Side note: I used to be a "runner". I have ran many half marathons, completed several triathlons and truly enjoyed the thrill of the race. Unfortunately, two years ago my body decided the repetitive pounding on pavement was not going to work for my knees and hips. My last half marathon lead me to a stress fracture in my foot as well as tendentious in my toes.
These injuries are one reason why I began to practice yoga. I heard from many of my fellow runners and trainers that yoga was great to increase flexibility and decrease pain. After I few classes, I understood but was not completely convinced. I was not after a couple months of going to classes and beginning to understand the true purpose of yoga, that I knew yoga was a practice I wanted in my life.
My goal is to get back to running and completing triathlons by next year. In order to do these things, I know the practice of yoga will be my biggest support. There are hours of training one needs to put into races. Along with those hours of training, my largest task will be to come back to my mat, clear my mind, and practice my union with the universe. Will it be easy? Probably not. But as we all know, with pain comes pleasure and with pleasure comes pain. My pain will be in running, my pleasure will be in my practice.
After my run today, I took 10 minutes to practice a few poses that lengthen my hamstrings and iliopsoas ( two major muscles used while running, walking and hiking that begin to shorten after major use).
This stretch is very popular, and I am sure you have all seen this stretch at some point in life. One thing to remember to practicing this stretch, keep both of our knees aligned and focus on posteriorly tilting your pelvis ( pull navel in toward your spine). You will find a deeper stretch by remembering to do those two things.
Hasta Padasana: Forward fold
A pose that so many of us are familiar with from our yoga classes, and it also is great for real sing hamstrings and lower back. When practicing forward fold, make sure to lengthen your spine before folding completely. It is helpful to think of brining your rib cage toward your thighs and look through your shins. Do not force this pose, and please allow your knees to have a slight bend.
I used this fence to help give more length to my hamstrings. Note, keep spine tall and fold from your hip before relaxing into the pose. This may mean you won't go down as far but you will receive a deeper and more beneficial stretch for your hamstrings.
Three easy stretches or poses to practice after any run. Remember to take 3 full yogic breaths during each pose and allow your body to react naturally versus forcing any deep stretches on it. Your body is very smart at telling you when to stop ( it is called pain), so please - LISTEN TO IT! And lastly, remember to thank your body for everything it does for you on a daily basis. Your body works 24/7, make sure to celebrate it! Give yourself a pad on the back, go on, do it!