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Restorative Yoga & Stretching: What Every Endurance Athlete Needs to Know🧘

Updated: Jan 16

Exclusive Yoga Restorative Routine for Runners, Cyclists, and Triathletes Recovery

For many endurance athletes, improving their speed and distance is an exciting challenge.

If it sounds like you, your go-go-go tendencies may be holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Endurance athletes following a training plan should make sure that it covers them 360.

A comprehensive training plan, must include recovery, stretching, flexibility and other vital aspects that will help you sustains your gain and reach you personal bests.

You may improve and sustain your performance gains by stretching regularly and recovering with yoga. It's also a good method to de-stress and relieve tension.

We reached out to Ironman Coach & Yoga Instructor Karen Salmon to create the perfect restorative stretching yoga quick routine for all of our endurance runners, cyclists, and many triathletes in our tribe. Coach Karen had this to share with our tribe:

This Yoga sequence is designed especially for endurance athletes with the emphasis on movement before stillness. Finding the stillness in these poses especially with hips is what creates the movement we need to perform. It’s a beautiful circular pattern! ~Ironman Coach & Yoga Teacher Karen Salmon

Read this brief tutorial on the benefits of restorative yoga & stretching for endurance athletes to learn more about the advantages of adding this under 15 min restorative yoga routine to your training regiment especially if you are training for a marathon, triathlon, an ultra trail race or an endurance cycling event.

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is described as being gentle, helpful, and healing. Restorative yoga is, at its foundation, a passive healing practice.

The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by this yoga technique. To keep fundamental processes running smoothly, this is the "rest and digest" component of your nervous system.

It restores the body's parasympathetic nervous system function, which, in turn, helps the body relax, recover, and regain balance, as the name indicates.

Restorative yoga promotes relaxation by giving time for lengthier asanas (postures or poses) and deeper breathing. When this happens, it can assist to slow breathing and lower blood pressure as well as provide a sense of peace and well-being in the person.

Props such as blocks, bolsters, and blankets are essential in restorative yoga. Using props allows you to hold passive positions for a longer period of time without having to strain yourself or exhausting your muscles. In addition, it helps you to feel comfortable and supported, no matter how much or little yoga you've done before.

Woman Performing Pigeon Post Restorative Yoga
Pigeon Pose Perfect Hip Opener For Endurance Athletes

What Are the 7 Benefits of Restorative Yoga?

Here are the following 7 key advantages for restorative yoga for endurance athletes that are backed by science:

  1. Relaxes both the mind and the body.

  2. The nervous system is soothed.

  3. It improves your mood. It's been shown to help with depressed symptoms.

  4. Reduces the severity of chronic pain.

  5. It helps you sleep better.

  6. Enhances one's sense of well-being. It's possible that you'll feel less tired and more energized as a result of this.

  7. Take it easy on your body. Restorative yoga is simple to adapt and is suitable for use throughout injury rehabilitation and even pregnancy.

Body Parts That Endurance Athletes Need to Stretch

Tight hamstrings are a major issue for runners, cyclists, & triathletes, but there are many more factors at work. You need to stretch the rest of your body to fully relieve some of the tightness typically found in your legs and arms.

Keep these stretching tips in mind:

  1. Thighs Need Attention. Sprinting, long distance running and cycling can make your hamstrings tight and uncomfortable because the quadriceps on the front of your thighs are often much stronger than the hamstrings on the back of your thighs. Stretching and strength training can help eliminate this muscular imbalance.

  2. Loosen Your Hips/Pelvic. If you push yourself too hard training or increase your mileage too quickly - you may feel pressure on the outside of your thigh where your iliotibial band (ITB) runs from your hip to your shin. It’s also important for endurance athletes to pay attention to the groin area near the front of the hip.

  3. Stretch Your Calves/Soleus. Prevent cramps by doing exercises for the lower half of your legs. Your calves have to work very hard to push your weight off each foot when you swim, bike and run.

  4. Love On Your feet. Don’t forget to pamper your feet. A great pair of shoes will protect your feet but stretches are fundamental too for two of the hardest working body parts. Make it a habit to perform simple foot exercises that you can do sitting down, perhaps while you’re watching TV or playing candy crush on your phone.

  5. Don’t Forget Your Upper Body. Even though your legs perform most of the effort when you're running or cycling, your upper body plays a crucial role as well. Especially if you run on hard surfaces, your upper and lower back absorb pressure. Dexterity helps you keep a proper posture and move with minimal effort.

Women stretching doing yoga after a long workout run
Best Time to Stretch is AFTER a workout when muscles are warm

Stretching Techniques Endurance Athletes Need to Use

Keep your muscles flexible and strong, says Ironman Coach & Yoga Instructor Karen Salmon . In addition to swimming, biking and running faster and longer, it may help you to age more comfortably.

What Are the 7 Best Guidelines For Stretching?

  1. Respect Yourself and Your Boundaries. To feel a mild tug while stretching is normal, but if you feel any harsh feelings, back off. Remember to be patient and to stay in your comfort zone at all times.

  2. Make Use Of Different Approaches. Stretching may need to be postponed if you have injuries or excessively tight muscles. Massaging the region and applying ice to it might help you heal more rapidly.

  3. Warm Up. Static stretches are best done after a workout when your muscles are warmed up and ready for them. Prior to a training session, walk for a few minutes to get your blood circulating if you are stiff or cold.

  4. Breathe. Your breath is the only thing you need to pay attention to. Breathe in sync with your motions and your breath. As you tension each muscle before stretching, take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out as you relax and extend.

  5. Cool Down. Before putting down your running shoes, take a few minutes to stretch your muscles. Having a regular routine will pay off in the long run.

  6. Move with Ease. Muscle tension and tears are caused by bouncing. Continue at a moderate and steady pace, if possible. Hold stretches for around 30 seconds while remaining motionless.

  7. Resistance. Add strength training into your routine. When you train your muscles to work against an opposing force it will help you get greater results. Simply, use your hand or a band to gently press your body part in the other direction while you’re stretching.

In conclusion: What Every Endurance Athlete Needs to Know About Restorative Yoga & Stretching

Restorative yoga is a peaceful, passive style of yoga that allows you to focus on your breath while relaxing your muscles. Restorative yoga, unlike other types of yoga, asks you to maintain stretches or poses for an extended period of time.

Props such as folded blankets, blocks, or bolsters are frequently used in restorative yoga. These props assist to support your body and let you deepen the position and calm your entire body.

Restorative yoga is mild and usually regarded as safe for the majority of individuals and offers great benefits to endurance athletes when added to their training regiment.

Stay safe and reach your fitness goals by adding yoga, dynamic warm ups and regular stretching sessions to your training program.

You’ll be less likely to have to take days off to recover from injuries, and you’ll be swimming, cycling and running more comfortable and faster consistently.

If you have any concerns regarding the safety of restorative yoga, or stretching a certain body part - consult with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning.


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