Heart-rate monitors, pedometers, barefoot sneakers — there are countless products on the market to help runners like you stay on track while pounding the pavement. But one of the best tools to improve your form and help you run as efficiently as possible may also be one of the least expected — a yoga mat. Yoga is a great way for runners to become more aware of inefficiencies, such as misalignments and tension spots in your stride. By practicing using what you need and relaxing what you don’t on the mat, you can move with greater ease, run harder, and last longer out on the road. More importantly, that awareness is a powerful tool for injury prevention. So lace up your sneakers, roll out your yoga mat, and go!
Try it: Runner's lunge
This clever yoga pose helps you practice your stride in a more controlled setting — it trains the knees to stabilize, strengthens and lengthens your stride, and helps you perfect your form. Hold for 5 – 10 deep breaths before switching sides, or longer for added challenge.
- Make sure your stride is long—just slightly out of your comfort zone so that you can gain some flexibility and cover more ground
- Keep the front knee bent at 90 degrees, tracking directly over the ankle
- Make the back leg straight and strong, without locking the knee (if that feels too hard you can drop the back knee to the ground)
- Soften common tension spots like your shoulders, neck, and jaw
- Breathe deeply to help your body relax — even as it works hard to stabilize
- Continue you to scan your body and practice being as efficient as possible (engaging the muscles you need to support the pose and relaxing everything else)
Interested in further fine-tuning? Check out our post on optimizing your breath in your stride!