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Posted by Naturopath . on

Yoga and running go together perfectly like salt and pepper, like celery and peanut butter, like chocolate and strawberries; you get me, they just complement each other.

I'm going to come right out and say it, if you're going to be a runner, you simply must stretch.

The shear nature of running is repetitive, and it is high impact. Only a tiny percentage of us have excellent posture with ideal muscular balance. Most of us have weak glutes that do not stabilise our hips and back as well as nature intended. Whenever one muscle group is not performing up to scratch, the opposing muscle group takes the strain. For example, if the glutes are weak, the hip flexors will tighten to try to keep our pelvis strong. The hamstrings will do more work than they should and so tighten up. The quads start doing the same thing. The calves follow suit. And this can all begin purely by not breathing properly using your diaphragm. You can see how over time, if you do not take the time to stretch our your body, things can backfire and a whole domino effect of injury may prevail. Good bye running.

Now I don't mean to be negative at all, running is amazing on for the mind, body and spirit. But if you wish to run, you simply must be conditioned for it, understand your own posture and biomechanics and work toward physical balance.

Welcome yoga, the sport of balance.

It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to observe that yogis (people who practise yoga on a regular and consistent basis) are not only calm and peaceful, but also have an amazing open and upright posture with vibrant and uplifting energy. Yoga teaches us to be aware of our breath, every muscle in our body, and stretches us through every plane to release not only tight muscles but also fascial slings (groups of muscles and tissues linked together). Yoga needs to be practised consistently at least once per week (the more the merrier) and the benefits can be quite profound and immediate. Patience is also required; the longer your muscles have been tight, the longer they will take to release. The important thing is to remain positive and honour your body; never get frustrated with yourself, let the pose fit your body rather than straining your body to look like a certain pose.

I know what you're thinking now... where on earth will I find an extra hour, 1, 2 even 3 times per week to do yoga?? Aaaah help!!

Here's where I'll try to simplify it a little for you :) If committing to yoga means it's just you on your mat in your lounge room for 15 minutes, that's a great start. If this sounds like you, it's best to focus on the muscles that tighten up the most from running; your hip flexors, glutes, ITB (ilio-tibial band), calves, lumbar and thoracic spine.

Here are my top 10 yoga asanas (poses) for runners. I recommend you look each one up on youtube to get a proper rundown on the technique for each.

1) Bridge pose - Stretches the chest, neck, spine and hips. Strengthens back, glutes, hamstrings. It also aids digestion and stimulates the lungs, thyroid gland and abdominal organs.

2) Downward Dog - This is an inversion, which means the head is below the heart, aiding blood and lymph flow and detoxing the body. Strengthens and tones the arms and legs and stretches the lower, middle and upper back as well as calves and hamstrings.

3) Seated Spinal Twist - Stretches the hips and shoulders and develops strength and flexibility in your back. This pose can also be beneficial in stimulating the liver, kidneys and helping to relieve menstrual pain and sciatica.

4) Crescent lunge - A deep stretch on the hip flexors and strengthens the arms and legs.

5) Tree pose - Improves balance and stability in the legs, assisting in pelvic stability which is so important in running where most of the stride is on one leg. It also helps to strengthen and tone the entire leg up to the glutes.

6) Cobra pose/ Upward facing Dog - Stretches the upper back and front of body. Strengthens arms, shoulders and spine. Counteracts poor posture and opens the chest and lungs.

7) Childs pose - Gently stretches the lower back, hips, knees and thighs, a good balanced stretch to perform after upward facing dog. Relaxes the spine, neck and shoulders. It also massages internal organs and helps to relieve stress and tension.

8) Forward fold with chest expansion - Forward folds stretch the hamstrings and lower back. The added chest expansion opens up tight pec muscles, which tighten up from being slumped forward with poor posture.

9) Pigeon - Stretches the glutes, groin and hip flexors, specifically the psoas muscle. This stretch may aid in relieving piriformis sydrome and sciatica.

10) Triangle - Stretches the legs, hips, groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. Strengthens legs, abs, obliques and back.

Before beginning a yoga program, it's always best to consult your health care practitioner for advice and any specific contraindications.

Good luck on your yoga journey :) Once you start, you'll wonder what took you so long! 




Personal Trainer, Health & Wellness Expert; Health Writer & Presenter

She is a qualified Fitness Trainer & Yogafit Instructor; holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health and Human Movement; and is a qualified CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach & Reiki & NLP and Timeline Therapy Practitioner; and it doesn’t stop there.  

For Kirsty, health and wellness is a way of life and she is keenly passionate about inspiring others to help them achieve their optimum health. Aside from running a successful personal training business, Kirsty has also worked extensively in the media & entertainment industry; as the personal trainer for Mel B (Scary Spice), the 2011 Final 12 X-Factor contestants, and as the behind-the-scenes trainer for Channel 9′s BIG: Extreme Makeover.

Today, she appears regularly in The Sunday Telegraph’s Body+Soul weekly lift out, recently becoming the face of their body + soul revolution program – a 10week online diet and fitness program aimed at helping people achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

She also appears regularly on, writes for Women’s Fitness magazine and Yahoo! 7 Lifestyle and is regularly quoted by various newspapers and magazines for her outstanding knowledge of health and fitness.


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