Today’s post comes from Trish Adkins, a certified yoga teacher who teaches both kids and adults; but has a particular passion for teaching special populations with yoga as a tool for recovery, pain management and therapy. As I am gearing up to walk the Breast Cancer 3-Day and trying to incorporate more yoga into my workouts and recovery, I turned to Trish for her advice on poses that will help with recovery. Here is her stellar advice regarding yoga poses for sore muscles:
Whether training for a walk or a run or simply amping up your weekly cardio workout, sore muscles can stop you in your tracks, literally. And while just having sore muscles is not a medical reason to stop working out, it can be completely demotivating. But, never fear, by introducing yoga into your weekly workout routine, you can minimize muscle soreness and shorten recovery time.
Sore muscles can happen during your workout because of the build up of lactic acid. This type of soreness should be worked through—feeling the burn and breaking through the burn leads to a true change in your muscle strength and memory. Sore muscles can also happen because you are using muscles you have not used in a while—this is called delayed onset muscle soreness. And of course, sore muscles can also develop from injury.
Yoga can help with strength building (which can delay the in-workout pain), post-workout recovery (which can minimized delayed onset soreness) and flexibility (which will help you prevent injury.). By understanding the cause, you can work towards the cure.
I practice yoga as often as possible—my aim is daily, but with three kids, I am lucky if I get in a short yoga practice 3 days a week. If you are integrating yoga into your rotation you can do these poses as a series or pick and choose your favorites to perform after your cardio workout.
Here are my 5 go-to yoga poses to help with muscle soreness.
Ujjayi breath which translates to mean “Ocean Breath” is often used in yoga class. When practiced, Ujjayi breath sounds like the gentle roar of ocean waves crossed with Darth Vader. It has the benefit of working your intercostal muscles (the muscles that run between your ribs) and other deep core muscles. This breath will help minimize your core muscle soreness, while soothing your soul. Breath work also helps increase your cardio capacity and send more oxygen to all your muscles.
To practice, sit comfortably. Begin to become aware of your breath by inhaling through your nose and inflating your torso and then exhaling through your nose and deflating your torso. After a few rounds of just breathing, press your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Close your mouth and continue breathing. Notice the soft humming of the breath. Practice for 5 complete rounds or how ever long you like. You can use this breath through all the yoga practice.
The Half-Sun Salutation
The half sun salutation is a mindful series of forward folds that help length your hamstrings, stretch your back and lengthen your arms. Begin standing with your feet hip distance apart and your arms at your sides. Inhale and draw your arms overhead. Exhale and length down towards your toes. If you cannot touch your toes, no worries. Simply place your hands on your legs wherever they land.
On an inhale, lengthen halfway up, making you back flat and keeping your hands on your legs. Exhale and fold back down into the full forward fold. Stay there as long as you like. Inhale and reserve swan dive all the way back up to where you began. Perform 3-5 rounds.
Bandha Konasana (Bound angle pose)
Bandha Konasana is a wonderful way to open your hips and inner thighs.
Sitting with your back straight, draw the soles of your feet together, pulling your heels in towards your body. Your hands are wrapped around your feet and your knees are out towards the side. Inhale and length spine, exhale and hinge forward until your inner thoughts scream (just a little) and then round your back. And breathe. Hold for 5-10 rounds of breath. Inhale and return to a seated position.
Yoga Mudra is an amazing pose for opening your shoulder and chest muscles, which tend to become tight when running or cycling. When your chest is open, your heart is open as well helping you breathe more efficiently. Sitting with your knees bent and your legs folded beneath you, lengthen up into a high kneel. Your arms are long at your side. Turn your thumbs out so your palms are facing forward. Draw both arms behind your back and interlace your finger tips. If your hands do not reach, you can use a yoga strap or an old men’s tie to make up the gap. Inhale and length your interlaced arms long. Exhale and fold forward, bringing your head or forehead to the floor. (You can also rest your head on a block or pillow.) Inhale and lengthen back up. Unlace your hands and do some shoulder rolls.
Savasana literally translate to mean corpse pose; but I always tell my students that it is “Let it all go” pose. So much is accomplished when you just lie still and focus on releasing tension.
To begin, lie on your back with your arms relaxed at your side. Breathe. Close your eyes. Then beginning at your feet and moving systematically through your body, mindfully relax each of your body parts. Make those sore feet of your like jelly. Your tired arms and legs like cooked spaghetti. Soften your brow, make you tongue heavy and just rest.
As with any exercise, check with your doctor before starting anything new. And if something hurts—like really hurts—stop and ask your doctor!
And if by any chance you might like to donate to breast cancer research, here is a link to my fundraising page.