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Athletes & Explorers

Aug 25, 2018

Lynn Jung: Use Yoga to Prevent Injuries and Run Free

One of the world’s leading female Freerunners on how she uses yoga to stay competitive, and it applies to those that aren't jumping over a roof gap too.

WRITTEN BY

Lynn Jung

Lynn Jung will feature in an upcoming issue of The Outdoor Journal. You can make sure that you get your copy, here.

Passionate freerunners often suffer from tight muscles and rigid posture due to the repetitive stresses of training. Here’s how these simple asanas can help you prevent injuries and run free.

Lynn Jung is a Professional Parkour athlete and member of the London based Freerunning Team “Storm Freerun.” Lynn is one of the world’s leading female freerunners. Born and brought up in Luxembourg, Lynn moved to the UK in 2015 to pursue her passion for movement as a career. In 2016 Lynn won the Best Female award at Red Bull Art of Motion in Santorini, Greece.

Not all freerunners follow a regular stretching routine and for many the quests for strength and speed takes up most of their training. However, stretching and flexibility training have their place in Parkour.

Shoulder opening Asanas target muscle tightness in the chest and upper back. Stretching your chest, back and deltoids counteracts bad posture caused by muscle imbalances and tightness. Freerunners often struggle with tight pecs and a rounded back due to repetitive pulling motions during their training.

For those who have not yet attempted to jump over a roof gap or land a precision kong, these yoga moves can help reverse the negative impact of office stresses as well, such as extensive time seated at one’s desk.

Shoulder Opening Yoga Poses

1. Reverse Prayer or Pashchima Namaskarasana

Sit or stand up comfortably, float your arms down to either side of your body and, bending your elbows, reach your arms behind your back. Press your palms together in a prayer position on your spine and reach your hands as high up your spine as possible. Hold for five deep breaths. As an alternative to the fingers or palms touching at the back, the wrists or elbows can be grabbed.

2. Thread the Needle or Parsva Balasana

Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring your hips over your knees, and your palms directly under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward. Reach your left arm up to the ceiling and on your exhale thread it under your right arm, bringing your left shoulder to the mat. Rest your head on the mat and keep your hips lifted. Walk your right hand over to the right, and on your exhale, press through the right palm to open the chest towards the ceiling. Lengthen the right side of the torso while twisting your spine. Experiment with different arm positions to deepen the stretch and move around in the pose until you find the release that you need. Make sure to maintain focus on your breathing.

This Asana gently compresses the muscles of your upper chest, opens the upper and outer muscles of your shoulders and releases tension in your neck and upper back.

Muscles Stretched
Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids, Back of Neck, Spinal Erectors

3. Prone Lying Pec Stretch

Lie face down and place your right arm out to the side at shoulder height with your elbow bent, your palm facing down on the floor and your fingers spread apart. Turn your right ear to the floor and, by pressing your left palm down, roll your body to the right side. At the full pose you may have your left knee bent, with your left foot resting behind your right thigh. Increase the stretch by lifting your left arm to the ceiling, then drape the arm behind your back. Allow the side of the head to rest on the floor. Remain here for a few minutes then repeat on the other side.

Muscles Stretched
Pectoralis major and minor

4. Wide Leg Forward Fold with Clasp or Prasarita Padotanasana C

Start in a wide-legged stance and interlace your fingers behind your back. Inhale, squeeze your shoulder-blades and on your exhale, fold your body forward from the base of your spine, keeping your weight on your heels. Bring your hands up and over your head as far as possible. Push your stomach towards your thighs, lengthen your spine and gently release your neck. Stay here for at least 5 deep breaths. Release your hands to your hips and breathe in deeply as you lift back up to stand.

Quads and Hip Flexor Stretches

Here is why every freerunner should look after their hip flexors. Besides causing bad posture and lower back pain, tightness in the hip flexors also reduces our ability to explosively extend the hip, thereby reducing our vertical jump.

5. Low Crescent Lunge with Quad Stretch or Anjaneyasana

Start in a lunge position and lower your back knee to the floor into a crescent lunge. Let your hips settle down and forward and lift your pubic bone toward your navel. If this stretch is enough for you, stay here, or you can inhale and lift your torso. As you do, place your left hand on the outside of your right leg, bend your left knee bringing your left heel towards your bottom, and reach back to grab your foot with your right hand. Press firmly through your entire left hand and gaze toward the right, feeling the stretch deeper. Release the foot back behind you.

Variation

Staying in the low lunge position, place your left had on the floor and gently guide the right hip open with your right hand. Let your right foot roll over slightly. From here, feel free to bend your left knee and reach around with your right hand for your foot. This allows for a deep quadricep stretch with an even deeper opening of the hip. Hold for five breaths.

6. Lizard Pose or Utthan Pristhasana

This Asana is all about opening up the hips and groin. From a high lunge position, sink deeply into your hips and lower your forearms to the ground on the inside of your leading knee. Feel free to place your forearms onto blocks if you cannot comfortably bring them to your mat. Now lower your back knee to the floor. Lengthen your spine. If you can, lift your elbows off the floor and reach forwards with your hands. Stay here for five breaths.

The Outdoor Journal teamed up with Lynn at Yogaloft in her hometown of Luxembourg. Yogaloft is a boutique yoga studio with two locations in Kirchberg and Merl offering over 55 weekly yoga classes everyday for all levels in Vinyasa Flow, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Ashtanga, Mindfulness, Kundalini, Meditation and more! To learn more, visit www.yogaloft.lu.

Stay tuned to The Outdoor Journal for more collaborations with Lynn. To follow her Freerunning activities, check out www.stormfreerun.com and www.lynnjung.net

All Images © The Outdoor Journal

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Columns

Jul 04, 2018

How I Became a Runner

This article originally featured in a print issue or the Outdoor Journal.

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WRITTEN BY

Rachel Toor

You can subscribe here.

It’s hard to start running, but eventually the sound of your feet on the pavement, on the trail, on the earth – starts to sound like music. Rachel Toor recounts how she became a runner.

Let’s begin by admitting that when you start, it’s awful. After you lace up your new running shoes for the first time, step into your short shorts with the built-in panties, pull on a tee-shirt made of recycled plastic bottles or some other technical material that will, eventually, start to stink in the armpits no matter how often you wash it, when you head out the door for that debut run, you might feel good for the first few minutes. You might even feel great. You might hear Bruce Springsteen singing in your own head that tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

For those first few minutes.

And then everything will start to hurt. Each leg will feel like it weighs eight hundred pounds. You will appreciate oxygen in a way that you only appreciate things once they’re absent. Your heart will pound so hard you’ll think it’s as detectable as the organ in an Edgar Allen Poe story. It will tell the tale of your woe. And you will, make no mistake, feel filled with woe.

You may have been told to start out by walking fast to warm up and then running for a limited time, four or five minutes, maybe. Alternate walking and running, you may have been told. But you never knew minutes could last so long. You don’t think you can keep going. You never appreciated how nice it is to walk. You can breathe when you walk. Breathing is a good thing.

Your eyes may water. You may make wheezing noises. You may think you’ve coughed up a chunk of your lung.

All that money you spent on buying the right gear, the right clothes and shoes and maybe even a new big old ugly GPS plastic watch? Wasted. Halfway through your first run you decide you’re going to give it all away. That new tee-shirt won’t have a chance to get stinky, not from your pits.

Somehow, though, you make it through. You’re out there for however long you thought you should be. Maybe it’s ten minutes, maybe twenty, but you’ve done it. You feel a little good about yourself. You think maybe you could have gone a little longer.

Until the next morning when it hurts to get out of bed. You hobble around and nurse yourself with ice cream and think, What a silly idea that was. I’m not a runner. The next day is even worse. How can you be more sore the day after the day after you’ve run? Because that’s how it works.

But for whatever reason—stubborn pride, those few extra pounds around the middle, an upcoming reunion—you put on those sporty clothes again and venture out, once more into the breach.

Weirdly, it’s easier this time. You do the walking parts a little faster, run a little slower, and it feels almost good. Twenty minutes goes by and you think, Hey, this isn’t so bad.

Slowly, slowly, running becomes something you do.

Some days it’s good. Other days you can’t believe how hard it is. Some days, you have to trick yourself to get out the door. You don’t want to go. So you say, Maybe I’ll just put on my running clothes. You say, Maybe I’ll just go for ten minutes. You say, Maybe I’ll take it really easy and run extra slow. But once you get out there, you’re kind of happy. You like the way the air feels against your skin. You notice the call of birds you can’t identify. Your body begins to recognize the motion, the clip clip clip of your feet on the pavement, on the trail, on the earth. You settle into breathing.

Sometimes, you’re able to let your mind wander. You’ll find yourself thinking of people you’ve left behind. Or conversational topics you want to broach. You end up figuring out the solution to a problem you hadn’t quite realized you had.

Sometimes, you will put on headphones and run to the rhythm of a band you love, you’ll listen to a singer whose voice jabs you in the heart, and your mind will go effortlessly blank. You’ll be able escape from yourself.

Sometimes, you will meet a friend. You’ve been running enough now that it’s not impossible to talk. You would not have believed this could ever be the case, but in fact, you are able to carry on a discussion with someone whose company you enjoy. You might end up running farther than you thought you could. You might make a date to go again. It might become a weekly ritual.

Sometimes, you will want it to hurt. You want to make whatever emotional pain you’re feeling—the breakup of a relationship, a death, a failure—manifest. You will want to take it out on your body. You will enjoy the physical challenge of pushing yourself into agony. You will run so hard you think you might start bleeding from your eyeballs. You’re pretty sure you might collapse. You tell yourself that the German philosopher was right: that which doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. You pull out a bunch of other clichés about sports you’ve heard and realize that clichés are almost always true.

Sometimes, you will have a bad run. You will not be able to account for it. You will have gotten enough sleep, eaten well, be rested and healthy and nothing will have changed, but sometimes you just have a bad run. Even after you’ve been doing this for years and know to expect it, you are, nevertheless, always surprised when it happens.

Eventually, your body will change and harden and reconfigure itself. You will look down at your legs one day and not recognize them. When did they become so muscular? When did the jiggly bits stop jiggling? Where did those extra pounds around your middle go? You haven’t been dieting. In fact, you’ve been eating more than you used to. You’re hungry all the time. You start to see food as fuel.

Eventually, you will begin to recognize other runners. You will run past them on the street and raise a hand in greeting, which they will return. You’ll notice people wearing those big ugly GPS plastic watches with their civilian clothes. You’ll start to pay attention to race shirts.

Eventually, you might even start to enter races. You will be surprised that you get faster at each one. You’ll try different distances. You’ll wonder: Could I run a marathon? You’ll realize that you could. Of course you could. You might even want to go farther. You see the possibilities.

And eventually, running will stop being just something you do and instead it will have become a part of who you are. A runner.

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