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  • Laura Dunham

Top 4 Postures for Running/Walking

Running and walking have always been popular forms of exercise and with the lockdowns meaning we have had more time on our hands than ever before, more of us have taken to clocking up the miles and spending time in nature as a way to look after our physical and mental wellbeing.

It is fantastic that many of us are moving more and spending time outdoors, however, with an increase in activity and miles (whether that’s now walking or running 5k from 1k, using the word ‘miles’ does not have mean a lot), there should also be an increase in active rest, looking after our bodies through stretching and yoga to prevent against tightness, stiffness and potentially injuries to help us recover quicker and effectively.

Through stretching or a consistent yoga practice, you won’t only be nourishing, lengthening and looking after your muscles, you will also gain a greater sense of bodily awareness, your posture and understand how to regulate and control your breathing. These are all essential factors that will help you understand more about your body when moving and how you could adjust things physically to ensure you get the most out of it.

As someone who loves to move, yoga has deeply enhanced my ability particularly to enjoy running and feel good whilst doing so.

It’s a year since I completed my first ever half marathon and over a year since I discovered the joy of running, I could not have done any of that without yoga and to be honest, I am not sure how people do! Of course, running is still very challenging and I do feel that in my body, however, yoga has taught me the skills and provided the flexibility and strength to find it easier and understand how to get through the particularly gruelling times. Not to mention how the stretching has provided relief for a tired body.

To help you continue to walk and run with enjoyment and ensure you can keep doing it too, here’s some of the key postures I practice to help keep my legs, hips and back feeling rejuvenated from all the activity.

These postures can be practised in various ways, as not all yoga postures are suitable for everyone’s body and ability, therefore, I have included the variations below. I hope there's something for everyone. If, when practising these postures, you feel any pain or discomfort the posture should be left immediately. Always work to a level that suits you.

1. Half Lying Twists A.K.A Supta Matsyendrasana

These are good postures to target the lower back whilst opening up the chest and providing a stretch and length through the hips and legs.

Top tip: think about keeping both shoulders on the floor and if there's any discomfort in the neck, keep it in a neutral position.

2. Pigeon A.K.A Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

An all time popular posture, pigeon provides a deep stretch of the hips and is perfect to lengthen the iliotibial band (IT Band) an area of particular tightness among us walkers and runners!

Top Tip: Keep the hips in line, facing forwards and if in variation 1, gently edge the top knee away to deepen the stretch of the quadricep.

3. Yogi Squat A.K.A Malasana

Another key posture to stretch the groin and hips.

Top Tip: If variation 1 is particularly hard to do, pop a block, book or rolled up blanket or mat under your heels to help take the tension off the Achilles heel. If feet are on the floor, focus on ensuring your feet are not rolling in and in both variations, let the spine lengthen, look ahead and gently draw knees out by using the elbows. Breathe.

4. Low Lunge A.K.A Anjaneyasana + Variations

Lunges are my favourite postures for working into the groin, an area that can get very tight if not stretched out regularly after running or walking. Each variation above takes the stretch that little deeper and helps you to really work into this area.

Top Tip: For variation 1, you can always take hands to hips if shoulders are tight and variation 4 is the Runner's Lunge, a perfect one to stretch out the hamstrings. Keep the knee bent if there's a lot of tension. You do not have to have a straight leg here. Protect your joint and hamstring by gently bending at the knee.

In all variations, lengthen your spine and upper body, allow your chest to open and think about creating space.

In all postures above let your breath flow freely. Holding the breath in will only keep tension in the body and the key thing is to focus on allowing the tension to drain and the body to let go. If you can, inhale through the nose and out through the nose or mouth. Find a calming rhythm that suits you and work with the exhale to release.

Motion is lotion and looking after our bodies will help us to keep doing more of what we love with ease and feel good for it.

For more postures and top tips, I currently hold a live online class on Thursday evenings via Zoom, which is also recorded, so you can catch up with yoga at any time that suits you. Enjoy!

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