The word STIFFNESS is not new to the running world. Most of the runners at some point have experienced injuries like Knee pain, Shin splints, Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, Flat feet, Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), Hip pain or strain, Sciatica, Hamstring strain or pull, Groin strain or pull, Lower-back pain, Upper-back or shoulder tightness or pain etc. Undeniably, stiffness is one of the main culprits which cause these injuries.
Experienced runners who have overcome these problems or did not allow the problems to hold them back and emerged as better runners have done so because they know the right form, the right technique, the correct deep breathing pattern, focusing on strength building, muscular balance, warm up before a run, static stretches after a run, working with restorative postures after a long run, hydrating adequately, resting well, studying, doing research, following and applying the required rules of running without any lapse. Running is not merely an activity for them but a way of life which is performed in totality with the right elements in place.
Regular running is bound to improve cardiovascular health, bone health, self-esteem, weight-loss etc. It takes us around the world, helps build up a strong social network and much more. But running alone and not applying the other required elements, which are a must, may lead to some of the downside.
YOGA has the potential to bridge the gap
It creates the right Balance & Symmetry required
Yoga is a multi-dimensional science touching upon each and every aspects of our lives, be it Social, Personal, Physical, Physiological, Mental, Psychological, Intellectual or Spiritual. Yogic practice helps develop wholesome personality and help live life fully. From a runner’s perspective, let us focus only on the two limbs of Yoga i.e. Asana & Pranayama. Practicing just these two limbs of yoga itself is bound to show sea of change.
Asana – There are lakhs of asana which can be performed standing, sitting, lying down on the abdomen, lying down on the back or in inversions. Not only that, there are many variations to the asans as well. It means you can twist, turn, turn upside down, and bend (forward, backward, and sideways) in so many ways. There is no way that even a single part of your body, muscle, gland; joint is left unmassaged due to this gamut of movements. Balancing and symmetry is natural in the practice of Yoga asanas.
Asanas can be symmetrical as well as asymmetrical. Symmetrical postures work on the whole body in a symmetrical and balanced way. With asymmetrical postures, we work on one side of the body and then the other side. The moment you start with asymmetrical postures, the first thing you become aware of, is the imbalances in your body, which is quite expected because of the repetitive movement of running. Using this awareness, you can use the asymmetrical postures to create the right symmetry and balance in your body.
Many Asymmetrical postures are a great combination of stretch and strength. You get double benefits with just one posture, not to mention the other numerable benefits, which comes as an added bonus. As stiffness reduces and flexibility comes to the optimal level, a runner needs less energy to move the joints and can use the energy for making his run long, comfortable and enjoyable. Check the symmetry of your body with this asymmetrical posture.
With asymmetrical posture, it becomes easy to pinpoint the muscular imbalance and then work specifically on that.
Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.