When you hear the word “yoga,” the picture on your mind is probably of a person sitting on a mat breathing deeply and meditating. But did you know that yoga, an activity associated with relaxation, can tremendously boost your performance as a runner both psychologically and physically? Well, here are three benefits of yoga for runners you probably didn’t know.
1. Improved Strength
Running engages you in repetitive motions that tend to overuse some muscles while underusing others, causing an imbalance in their strength. Yoga can help you achieve strength evenly throughout your body as different poses work on different parts of the body to make a wholesome body work-out.
The physical strength that you develop helps you run longer and avoid injury. You also build your mental strength as yoga boosts your awareness and concentration. This enables you to deal with distractions that may come up during the run, as well as maintain focus and discern various body sensations as you run.
2. Better Breathing
As a runner, you need to sync your breathing with your pace. Yoga helps you become more conscious of your breath through pranayama, which is the art of breathing. You get to fully utilize correct breathing techniques to help you in releasing tension and anxiety before a run as it calms the nervous system.
Oxygen is necessary for fuelling your body and giving you the energy you need as a runner. Pranayama teaches you how to breathe the right way, helping you take in as much oxygen as you need depending on your pace. According to a journal of Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, yoga improves the functions of lungs, leading to improved efficiency in athletes
3. Reduced Risk of Injury
Most times, injuries happen because of an imbalance in musculoskeletal tissues and seldom due to falls. Yoga loosens up connective ligaments, connective tissues, muscles, and joints to achieve more flexibility. This gives you a more comprehensive range of motion and the ability to get into different positions without difficulties. As such, you can hit longer strides and increase your speed.
The good thing about yoga for runners is that you can customize your practice to suit your running style, whether you are a casual jogger, a sprinter, or a long-distance runner. If you have never considered joining a yoga class, now is the time to hit the mat and reap the benefits both on a personal level and as a runner.