Is Yoga Good for Runners?

You do a lot of running and you’re wondering, what can I do to make it better? Is there anything I can do to make it better besides run more? Because we know more run fitness is obviously going to come by running more.

You do a lot of running and you’re wondering, what can I do to make it better? Is there anything I can do to make it better besides run more? Because we know more run fitness is obviously going to come by running more. However, there are weaknesses we create by running a lot and some of those weaknesses can be overcome through yoga. So, today I’m going to talk about why yoga can be good for runners.

Though I’m not going to give you a full-fledged yoga demonstration here, because I am not a yogi, I can say that over the years, I have put this into practice a number of times. And when I am not being lazy and putting time in for it, making a priority, I know that having some kind of yoga practice has helped my running. And I’m not alone. Way back at the beginning of my other show here on this channel, which if you want to check that out, hit subscribe, stick around with me, I spoke to Dr. Richard Fineman, PhD at the time, Physics PhD at MIT. He’s a runner and also a yoga instructor. And he talked about the usefulness of using yoga to enhance his running in triathlon. If you want to listen to that conversation with him about that, about his work at NASA, and all these different kind of things, I’ll link to that at the end of this episode.

But that got me thinking again, why is it useful? What can it do? And a lot of it has to do with the nature of running. So, because we are runners, we typically do one thing, run. But more specifically, we’re running in a straight line. We’re not using all the muscles, we need to cut side to side, to move backwards, to do all these weird different movements that you might do in other sports to give your muscles kind of a more well-rounded workout. Because of that, we often end up with imbalances because we’re working in one particular direction over and over and over without using the opposing muscle groups to try to balance things out.

So, by doing yoga, it’s not just a matter of stretching. There is actually a lot of strength work that can be had from it. And then you get the benefit of using those opposing muscle groups. Not only that, as I talked about before on this channel, flexibility is strength in running. Meaning, when you’re flexible, you can put more power down without the risk of injury. There’s also the idea that you need to strengthen your tendons because they are a weak point.

They’re a link between your muscles and your skeletal system. And if they get hurt, it’s much different than a soft tissue injury, like muscles that can be worked out to help prepare them. It’s a time waiting game, and it takes much, much longer to repair and strengthen tendons than it does muscles. So, if you can do something to try to help that relationship between muscle tendon skeletal system via yoga, then that is one way you can help yourself be a better runner.

All of these things combined, working the opposing muscle groups, helping your tendons, and then being more flexible, they’re all going to help you in different ways to be a better runner. On top of that, there’s kind of some, what I would say psychological benefits of taking time to do yoga. And part of that is just breaking up the repetitive nature of running. Now, I have a various number of routes. Maybe you run the same thing every day, maybe you run a new run every time.

But even if I have various routes and I mix those things up, running can become repetitive, you’re doing the same thing. So, by breaking that up and just doing something else, in this case, yoga, that actually should help make running a little more fresh as well. Which helps you when you’re getting ready to do that harder work. You have a fresher brain, you’re ready to go.

All of those are my kind of reasons to do yoga. But they aren’t the only reasons. And I talked about that again, with Dr. Richard Fineman, in that episode, that very early episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast. I think we’re going back to episode eight or something like that. Way, way, way, long time ago, several years ago now, but still, a very great conversation with a very interesting man. So, check that out, should be popping up here on the screen soon. And I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.


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