By Dana Santas
Jumping into any run, especially a marathon, without a proper warm-up is a recipe for strained muscles -- or worse! That’s why I asked one of my yoga students -- seasoned marathon-runner Jodi Karuso, aka “Run Jodi” -- for help in creating a quick and simple sequence for runners to get ready for the race -- no mat or bare feet required!
To go the distance, Karuso says runners need to focus on upper- and lower-body moves that not only stretch and open those areas, but also encourage proper muscle activation. This five-move, two-minute sequence does just that, and Karuso says doing this warm-up right before you head to the starting line will make it easier to establish and sustain a consistent pace (as well as reduce your recovery time so you'll be able to walk the next day without too much moaning!). So invest two minutes pre-race to avoid 24 to 48 hours of suffering! (Note: Runners with a history of knee or foot injuries -- and especially runners new to yoga -- should consult a doctor or physical therapist before trying this warm-up, since yoga can put additional stress on these areas.)
Inhale as you bring your hands overhead and come into a slight backbend. Open your chest and engage your core for balance and back support.
Benefits: Opens the chest and shoulders; strengthens and lengthens core muscles
Exhale as you hinge from your hips and bring your hands to the ground. Bend your knees as much as necessary to move from your pelvis/hips and avoid rounding your back.
Benefits: Encourages functional pelvic movement and stretches hamstrings
Inhale as you lift your chest, engage your core and step your right foot back into a lunge. Keep your hands on the ground and activate your right glute to stabilize your hip extension.
Benefits: Stretches hip flexors and quads; activates glutes and core
Exhale as you drop your back heel and windmill your arms up to Warrior 2 position -- shoulders above your hips with your left arm forward and right arm back. Keep your front knee aligned directly above your ankle.
Benefits: Stretches groins and hips; opens the chest
Inhale as you extend from your back and side waist to reach your left arm up and back, allowing your right arm to slide down your right leg -- without bearing weight. Maintain the bend in your forward knee.
Benefits: Stretches groins and hips, opens the chest and lengthens side-waist muscles
Exhale to return to Warrior Two, and repeat the steps backwards to return to standing. Repeat the sequence again, doing the lunge and Warriors with your left leg back.