“Research shows that it takes 4,000 – 6,000 reps to change muscle memory”
Which led me to ask the question – how many yoga classes is that?
After a quick calculation it equals roughly 6 yoga poses every day for a year – if we say 1 yoga pose = 2 reps (one for the movement of the body with the inhale, and one for the exhale).
If you go to yoga class once a week, and in that class complete a range of anything from 15-29 poses, you are already well on your way to making changes to muscle memory. But why does that matter?
Let’s place the research fact in its true context, because it was taken from Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention.
Reading the book it became apparent that yoga falls neatly into the category of training (for runners) that Dicharry defines as complementary. By moving and using different muscles groups in a yoga class, a runner will work in a different mode ie. not just lifting and swinging the arms and legs up and down repeatedly.
The main point is that over time, and hundreds of miles, if runners are not constantly working on form, style and strength, bad habits and patterns of incorrect and limited muscle memory can develop – those that cause injury. If not corrected, and the root cause of the problem identified, then a running related injury will resurface – even after R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation). The additional issue is that if a runner suddenly decides to increase their mileage, or try a new workout – without preparing the muscle groups adequately beforehand – an injury may be on it’s way.
If you haven’t yet tried yoga I suggest you give it a go – to complement your running and improve the range of movements that your muscles ‘remember’. Take time to research the variety of yoga classes available in your area, and if possible, go to a beginner’s class after a run – take it easy, have fun and learn something new! Arriving at your first class early is usually a good idea so you can talk to the teacher, and don’t be afraid to explain that you are a runner! According to Dicharry runners are supposed to be abit less bendy, but that’s another blog post…