From dodging rocks and roots on the trail to repetitive pounding on concrete or asphalt, running of all varieties can create tightness in the same areas of the body: calves, quads, hamstrings, lateral thighs (or IT bands) and hips.
Trail running tends to be more dynamic because the runner has to spot his or her landing with every step. The body is moving linearly, side to side, and diagonally. There’s less opportunity for injury because of the lack of repetition.
In road running, however, constant pounding on hard surfaces ups the potential for stiffness, soreness, and repetitive stress injuries.
First step: Run with awareness. In both trail and road running, it’s important for the runner to keep the breath strong and even and to remain consciously aware of every step, until running becomes moving meditation. The key to preventing injury is awareness.
Follow this series of poses every day to stay loose and keep your stride. Start with the right leg, moving through all four poses in a sequence. Remember to keep from bouncing in all of the postures. Then switch legs and repeat the sequence.
Josh Schrei is a yoga teacher at Body in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and an endurance athlete. He placed 9th among 40- to 49-year-old males in the Jemez 50K Trail Race last year. In October, he’s planning to do 3,000 sun salutations around South India’s sacred Arunachala mountain to raise money for Water.org.