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Guest blogger Heather Mims discusses what runners should & should not be doing in yoga.

Posted in Blog, Injury Prevention, News.

February 6th, 2013

Answers to Common Questions about Yoga

Today’s guest blog is from Heather Mims, who has been completing a clinical affiliation at Finish Line Physical Therapy since January. Heather has a BFA in Dance from UNC-Greensboro and an MFA in Choreography from the Ohio State University. She was a professional dancer and dance teacher for many years, and has been teaching and practicing Pilates for 10 years.

Many runners and triathletes supplement their training with yoga, and lately several athletes have asked questions about what they should and should not be doing in yoga in order to best take care of their body for running. As a future physical therapist and yoga practitioner myself, I can offer a few tips that I hope will be helpful.

  • Choose a class based on your needs that day. If you are looking for a more relaxing practice emphasizing moderate stretching, choose a class labelled “Gentle Yoga,” “Yin Yoga,” or “Restorative Yoga.” For a more vigorous class emphasizing strengthening as well as stretching, choose “Vinyasa Yoga,” “Power Yoga,” or “Ashtanga Yoga.” For a teacher with lots of training in modifying a yoga practice with props to achieve good body alignment, look for “Iyengar Yoga.”
  • If you are working with an injury, make sure to let the teacher know before class begins. A good teacher can often include some poses that are especially good for rehabbing your type of injury and can let you know which things you should not do during the class in order to avoid aggravating your problem.
  • Avoid teachers who give aggressive adjustments. A teacher should always ask before physically guiding your body further into a pose with any amount of overpressure, and it should be slow and gentle pressure that does not cause you pain other than a feeling of moderate muscle stretch.
  • Listen to your body at all times and do not hold any pose that causes pain. You will feel muscle fatigue and muscle stretch in most classes, but that is different from pain!!
  • If you have a low back, shoulder, or knee injury, be especially cautious with twisting poses. A rounded low back with a twisting movement at the same time can be a really bad idea if you have a disc problem. Binds and other arm positions that fixate the hands behind the back can irritate a shoulder injury. And seated poses with feet folded tightly to the body, especially while twisting the trunk, can irritate a knee injury. There are many ways to modify all of these activities, the simplest being to do the same pose minus the trunk rotation — but ask your teacher for help finding ways to use props to help you achieve a similar pose with no pain or risk of irritating your injury.

With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to safely balancing your running and/or cycling practice with a yoga practice. The benefits of improving your mobility and flexibility will be well worth the challenge of trying something new!

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