All runners should work on their flexibility and mobility. Being more flexible can help to prevent injuries and improve your performance.
Yoga is an excellent way to improve your flexibility, and is a worthwhile form of exercise for runners to add to their routines.
You may be wondering, should I do yoga before or after running? It is a good question, and one that’s important to answer, as many runners may be tempted to do yoga as a warm-up before going for their run.
Continue reading to learn how best to incorporate yoga into your running training schedule and when you should be doing it for best results.
Will Yoga Be Helpful For Runners?
There are a number of reasons why runners should include yoga in their workout schedules.
Yoga helps to keep the body flexible, as many of the poses are held for a long period of time. This helps to create elasticity of the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue.
This will help your body to move more efficiently and with a greater range of motion – things that can improve your running.
Running places a lot of stress on the body, and it can lead to the shortening and tightening of muscles. Yoga can help reduce the physical stress of running and help to elongate, relax and strengthen the muscles that will keep you running injury and pain-free.
The breathwork in yoga will also make you more aware of how you breathe when you run. By applying the breathwork to your run, you’ll not only increase your oxygen intake, but it can help reduce any anxiety around your performance when you’re running competitively.
You’ll find that your body’s alignment is better when doing yoga and that your focus improves. This not only allows you to focus on your run, but you’ll also be more aware of the messages that your body is sending you.
Most yoga movements target the core, hamstrings, quads, calves, and hip flexors. Yoga will also increase your strength, as the different poses and movements target the supporting muscles and the underused muscles.
Consistent yoga practice will strengthen these muscles significantly, leading to improved performance on your runs.
Should I Do Yoga Before Or After A Run?
While it may seem like a good idea to do yoga before you head off for a run, it would be best to do yoga afterwards.
If, however, you want to do yoga before a run to warm up, then it would be best to do dynamic yoga moves rather than moves that require you to hold a pose for longer.
If you had to do a session of yoga where you hold the pose for some time, this causes the muscles to stretch and relax. When you run, your muscles act like springs; they’re tight and help to propel you forward. If the muscles are stretched and relaxed, this will decrease your running economy, as well as lead to injuries.
Doing yoga after your run will help with recovery, as it releases the tension in the muscles, relieves pain, and helps you regain your range of motion.
What If I Enjoy Running After Yoga?
You can do yoga before you go for a run as long as the moves are dynamic. This will activate the inactive muscles and can help you make your body more efficient and ready for fluid movement.
While the following yoga moves may look like stretching, they will target the muscles that runners are about to use.
You can try the following yoga moves before a run:
- Deep Squat
- Warrior 2
- High Lunge
- Standing Side Stretch into Standing Back Bend
- Standing March Hold
Not only will these moves help warm up the muscles, but this will only take roughly 5 minutes to do before your run.
Moves like Downward-Facing Dog, Reclining Pigeon, Toes Pose and Reclining Cow Face are great for muscle recovery. These types of poses stretch and relax the muscles.
Why Is It Better To Run Before Yoga?
There’s a number of reasons why it’s better to go for your run before you do yoga. The deep breathing and the poses in yoga activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body rest. It will decrease your heart and respiration rate, which allows the body and mind to relax.
You’re going to take your body from a relaxed state to a stressed state when you go for a run after doing yoga. This will be a bit of a shock to the body, and chemical responses could release more of the stress hormones, which could affect your running performance.
Running before doing yoga will allow the muscles to warm up fully. This will let you move your body into deeper positions while doing yoga. It will also reduce the risk of injury when you move from a bending position into a twisting or lunging pose.
Depending on what your goal is—strength, endurance or restorative—there are different types of yoga that can help you achieve your goals.
If you’re looking to increase your strength, then Ashtanga yoga would work well; it has a faster-paced sequence. Every pose will focus on strength and each move will help to strengthen your core—think of the Boat Pose.
If you’re looking to increase your endurance levels, then hot yoga would certainly help with that. The temperature of the class varies between 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, where you’ll do a variety of poses like the Runner Lunge, Pigeon Pose or Lizard Pose.
Restorative yoga calms the body and the mind. The sequence of the poses is slower and is a good way to stretch and relax the muscles.
Yoga will help stretch and relax those tight hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, back and core muscles, especially after a long run or intense training session. The stretching and relaxation will help your muscles to recover more quickly, but you’ll find that your range of motion also increases. This can help you run better the next day and even improve your PR.
A Longer Yoga Session: Before or After?
If you want a longer yoga session, it’s best to do it after your run. This will allow you to remain in a relaxed state for longer; the muscles can recover and you’ll find that you’ll get a good night’s sleep.
Before your run, do some light stretching or some dynamic yoga moves and then go for your run. When you get back, then do your yoga session.
Tips for Yoga
1. Resist the Urge to Compete
Yoga takes practice and patience to master the various poses. Running, on the other hand, challenges you and you can compete against other runners. The person on the mat next to you in the yoga class may make the yoga pose look easy, but they have also probably been doing yoga for longer.
When you get onto your yoga mat, don’t compete with the other people in the class; remember, it’s not a race!
Rather, focus on getting your body into the optimal position where you feel the effectiveness of the pose. Make sure that you’re able to breathe comfortably throughout the range of motion.
2. Adjust Your Yoga Practice to Your Running Season
Have a look at your running schedule and adjust the types of yoga you’ll be practicing to your running training. If you’re going to be doing high-intensity training sessions for a few weeks before a marathon, then look at adding some restorative yoga sessions into your routine.
In the off-season where you may be doing low-intensity runs, then look at adding a more challenging type of yoga-like Ashtanga yoga—also known as the military of yoga—or Power yoga—also known as Vinyasa yoga. Power yoga has some creative moves and it’s fast-paced, but guaranteed to get your heart rate up.
This will not only help to increase strength and endurance, but it will reduce the risk of injury and you’ll find that you can run pain-free.
3. Choose Dynamic Yoga Movements Over Long Holds
Running economy is important and every runner is trying to improve their running economy. A small study that was conducted showed that runners who were less flexible had better running economies.
While yoga is great for stretching out stiff muscles and increasing range of motion—longer stride—for runners, dynamic yoga movements would be better. This will also prevent the overstretching of muscles and reduce the risk of injury.