8 Yoga Poses for Runners
If you’re a runner and think you can’t do yoga because you’re just not that flexible, think again. The reality is: even the least flexible person can benefit from yoga, because it does just that - increases flexibility. You’ll be amazed at how the body responds to a regular yoga practice. Yoga is the perfect compliment to running. Why? Because it…
Increases flexibility while stretching the muscles that are tight
Increases the range of motion in joints that are often stiff and achy after a long run
Provides greater ease of movement
Increases strength and stability in muscles like ankles and knees
Improves posture while running
Convinced yet? Here are some wonderful yoga moves that will help you strengthen and stretch the muscles you use over and over again when running.
1. Quadriceps Opener:
QUAD STRETCH: Lying facedown on the floor – bend one leg and grab the ankle - gently pulling the leg back and up – try touching your foot to your gluts. Switch sides. This can also be done standing. Just be cautious if you have any knee problems.
2. Hip Opener:
UPSIDE DOWN PIGEON POSE: Lying face up on the floor, lift the legs to knee height off the floor, bring the right ankle to the left quadriceps – aiming for a spot on the leg midway between knee and groin. Pull left knee in towards body, push right knee away gently until you feel a deep stretch in the hip and glute. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
3. Hamstring Opener:
FORWARD FOLD: While standing and with resting heart rate, hinge at the hips folding forward. Grab onto elbows, or for more intensity, grab ankles. With fluid breathing, sink a little further on each exhale, letting the crown of the head move towards the floor and relaxing the head and neck as much as possible. Take 10 deep breaths. This pose is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or if heart rate is higher than resting.
4. Side Opener:
LATERAL FLEXION: it is common to have tight latisimus dorsi (Lats). This stretch enables us to open the sides of our bodies. While standing, bring both arms overhead. Bring your right arm down, resting the hand on the hip. Inhale deeply, lifting out of the lower back. Exhale and sink the left arm overhead until you feel a deep stretch up the left side of the body. Keep the glutes tight and the lower body moving forward as the upper body continues to lift and sink. Take 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.
5. Hip Flexor Opener:
BUTTERFLY POSE: Tight Psoas muscles are common to runners. This pose will open up tight muscles. Start seated with the soles of the feet together. Gently place hands on the ankles and use elbows to press thighs and knees towards the floor. Breathe and visualize the hip flexors softening. Take 10 deep breaths here.
6. Hip Flexor, Intercostals and Anti Aging opening from too much forward flexion pose:
CAMEL POSE: On knees, reach hands back to sitting muscles (gluteus). Squeeze tight and press forward. Lift chest and experience an incredible anti-aging backbend. Release after 5 deep breaths into a forward fold Childs pose.
7. Low Back Release:
SPINAL TWIST: Lying on back, extend limbs away from the body. Bring right knee into chest and draw across left side of the body. Place left hand on right thigh. Allow for lower back release. Keep hips square and draw knee towards floor. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Switch sides.
8. Back Strengthening Pose:
SUPERMAN POSE: Lying face down, lift arms and legs off floor, hold for five breaths and repeat 5 times. This back strengthening pose creates good posture and improves back muscles - very important for runners.
Grab a copy of Beth Shaw's brand new book The YogaFit Athlete for even more insights on how to use yoga to up your performance in sport and in life.