Editor's note: Dana Santas is the creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, a yoga style designed to help athletes move, breathe and focus better. She's the yoga trainer for the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando Magic and dozens of pros in the MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL.
(CNN) -- If you're a runner, you've probably been told you "should do yoga."
While generic yoga classes can help with recovery, one of the best ways runners can use yoga is by applying it specifically to correct and prevent chronic issues, such as achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, knee discomfort, quad strains and hip pain.
Ask a runner about their past or present physical complaints and you can expect to hear about one or more of these conditions. So what's behind these ongoing problems?
Consider this: Running is a symmetrical activity and human beings aren't symmetrical. We all have a dominant side. Which side of your hips is your weight resting on as you read this? How about when you drive your car? Or sit on your couch?
Consequently, spending hours doing a symmetrical activity without awareness of your asymmetrical tendencies can wreak havoc on weight distribution and muscle firing patterns, resulting in compensations that feed all the issues listed above.
"Most runners' issues are due to an inability to transfer their center of gravity out of their dominant side," said Mike Cantrell, president of the Cantrell Center for Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Warner Robins, Georgia, and a faculty member at the Postural Restoration Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Lack of acknowledging the problem causes "a cascade of mechanical breakdown, particularly in elite runners."
Here are three yoga-based moves I use with running athletes to help them address compensations. These can be integrated into overall training programs or used as part of a dynamic warm-up.
From standing, inhale and raise your arms as you step forward with your right leg into a lunge. Exhale to hold. Inhale as you step back to standing and lower your arms. Repeat on the left side the same way. Once back to center, repeat on both legs, but exhale as you raise your arms and step forward, inhale on the hold and exhale to return back to standing.
Next, switch to step-back lunges, incorporating the same breathing pattern; begin stepping back on the inhalation and do the second set stepping back on the exhalation.
While practicing these, avoid rolling your forward foot inward or to the outer edge, and maintain knee alignment above the ankle. Be sure both hips point forward and your back-leg-glute area fires.
Pay attention to your breath and core stabilization. If your pelvis and diaphragm function properly, you should be able to stabilize and absorb the shock of stepping backward or forward on either side, regardless of phase of breath.
Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Be sure your feet are pointed forward and aligned horizontally. Your knees/feet indicate hip position, so a forward knee/foot means your hip on that side is pushed forward. Position yourself to place your hips, knees and feet in alignment. Exhale and lift your hips. Inhale and release to the floor. Repeat 8-12 times.
Pay attention to weight distribution in your feet and whether your hips lift evenly; you shouldn't rely on one side more.
Like the lunges, this move allows you to establish awareness and work to correct favoring one side of your body while also counterbalancing quad and hip-flexor dominance with proper hamstring and glute firing.
Start in a bridge position, but place your arms out to the sides and feet wider than hip distance with knees dropped inward. Exhale and allow both knees and legs to drop to the right, coming as close to the floor as comfortable without pain. Inhale and bring the knees together again. Exhale and take the knees left. Repeat 10 times (five each side).
This move stretches and inhibits runners' overactive hip flexors and quads.
(CNN) -- Sheldon Shiraki sits at the bar in the trendy Fritti restaurant in Atlanta, happily sipping an ice cold cocktail.
Asked how many drinks it would take for the government to consider him a "heavy drinker," he laughs.
"I don't know -- maybe 25 to 30 drinks," Shiraki says.
"A month?" I ask.
"A week," Shiraki says with a smile.
"Let me do the math," his friend Pamela Gjerde says from the next bar stool over. A local, she calls the bartender by name and says she will sip a glass of white wine a couple days a week. For a woman to be considered a "heavy drinker" she thinks she'd have to have 15 to 20 drinks weekly.
They both looked shocked to learn they seriously overestimated the number.
Women are considered "heavy drinkers" if they have eight or more drinks a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men can have 14. At 15, you, my friend, are a "heavy drinker" in the eyes of the CDC.
One in 10 deaths among adults between the ages of 20 and 64 are due to excessive alcohol consumption, the CDC says in a report released Wednesday. That means some 88,000 people die a year as a result of drinking too much. The majority of those are men -- about 70%.
Do you consider yourself a light, moderate or heavy drinker? Health agencies have these definitions to help you understand when your drinking may become a health problem.
The definition is different for women because women's bodies are typically smaller than men's. They also metabolize less alcohol in the stomach, meaning more ends up in their blood stream.
A standard "drink," by the way, is not that big frosty mug or that giant Hurricane glass you kept from Mardi Gras. The CDC says a drink is 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content), 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor -- the fancy term for gin, rum, vodka, whiskey etc.
"That seems awfully low," Shiraki says. "I would think someone is a heavy drinker if they get drunk all the time. Two or three a night wouldn't do that."
"That definition is crazy."
1 serving of liquor = 1.5 ounces
1 serving of beer = 12 ounces
1 serving of wine = 5 ounces
"The definition of 'heavy drinker' has evolved over the last 20 years and it is based on scientific evidence about the harmful consequences of drinking too much," says George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who has sat on the committees that create those definitions.
The definition on NIAAA's website of "heavy" or "at-risk" drinking is the same as the CDC's.
But the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has another. They say "heavy use" is "five or more drinks on the same occasion, on each of five or more days in the past 30 days."
So which one is it?
"It's imprecise and not quantitative. I try to avoid using terms like 'heavy,' 'light' and 'moderate' for that reason in my publications," says Dr. Arthur Klatsky who has been studying alcohol and its impact on humans for decades. "The problem is everyone always wants to know if they fit into one of those categories."
Koob says the definitions vary because they're "not handed down to Moses from God on Mount Olympus." They are based on epidemiological studies that show the long-term negative consequences of heavy drinking.
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that heavy drinking was reported by 6.5% of the population over 12. That's about 17 million people. The rate was the same in 2011.
Those statistics are probably undercounting the real numbers, both Koob and Klatsky say.
Heaving drinking can lead to chronic diseases, including problems with your liver, throat, larynx and esophagus. It can lead to high blood pressure, psychological problems, and pancreatitis. It even puts you at an increased risk for becoming a victim of violence.
And of course you ultimately risk becoming an alcoholic.
Too much -- or not enough?
One in 4 people who fall into the "heavy drinking" category already have an alcohol abuse problem, according to the NIAAA. Binge drinkers -- women who drink more than four drinks in an outing and men who drink more than five -- are a growing concern.
"The real worry these days is the number of young people who binge drink in college," Koob says. "We were all 21 once, we all drank, but what this generation considers intoxicated has doubled over the last 20 years.
How to cut back
Keep your drinking at a moderate level with these suggestions:
1) Think about what it does to your waistline. On a typical night out, women in one study consumed 1,000 calories in alcohol alone.
2) Don't rely on willpower -- control your environment to limit your exposure to alcohol.
3) Replace drinking with another activity, like playing tennis or watching a movie with friends.
"Binge drinking has become a disturbing norm."
Not only does this put students at risk for violence, sexual assault, and all the above mentioned diseases, it can damage their brains. The frontal cortex -- the part of the brain that helps you make decisions and control impulsivity -- doesn't develop fully until you are 25. Binge drinking, studies show, can delay development of executive function.
Klatsky says the pattern of when you drink is just as important to your health as the total number. Abstaining much of the week and then having all seven drinks on Saturday is also bad for your health.
In addition to knowing what defines "heavy drinking," people should also know what "light" and "moderate" drinking is, Koob says.
Studies show the mortality rate for people who drink moderately on a daily basis is actually lower than those who don't indulge.
"There are health benefits to a lower level of drinking."
Klatsky says it is more important to focus on the broader issue of alcohol problems than getting caught up in semantics.