Look, I’ve tested this theory out. I’m not just preaching this because I’m a qualified (and bossy) yoga teacher who specialises in working with runners.
I’ve also run – and survived – 15 marathons (I just conquered Chicago Marathon which was amazing. I’ve also tackled countless half-marathons, fun runs and even been crazy enough to sign my body up for a few mud runs. I write about the fitness and health industry for a living and so I tell people this is my “work”. But, I admit it: This is not really “work. I freaking love this s***!
In a nut shell, I can feel the difference when I stretch (and when I don’t), particularly after a long run. That next day can be hell if I don’t stretch; I can end up walking like a cowboy who is poised ready to shoot. And stairs are NOT my friend.
Personally, I credit stretching with increasing my range of mobility and helping me to move more freely. It’s also a good tool to help me to shake the cobwebs out of my busy brain and it has taught me the art of “stillness”. Before doing yoga, I was such a fidgeter and could not sit still if my life depended on it.
Science-wise, running essentially tightens up your muscles and so you need to stretch in order to counteract that. Unless you like looking like a crazy cowboy…
Stretching before a run helps to warm up the body and prepare the body for movement. So do some moving, dynamic stretches for a few minutes before a run – and that’s all you really need to do. There is no need for an hour-long yoga class before a run, okay people!
Meanwhile, after running, just commit to a few minutes to doing a short stretch-out too. This helps to boost length back to the muscles, increases blood flow to the joints and working muscles and helps you to chill out too.
And lastly, you don’t have to be super flexible to do yoga. That’s not the idea at all. It’s just about using a tool to help your body to move better – and ultimately run better.