Plan. You should consider something similar yourself too, here is a short summary of what Angie the Sassy Yogi has laid out for us…
(You can find the original post of poses here at: “Yoga For Runners”, www.sassy-yogi.com, February 21, 2016 – “Sassy Yogi / Angie )
Videos are courtesy of YouTube. The original post has some great photographs, I personally video demonstrations to work better for me.
1. Passive Standing Forward Bend
2. Wide-Legged Forward Bend
3. Low Lunge
You can either do a passive version with the tops of your feet touching the floor, or a more active version where you balance on your toes only. Keep your gaze facing forward, balancing only on the tip of your fingers. Stay here for as long as you desire.
4. Lizard Pose
For lizard pose, use a yoga block if it gets a little too intense for you. You do not have to get down on to your forearms. You can be on your palms if that feels good for you.
5. Pigeon Pose
This is a passive hip opening pose, so feel free to stay here for as long as it feels good. You can also go into resting pigeon pose, with your torso draped over your front leg, resting on your forehead. Keep breathing & feel the force of gravity opening your hips.
6. Mermaid Pose
If your hips feel open and if you feel good in resting pigeon, come into a mermaid pose to stretch your sides, deepen the opening of your hips and challenge your balance. This also opens up the side of your torso. Feel free to stay here as long as you feel comfortable.
Modification: If your hips feel really tight and pigeon pose (+ the other variations) is very uncomfortable, place a rolled towel or a yoga block under your groin for additional support.
7, 8, and 9. Downward Dog & Three Legged Dog Variations
Downward dog is a great pose to stretch out your calves. As you come into your downward dog, try to melt your chest towards the ground, and make sure your arm pits are pointing towards the ground and not flayed outwards. Reach your back heel towards the ground, and you’ll feel a nice stretch on your calves.
To deepen your stretch, come into the three legged dog. Feel free to open your hips in your three legged dog. This not only stretches your calves but also opens up your hips.
10. Seated Forward Fold
End off with a seated forward fold. Try not to round your back too much by shifting your gaze to your shins or toes rather than your knees. As you inhale, straighten your back. As you exhale, melt your torso towards your legs.
Feel free to come into a child’s pose or savasana to end off your stretches if that feels good for you.