Running Pain and Yoga

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Distance running can cause a tremendous amount of stress on the body. Yoga is now recognized as a way for runners to stretch tight muscles and help lessen running pain. Runners tend to gravitate towards power yoga and fast paced vinyasa flow. It’s wonderful to see runners now practicing yoga but this approach of stretching muscles and getting an extra workout is only the tip of the iceberg. Yoga can offer so much more than just stretching. It can help you access a deep place of calm relaxation. A place where healing and recovery takes place.

The new paradigm of ChiRunning is helping thousands of runners move away from power running and experience more relaxation and less pain and injury. Yoga is a similar path to relaxation and pain reduction. Power running can cause adrenal burnout, fatigue, and injury. What is needed in this situation is not another workout, it is deep relaxation, which allows the body to recover and restore itself to natural harmony.

Those who practice ChiRunning attempt to minimize the amount of stress they place on the body. Those who practice power running purposely place stress on the body in order to get stronger. The idea is that if you stress the body, and then recover, the body will rebuild itself stronger. Most runners train far beyond their ability to recover and do not get the full benefits distance running can offer.

The recovery process stems from deep relaxation. It goes far beyond taking an easy day, going for a recovery run, and eating protein. Learning to recover properly will aid your distance running practice tremendously. Below is a list of my five best yoga poses for runners. Mastering these poses will allow you to access the deep relaxation that is needed for recovery. I suggest finding a good teacher to work with you on these postures as well as researching the postures on your own.

1. Savasana – This is where the recovery really takes place.  The corpse pose is where your ego dies down and the Chi is allowed to nurture and heal.

2. Childs pose (garbasana) – Deeply relaxing for the body and mind and a great stretch for the hips, lower back and glutes.

3. Meditation posture – Meditation is a way to develop your focus, which is an integral part of your ChiRunning practice. For most runners I suggest starting in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor.  For those of you who have done Katherine and Danny’s morning exercise you know how powerful this can be.

4. Legs up the wall pose – See page 214 in the ChiRunning book for a description of this wonderful recovery pose.

5. Mountain pose (tadasana) – Also known as your ChiRunning posture.

ChiRunning will lessen the need for recovery, while Yoga will help maximize any recovery that is needed. This combination is a powerful way to become an efficient, pain free, joyful runner. Any distance running program could benefit greatly from a supplemental Yoga practice.


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