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Post-Run Yoga Stretches | 5-Pose Yoga Fix

With each step, runners pound their bodies — and the impact on the joints and back can be 3–4 times your weight. So it’s no surprise runners often struggle with ankle, knee and back pain. The repetitive motion and sport-specific training also tightens and shortens the muscles and, without enough elongating and loosening, this can lead to imbalances in the body that eventually cause injuries.

Thankfully, yoga’s got your back — and your hips, hamstrings, quads and knees. Yoga lengthens and loosens your muscles and supple muscles act as natural shock absorbers to keep your body in structural balance, helping you chase away pain so you can run for the long haul. On your off days, a regular, longer yoga practice keeps you limber. After a run, hold each of these poses for 5–10 breaths to elongate and loosen the muscles you just worked.

PLANK

Runners often have strong legs, but a weak upper body and core. Plank is a total-body strength builder. It also lightly stretches the hamstrings and arches of your feet and stabilizes your spine and hips.

The move: Begin on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Engage your abdominals, tuck your toes and step your feet back. Keep contracting your abdominals so you create one long line from head to heels and avoid sticking your butt in the air or drooping your belly. Look slightly ahead of your fingers to keep your neck long. Hold for  5–10 breaths.

DOWN DOG

This pose opens hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Keeping these muscles long helps prevent shin splints and knee problems. This can be a tough pose for runners, so make it easier by taking your feet to the wide edge of your mat and keeping a soft bend in the knees.

The move: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Slide your palms forward so they rest forward of your shoulders, and tuck your toes under. As you exhale, press your palms into the ground and lift your knees, straightening both arms and legs. Your body will form a wide, upside-down V shape.

Push your thighs back, pressing your heels toward the floor, but don’t worry if they don’t touch. Broaden your shoulders by rotating your arms slightly so your elbow creases face the sky. Relax your neck, and take 5–10 breaths.

KNEELING LUNGE/LOW LUNGE

This pose stretches the thighs and groin while opening the hips.

The move: From down dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. It’s a big step, especially in the beginning. If your foot doesn’t make it all the way between your hands, inch it forward or use your right hand to help your foot along. Once your foot is between your hands, check your alignment. Make sure your right knee and ankle are in a straight line. Drop the back knee and slide forward slightly so you’re resting on the very upper part of the knee. Take 3–5 breaths here, then repeat the lunge on the other side.


READ MORE 5-POSE YOGA FIXES

> Stretches for Swimmers
> Stretches for Cyclists
> Stretches for Golf, Tennis and Baseball


COW FACE POSE

This stretches the hips, IT Band and the small, hard-to-stretch piriformis muscle deep in your glutes.

The move: Start in a comfortable, seated position and cross your right thigh over the left. Slide your feet out in opposite directions, as if you were tying a shoelace so that each foot rests next to the opposite hip. You’re aiming to stack one knee on top of the other, but a space between the two is normal. Try to sit evenly on your bottom.

Inhale and lift your left arm up overhead. Bend your elbow and rest your palm on your upper back or shoulder blade, depending on your reach. Use your right hand to gently press your left elbow down. Take the right around your back, palm facing out, and try to reach your left hand. If you can’t touch — and that’s common — take a towel or strap in your left hand and reach your right hand for the towel. Lift your left elbow toward the ceiling. Keep your spine tall.

After a minute or so, switch sides. Remember, if your right leg is on top, your right arm is the bottom arm, and if your left leg is on top, your left arm is the bottom.

SUPINE BIG TOE POSE

This pose lengthens and loosens the hamstrings, knee and calves. Loop a strap or towel around the ball of your foot to make the pose more accessible.  

The move: Lie on your mat with your legs extended. Hug the right knee into the chest and loop a towel or strap around the ball of the foot. As you exhale, begin to straighten the leg, extending the foot toward the ceiling. Keep both hips flat on the ground. To lessen the intensity, bend the left knee and place your foot on the floor. To deepen the intensity, slowly and gently pull the straight right leg toward you. Hold for 5–10 breaths and switch sides.


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN

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> Men’s Running Shoes
> Women’s Running Gear
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Salmon Smorgasbord Sandwiches with Edamummus | Recipe

Salmon-Smorgasbord

Embrace the Nordic cooking trend with this easy fork-and-knife sandwich. Look for moist, dense, whole-grain rye bread at natural food stores. The slices may look smaller than your standard sandwich bread, but they’re deliciously filling and packed with fiber.

Salmon Smorgasbord Sandwiches with Edamummus

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups (5 ounces) frozen shelled edamame, defrosted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tahini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 4 (2 ounce) slices whole-grain rye pumpernickel bread, toasted
  • 6 ounces cold-smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into thin ribbons with vegetable peeler (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup pea shoots or baby salad greens

Directions

In a food processor or blender, combine the edamame, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil with 23 tablespoons water and blend, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt to taste and set aside. (The edamame spread can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container.)

Spread the edamame mixture evenly on the toast. Top with the salmon, cucumber ribbons and greens. Sprinkle pepper over the sandwiches and serve.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4 |  Serving Size: 1 sandwich (1 slice bread, 2 1/2 tablespoons edammumus, 1 1/2 ounce salmon, 4 strips cucumber, 1/4 cup greens)

Per serving: Calories: 286; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 23mg; Sodium: 539mg; Carbohydrate: 28g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 18g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 225mg; Iron: 16%; Vitamin A: 11%; Vitamin C: 12%; Calcium: 6%

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Want to Be Healthier? Consider Team Sports

Solo activities might torch calories but research shows you could miss out on big benefits if you always choose to work out alone over joining team sports like volleyball or basketball.

When it comes to workouts, consider joining that corporate softball league or spending weekends on the gridiron. Team sports offer certain advantages over individual fitness activities, according to Rochelle Eime, PhD, an associate professor with the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University in Australia.

“The social nature of participation in team sports contributes to better mental health,” Eime explains. “This includes social connectedness, social support, peer bonding and self-esteem … For adults, social reasons are a main motivator to play sports.”

TEAM SPORTS GO BEYOND THE SOCIAL ASPECT

Team sports also offer significant health benefits: Research published in BMC Public Health found that participating in team sports increased overall physical activity levels. Moreover, a poll conducted by Harvard University found that adults who played sports reported improved physical health, lower levels of stress and positive mental health.

“When adults play sports, it’s about competition, personal satisfaction and health. More than one in five adults who play sports do so for health-related reasons, and it’s a priority in their lives,” Robert J. Blendon, the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.


READ MORE > DO VIRTUAL RUNNING PARTNERS MAKE YOU FASTER


Despite the benefits, adult participation in team sports is low. The Harvard researchers found just 25% of adults played sports — and participation declined with age, plummeting from 41% of 22–25 year olds to 26% of those aged 26–49 and just 20% of adults older than 50.

The poll also found gender differences in sports participation. Men were more than twice as likely to play team sports as women. Men preferred team sports like basketball and football whereas women were more apt to sign up for baseball or volleyball.

Eime, who has conducted several studies on team sports participation, notes, “In a study of adult females, participation in team sports was associated with better mental health and life satisfaction than for those women who participated in individual activities likes walking.”

Although it can be more difficult to find organized sports leagues for adults, the YMCA, local sport and social clubs and parks and recreation departments often offer options. Your workplace might also sponsor a team — if there isn’t one now, ask about starting a corporate league. Consider non-traditional teams, too: Team environments can be found in individual sports such as swimming and track and field. Even group exercise classes are designed to foster a “let’s do this together” approach to fitness.

Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD, executive board member of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology, notes that there is more to benefiting from team sports than signing up for a league and taking your place on the field or court. “The big important point here is that it’s not team sports that impart the benefit,” she says. “It’s a quality team sport experience that provides an opportunity for positive benefits.”

NOT ALL TEAM ENVIRONMENTS ARE HEALTHY

A team that is too competitive or focuses on performance — and pushes team members past their fitness levels, potentially causing injuries — could have the opposite effect. Dieffenbach suggests looking for leagues that are a good fit with your interest and skill or fitness level.

“Everyone likes to feel competent and feel like they fit in and their contributions matter,” she says. “A healthy team environment — one that has a positive leader and considers and supports participant development and well-being — can provide a level of challenge for motivation and fitness gains.”

If Little League was your last experience with team sports, look for opportunities to get together with others — a casual touch football league or kickball games in the park definitely count — and discover the benefits of breaking a sweat with a group.


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT GAME

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> Women’s Basketball Gear
> Boys’ Basketball Gear
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10 Healthy Swaps to Save You 200 Calories [Infographic]

Shaving 200  calories might not seem like a whole lot, but cutting this seemingly small amount from your daily intake can lead to gradual, but noticeable changes. In fact, it can help you lose 1 1/2–2 pounds each month if you do it right. (Remember: A pound is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories.) Check out these simple 200-calorie swaps that are so simple, your taste buds might not even notice.


READ MORE > 10 HEALTHY SWAPS TO SAVE YOU 100 CALORIES


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