One of the things new runners learn is that running can hurt—and not just the lung-bursting, calf-burning sensation of the first runs, but the total leg and sometimes abdominal tightness the days after. For new and veteran runners alike, the tightness can lead to some serious injuries if you don’t learn to stretch it out post-run.
Fortunately, yoga complements your runs nicely by both stretching out those tight muscles and building strength where you need it. Here are the best yoga poses for runners:
If you’ve ever taken a P.E. class ever, you’re probably familiar with the Butterfly pose. Sit tall on your mat, and put the bottoms of your feet together. Interlace your fingers around your toes and sit up straight, rolling your shoulders back and down. If you don’t feel a nice groin stretch already, either bring your feet closer in or lower your knees closer to the ground. If you need more, lean forward. With every inhale, visualize the crown of your head reach out to the wall in front of you and with every exhale, sink a little deeper and bring your chest closer to the ground.
As the name suggests, this pose is great for runners. It’ll stretch out your groin and hip flexors. Start in a lunge position with either foot back first. Press through your back heel to straighten the leg. (Don’t hesitate to let your back knee drop to the ground if you need to.) Your front knee should be over your ankle and your hands on the ground on either side of the front leg. Tuck your tailbone and raise your heart up without moving your hands. And don’t forget to breathe. Switch up your legs to get the stretch on the other side.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand up with the outer edges of your feet parallel (so you’re slightly pigeon-toed) and your feet hip’s width distance apart. With a flat back, bend over and let your fingers rest on the ground. If your hamstrings are tight, it can be hard to have straight legs; so don’t hesitate to bend your knees. The key is to make sure you’re bending from the hip, rather than rounding too much. Let your head drop and feel a nice spinal and hamstring stretch.
Diamond Pose With Toes Tucked
This one will hurt so remember to breathe. Start by sitting on your knees with your shins parallel to each other. Tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels. Rest your hands on your thighs. You will know you’re doing this right when it feels like your toes are screaming. Hold for 10 or more breaths to get a nice arch stretch.
Start in a low lunge. Then lay your front leg down so it’s parallel to the front of your mat and bring your back leg down stretch out straight behind you. Sit nice and tall and then slowly bend over your front leg—straightening on your inhales and sinking on your exhales. You’ll stretch the thighs, groin and your hips. Be sure to do the other side to stay even.
Start by sitting on your knees with the tops of your feet flat on your mat. Lay over the front of your knees, stretching your arms out. This’ll give you a nice relaxing posture with a good back stretch. You can also bring your arms behind you on either side for a shoulder stretch.
Begin in a low lunge and bring your back knee to the ground. Then, bend your back knee and reach around to grab the foot, using the same hand as leg. If you want to add a twist, use your opposite hand. Hold for several breaths, and switch sides. This’ll help loosen up those quadriceps while also building balancing strength.
No runner’s yoga practice is complete without a little ab work. Sit up straight with your knees and ankles together, your hands, palms up, by your sides. Lean back, keeping a flat back and your stomach tight, tailbone-tucked. And then lift your arms and feet off the ground and straighten your legs so your body is in a V shape. While this’ll definitely start to work your core, leaning back a little and lowering your legs a little simultaneously and then crunching back up a few times will help you get that strength your core needs for your harder runs.