- If you’re like me, you’re probably a slacker when it comes to stretching
- Failure to stretch will make your muscle range shorter. Shorter muscles will mess up your gait. A bad gait = injuries.
- Consistently doing simple yoga each day will keep you much more limber over time
- It’s not a big commitment – there are plenty of ways to get a little yoga each morning
Way back when I was on the Heidelberg High School cross-country team, we used to stretch as a group before every run. It was hard to do, especially for a bunch of impatient kids who just wanted to get out there and run. But Coach Predmore understood the benefits of keeping his team good and limber. So we did it.
These days I’m lucky to do one minute of very minimal active stretching before I head out on a run. Just like back then, all I really want to do is get doing. Unfortunately, a few days of “no stretch” running usually means that I end up about as flexible as a saltine cracker. Sometimes I have trouble even putting my socks on, let alone feeling loose enough to run well.
In my post on the benefits of massage, I talked about how putting in the long miles of ultra training will begin to shorten your muscle range. Short muscles can cause slight irregularities with your gait. And slight changes in your gait will mean less mechanical efficiency and could even increase your chance of injury. This is not good.
And as you probably already know, doing yoga is a great way to gain flexibility. Not only that, but you’ll also get a little mental recharge from yoga as well.
But who has time to fit in hours of yoga each week? I’m barely able to squeeze in my scheduled runs – on top of all of my home and work commitments clamoring for my attention. Sure I’d love to spend a few hours in a brightly lit yoga studio, quietly posing and soaking in the Zen. But it’s a real challenge to fit it in.
Here’s the good news: there are a ton of GREAT yoga videos online that provide guided routines, many of them targeted specifically at runners. And many of them fifteen minutes or less! No matter how busy you are, I guarantee that you can carve out fifteen minutes for limbering up in the morning.
And here’s the great news – even just a tiny bit of yoga each day will provide huge benefits to your flexibility. Try it for a week. And then two weeks. And then tell me that you don’t feel much more flexible and that it helping you to fell looser on your runs.
My favorites are the beginner yoga videos by Brett Larkin. I use her 15-minute morning yoga routine nearly every day, except when I’m pressed for time and use her even shorter version. There are no weird poses or anything you won’t be able to do – just a series of basic stretches to limber up your legs, hips and spine.
Fifteen minutes each morning is all you need to keep you running your best and to get you primed to have an amazing day.