Rocky, rooty terrain. An unexpected dip in the road. A lapse in focus. Whatever the cause, 20% of runners have experienced a foot or ankle injury.
And even for those who haven’t, improved strength and mobility in your lowest of extremities will do nothing but improve your game and gain. Stronger feet means you’ll better adapt to terrain. It means you’ll have better muscular endurance. And it means you’ll have better single-leg balance.
For those of you questioning: Single-leg balance, what’s that have to do with me? Well, running is nothing more than a series of single-leg propulsions. Every time you lift one foot from the ground to stride forward, you’re balancing on the other foot.
So you get the point, right — runners need strong feet and ankles. And there’s no better way to achieve that than with a little yogic work, in which we are constantly using ankle muscles in both static poses and dynamically while transitioning between them. For example, think of Crescent Warrior. You plant into one foot, while you rest on the toes of the other foot. This statically works and strengthens your front foot, while stretching the underside of your back foot. Take this pose into deeper balance work by loading up your front foot and rolling off your back toes to take off into Warrior 3. Now the ankle of your standing leg is working all of the tiny muscles around your ankle to improve its strength.
While we encourage you to take a full Cleveland Yoga class, here are a few other poses you can extrapolate from the practice for when you only have a few minutes to dedicate to working foot and ankle mobility.
Gain: hip and ankle strength
Gain: improved dorsiflexion for ankle adaptability; more mobility through your stride
Gain: increased plantar flexion range of motion