Happy Hips for Running Happy

One of my biggest blessings and pleasures in life is teaching Yoga for Runners.  I have immense passion and love for the sport, and utmost respect for everyone who runs.  But I also know how much running can beat up someone’s body, and how much wear and tear runners suffer.  I myself have been through a series of injuries that were physically debilitating, completely deflated my spirit, and left me sidelined for months.  So my goal as a teacher is to help my runners find their ease of movement both on the mat and on the road.

Many runners complain of tight achy hips and want big stretches.  What often ends up happening is that their hips feel even tighter the day after.  In my experience, this tightness is often caused by imbalances in the hip girdle and/or weakness in the glutes.

My approach is to correct the imbalances on the mat by stretching opposite muscle groups equally: if you do Pigeon pose to stretch the tensor latae fasciae and the illiotibial band (outer hip) you should balance it with Frog pose to stretch the opposing adductor muscle group (inner thigh).

Strengthening the hip girdle sometimes can be as easy as a quick dynamic warm-up and activating the right muscle groups before you head out for your run.  I use a quick Myrtle routine before all my runs, which incorporates both strengthening and mobility we need for happy running.

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Yoga for Runners – Tree Pose

SNari Tree Posetrengthens: Feet, ankles, calves. Quadriceps, piriformis, gluteus. Postural muscles. Improves sense of balance.

Stretches: Hip of the lifted leg, groin.

Main Focus: Press the foot of the standing leg into the mat and press the foot of the lifted leg into the standing leg (avoid the knee!). The engagement of both legs will make balancing easier.

As runners, proprioception, our internal sense of our body position and motion, is incredibly important, as we dodge pot holes and puddles, gawking pedestrians in the city, and roots and rocks on the trails. Balance training is a good way of improving one’s proprioception and coordination and preventing injuries, such as ankle sprains.

Tree pose tackles it all: it strengthens the foot, ankle, and calf of the standing leg as well as the postural muscles; it allows you to stretch the groin and the hip of the lifted leg; and it challenges and improves your balance, helping you OM to your PR. Read more for aligment cues and modifications.