OK, so you’ve finished WIN. Congrats! I bet all you want to do is collapse on the grass or pavement with a huge sigh of relief. But WAIT!! You’re body will be a lot happier with you now and in the days ahead if you take the time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H. If you read my last post on the benefits of a pre-race yoga warm-up, then you know I have some yoga poses up my sleeve for when the race is done.
Here are 5 quick and easy poses you can do as soon as you have crossed that finish line; designed specifically for immediately following the race, all these poses can be done from a standing position. So grab a wall or a park bench and get a head start on your recovery.
1. Simple Chest Stretch: from mountain pose, clasp hands behind you with elbows slightly bent. Expand the collar bone while lifting the arms upwards.
WHY? Towards the last several miles of the race, your body starts to accommodate the fatigue by tensing the shoulders up toward the ears, allowing the torso to lean forward more and the upper back to round. This stretch reverses that effect by gently opening the chest back up and bringing the shoulder blades together.
2. Half Downward Dog (at wall): from mountain pose and with feet hip distance, facing a wall. Place palms at wall at hip height. Walk away from wall until torso is parallel with floor, arms straight and head in line with upper arms. Draw the sitting bones back feeling the spine becoming long.
WHY? All of that pounding the pavement causes the spine to compress which may account for the low back pain you’re experiencing, among other things. This pose decompresses the spine without the same strength and weight baring energy that is needed in a full downward dog pose.
3. Straight Leg Lunge (at wall): facing the wall, step the right foot back about a shin length and rotate the back foot out to a 45 degree angle. Ensure the heel of the back foot is grounded. Move the left leg forward slightly so it is in front of the hips. Hinge forward from the hips so torso is parallel to floor and place hands at wall. Press hands into the wall as you shift the left hip back and the right hip forward. Alternate sides.
WHY? The repetitiveness of the running stride compounds the problem of tight hamstrings. You need to counteract that with some mindful and cautious stretching of the hamstrings. The Straight Leg Lunge stretches the hamstrings and the IT band. Exercise caution though and be sure not to hyperextend the knee!
4. Standing Forward Bend: from mountain, bring feet to hip distance, place hands on hip and lengthen the spine. Bring upper torso as far down as possible without rounding spine.
WHY? This one is perfect as it not only further stretches the hamstrings but can also alleviate tension in the low back. Another caution though, do not do if experiencing back pain/issues such as herniated discs!
5. Knee to Ankle Balance: from mountain pose, bend right leg and place outer right ankle above left knee and flex right foot. Relax muscles of right thigh and hip. Bend left leg, place hands on waist, shin, wall or park bench. Alternate sides.
WHY? Your hips have been moving in one plane of direction for a couple of hours. This knee to ankle balance is a standing variation of Pigeon pose (a favorite stretch of the avid runner) and gently opens the hip.
If you are looking to include yoga into your cross-training plans, our Active Living Yoga starts back up again on Monday, May 27th. Check the Services page for further details and Contact us to register.