Yoga Poses for Runners: Warm-up Sequence
Most people neglect to properly warm-up the muscles before a run or workout. It's been my experience as an athlete and teacher, that a lot of people use static stretches to warm up before workout out. The problem is static stretches (holding stretches for longer periods of time) are not the proper way to warm up before exercise.
Muscles need to be warm in order to perform the best. Warming the muscles involves moving not holding. Static stretches work on flexibility rather than warming up the muscles. Therefore, warming up the body involves moving so the heart rate increases and more blood is pumped through the body. Taking time to increase the blood flow and then doing some dynamic stretches (stretches while moving) will insure the body is prepared for exercise or even a gym workout.
After a workout, static stretches are more appropriate however caution needs to be taken so over stretching and injury occur. Creating movement (dynamic stretches and light cardio warm up) in the body will help prepare the heart (the most important muscle) and all the other muscles for exercise.
Dynamic stretching on the other hand is the way to go when it comes to warming up prior to exercise. Dynamic stretches are movement based and can take many forms. When I was running track and cross country, I would lightly jog for a few minutes and then do a series of stretches that involved rotating joints, lengthening and shortening muscles and even strength training moves. I'm still a runner but now, I use a few rounds of surya namaskar (sun salutations) and the following yoga flow to warm my body up before running or cross training.
So if you are planning on doing any type of exercise, properly warming up the muscles is the best bet to stay injury free! Want a video to warm-up with instead, click here.
Warm-up Yoga Poses
Standing Crescent: Standing with the feet inner hip distance or big toes touching, inhale the arms up to the sky. Bring the palms together, continuing to reach up while grounding down into the soles of the feet. On an exhale, crescent the torso and arms to the right making a banana shape with the body. Inhale to the center and exhale to the left. Hold a breath on each side and move to the center and other side.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) to Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana): Come to standing with feet inner hip distance and parallel. Inhale the arms up, reaching the finger tips up, exhale putting a slight bend in the knees and fold forward (keeping the belly button working toward the spine to protect the low back). Bring hands to the floor under the shoulders (if hands to reach, bend the knees or just dangle the arms down toward the floor). Hold for a breath, then inhale the heart forward, making the back flat. Hands come to the floor under the shoulders or to the shins. Move with the breath from these two poses a few times.
Downward Facing Dog Rolls: Start in downward facing dog, feet hip distance, hands shoulder distance and palms working into the mat. Engaging the core, exhale and roll the torso forward coming into plank pose. Pause and inhale rolling the hips up and back to downward facing dog. Move with the breath rolling forward and back a few times.
Three Legged Downward Facing Dog to Plank: From downward facing dog, inhale the right leg up behind, keeping the leg hip height. Exhale right knee to the nose. Repeat a few times, moving with the breath. Repeat on the second side.
Low Lunge to Half Splits: Step the right leg in between the hands, coming into a runners lunge stance. Exhale the left knee and top of the left foot come down to the mat. The left knee should be behind the hip rather than under the left hip. Pause for a breath, exhale walking the hands back toward the left knee while straightening through the right leg. Flex the right foot and try to keep the spin straight, without rounding through the upper back. Move back and forth between these two poses a few times. Repeat on the second side.
Retreating Warrior: Step the feet wide, turning the toes out slightly. On an exhale, bend the right knee, shifting the body to the right in a squat, while left toes point up toward the sky. Inhale back up, exhale to the left side. Move slowly, placing the hands at heart center or on the ground while moving from side to side.
*Bonus Movement: Standing Stork to Warrior III: From standing, shift weight onto the right foot, inhale the left knee up and out in front of the body. Reach arms out in front or up above the head (standing stork). Grounding down through the standing leg, exhale bringing the torso forward as the left leg extends back behind (warrior III). Inhale back to standing stork, exhale to warrior III. Repeat a few times and switch to the other side.
Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction. If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.