by Karli Taylor
If you’re like me, one of the first things that cross your mind after a long run is “Oh, my aching back!”
It would appear that the muscles in your back have no more to do during a run than they do any other time you are upright, right? Whether you are running, walking, standing still or sitting without a back support, the muscles that make up your core, your hip complex and your lower back all work together to stabilize your spine and maintain your posture. Unfortunately, when one of the muscles on that team is weakened or injured, another one is forced to take up the slack. A weakness in any one of those muscles forces the others to take up the slack.
This month we will focus on strengthening the muscles of the core and releasing tension in the muscles of the lower back to lessen the load that running places on the spine.
Baddha Hasta Uttanasana, or Ragdoll, is a basic standing forward bending yoga posture that stretches the lower back.
Begin with your feet at least hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hinge forward from your hips while simultaneously bending your knees until your belly and thighs meet. Allow your head to hang down between your upper arms. Bend your arms and grab each elbow with the opposite hand.
If you feel stable, you can sway gently from side to side to assist in the release of the lower back muscles. Keep your knees bent and your head heavy.
After 30 seconds or so, release your hands, tuck your chin towards your chest and slowly stand by rolling up one vertebra at a time. Standing up too quickly will likely make you light headed!
Dead Bug is one of the simplest and most effective movements to strengthen your core without putting extra strain on your back. Unlike many crunching movements that require movement of the spine, dead bug required movement of the limbs while maintaining a stable core- much like you need on the run!
Lie face-up with your arms extended toward the ceiling, directly over your shoulders, and knees bent 90 degrees over hips, calves parallel to floor. Keeping your head and shoulders down and feet flexed extend your right arm back and straighten your left leg and lower it until they both hover right above the ground. Hold for a breath before bringing both limbs back to the starting position. You can alternate sides or complete 6-8 on one side before switching to the other.
If you need to bring the intensity down a notch, keep your arms down at your sides and just move the lower body. Looking to amp it up a little? Straighten your legs. Still not a challenge! Lift your head and shoulder blades off of the ground!
Karli Taylor: Yoga For Runners Archive
Yoga for Runners Yoga for Runners Column Introduction
Stretching Hip Flexors – Anjaneyasana & Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Exercises to Help in Stability - Ananda Balasana
Combating Runner’s Butt - Ardha Matsyendra