Yoga has been growing in popularity among people of all interests and athletes of a diverse list of disciplines. The unique combination of strength, stability and flexibility enhancement is appealing to most that want to keep their bodies in optimum shape. The truth is that your body needs maintenance, and just pure physical exertion is not enough. You need to make sure you are strengthening all the correct muscle groups to ensure correct movement and prevent injury. First move well, and then move often, they say. Ultra-running is exceptionally susceptible to injuries due to incredibly long physical exertion. Weak muscles and glitches in technique might result in long-lasting injuries and increased wear on your joints.
Yoga for Muscle Relaxation
Yoga can be seen as an active massage. A typical yoga session loosens up majority of your body’s muscle groups, relaxing tense muscles and creating space in joints. This is very useful for your body’s post-training recovery and ensuring good range of motion in your body. Particularly useful poses for ultra-runners and runners in general are hip opening and hamstring stretching poses.
Yoga for Balance
Yoga is all about the balance; balance between your muscles, between your physical and mental self. A lot of emphasis in each yoga session is placed to correct “body alignment”. This is useful in a couple of ways to a runner. First, it makes sure that both sides of your body are being strengthen evenly, which helps to avoid injuries. Secondly, yoga helps strengthen a range of fine muscles and structures that are integral to keeping up your endurance activities.
Incorporate some yoga poses and exercises into your regular training regime.
Moreover, yoga is excellent for strengthening your back and core body, which is essential for runners; despite it frequently being overlooked. Strong core enables better hip engagement and helps your running technique. Moreover, it may help prevent lower back pain, when running long distances. In addition, if you’re running very long distances and carry a relatively heavy pack, it does not hurt to strengthen your upper body too.
Finally, yoga does wonders in helping train your mind and control stress levels. Being able to relax and breathe through difficulty is essential for ultra-runners, and yoga does exactly that. Within the core of yoga’s philosophy is taking each moment one breath at a time, which comes in handy, when battling tens of kilometers and many hours of running. Many athletes report yoga helping with their daily stress levels and teaching them to unwind and relax after physical challenges.
Yoga for Injury Recovery and Prevention
If you were unlucky enough to suffer an injury, whether from overtraining, strain or some impact, you will need to put some effort to put you back on track. Rest is a big part of initial healing stages, but active recovery is essential to put you back to training and reach a full recovery. Best choice for active recovery activities are those with low impact and safe engagement of target muscle groups. Yoga is precisely that type of activity – safe and beneficial for most, yoga is based on active effort, yet no pain principle. In your practice, you should feel you are engaging the required muscle groups avoid overexertion and any pain.
A frequent attribute of injuries is a resulting muscular imbalance; impacted joint or muscle has to be at rest with other muscle groups taking over the load. These results in one side/part of your body being stronger that affects how we move. Yoga is very useful for balancing your body and preventing reoccurring injuries.
Yoga is not the only way of gaining these specific benefits to aid your ultra-running. Knowledgeable gym and cross training, swimming and even rock-climbing, can aid your running. However, yoga offers these benefits in a non-harmful, holistic way, accessible to everyone. Finally, yoga helps you rest and unwind, even if for a brief period of time during our busy schedules, which surely is an appealing advantage.
About The Author
Dan T is the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. He's also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. He enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. He currently live in Brazil where he can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around his city!
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