Yoga for Runners? This Houston Foot Doc Says Yes!

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How to do the windshield wiper yoga pose for runnersThe more I get into running as part of my training for the Avenger’s Half-Marathon, the more I gain first hand experience of how easy it is to get a running-related injury. In addition to carefully choosing your shoes, engaging in proper warm ups and cool downs and always building rest days into your training regimen, I’ve come across some yoga poses that can help prevent running injuries such as Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.

Both of these injuries can occur when the stronger side of your body compensates for your weaker side, resulting in overuse injuries that cause pain and inflammation.

Yoga can help balance your body’s strength, allowing you to distribute your weight evenly when you run and lessening the impact on your delicate feet, muscles and tendons.

Three moves in particular were highlighted by Dana Santas for CNN because of their importance to runners:

Step-forward/step-back lunges
From standing, inhale and raise your arms as you step forward with your right leg into a lunge. Exhale to hold. Inhale as you step back to standing; lower  arms. Repeat on left side the same way. Once back to center, repeat on both legs, but exhale as you raise your arms and step forward, inhale on the hold and exhale to return back to standing.

Next, switch to step-back lunges, incorporating the same breathing pattern; begin stepping back on the inhalation and do the second set stepping back on the exhalation.

When lunging, avoid rolling your foot in out and maintain knee alignment above the ankle. Be sure both hips point forward.

Flowing bridge
Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Be sure your feet are pointed forward and aligned horizontally. Position yourself to place your hips, knees and feet in alignment. Exhale and lift your hips. Inhale and release to the floor. Repeat eight to 12 times.

Pay attention to weight distribution in your feet and whether your hips lift evenly; you shouldn't rely on one side more.

Windshield wipers
Start in a bridge position, placing arms out to the side and feet wider than hip distance with knees dropped inward. Exhale and allow both knees and legs to drop to the right, coming as close to the floor as comfortable without pain. Inhale and bring the knees together. Exhale and take knees left. Repeat 10 times (five each side).

Of course, yoga can help support runners, but if you still experience pain during or after a run, schedule an appointment immediately with your Houston podiatrist to rule out a potential injury. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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