Is yoga good for recovery? We get asked this a lot, especially during marathon training, when runner’s are always looking for ways to get more stretching and mobility into their routines. For a pretty straightforward question, the answer is less so. Are you asking about going to a yoga class? Is it hot yoga, vinyasa flow etc? Or are you using yoga poses to stretch after a run?
There are many different types of yoga (vinyasa, yin, hatha) and each can have a place in a runners training plan. You can definitely find me in Savasana after a long run or hard effort but a full yoga class is actually more of a workout than recovery. Take your traditional vinyasa flow class- a warrior 2 pose is a lunge on your forward leg while stretching your back leg. So yes, you’re getting stretching in but you’re ALSO doing body weight strength. To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this! It’s just not considered a rest day.
Using yoga poses to stretch after a run however, can be very beneficial. A recent review of multiple studies examined different types of active recovery methods on the presence of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The authors looked at multiple types of active recovery methods including aqua jogging, cycling, jogging and yoga. They found that the practice of yoga improved overall flexibility and helped to improve DOMS following intense exercise.
While the above study didn’t specify exactly what type of yoga led to these results, a quick 10 minute yoga flow post run is a great cool down strategy. Aim to hold each pose for 30-60 seconds giving your muscles the benefit of a static stretch before flowing into the next pose. We’re here if you need help getting started!
Fares, R., Vicente-Rodríguez, G., & Olmedillas, H. (2021). Effect of Active Recovery Protocols on the Management of Symptoms Related to Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Strength & Conditioning Journal, Publish Ahead of Print. https://doi.org/10.1519/ssc.0000000000000654
Lisbeth Hoyt, PT, DPT, CSCS