As a runner, there have been too many mornings where I have woken up with tight hamstrings, hips and quadriceps to not understand the importance of stretching. But most recently, I’ve started incorporating yoga into my cross-training routine.
Why Yoga for Runners?
Not only does yoga create an opportunity for runners to stretch and relax their muscles after logging miles, it also helps increase range of motion, creates balance, and stability. Regular practice also helps strengthen runners core and glutes, which might even make long runs a little easier!
Regardless of where you are in your running or yoga journey, there are a few poses to focus on.
Pull the hips back into downward facing dog. Hands should still be shoulder-distance apart, fingers spread wide. Drop your head and make sure that your feet are hip width apart. Inhale and lift high the balls of your feet. When you exhale press the heels back down and lengthen your neck. Peddle out each leg before coming into a stationary pose. Hold the pose for at least 5-6 full, deep breaths.
Good for opening the back of the legs, lengthening your glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Start in a low lunge with right foot outside right hand and left leg extended straight back. Keep spine long and core engaged, then slowly lower onto forearms. Hold for 5-8 deep breaths, allowing your hips to open and relax with each exhale.
Good for stretching your hips, hamstrings and releasing tension in lower back.
Start on your hands and knees, pull your right knee towards your right shin on the floor. Rotate your right ankle towards your left wrist so your shin stretches out parallel in front of you. Slide your left leg back so it extends out nice and long behind you. Keep your hips squared and allow your upper body to fold forward. Let gravity work it’s magic and try to hold for 5-10 long breaths before repeating on the other side.
Good for stretching for your hips and hip flexors, which can also help relieve back pain and sciatica.
Bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall open like a butterfly, keeping the bottom edge of your feet pressed into your mat. Slowly let your knees fall to the floor, but not forcing them.
Good for stretching your inner thighs and opening up tight hips.
Separate your knees wide and hold on to the sides of your feet. Roll side to side or whatever feels good. Stay in happy baby for 5 breaths.
Good for opening your hips and releasing tension in the lower back, glutes, and groin.
Bend your legs so your feet are on the floor wider than hip distance apart. Open your arms into a T shape and slowly let both knees fall to the left as your head rolls to the right. Then bring the knees back to center and allow them to drop to the right, turning your face to the left. Like windshield wipers on the slowest setting, move your knees from side to side. Rock back and forth 4 times, finishing with the knees to the right.
Good for releasing tension in the lower back and increasing flexibility in the spine.
Start on your hands and knees, with your knees planted out wider than your hips. Sit back on your heels so your stomach lowers between your thighs, and reach your upper body forward. Keep your torso long as you continue to press your hips back and your arms forward.
Good for opening your hips and releasing any tension in the lower back, neck and shoulders.