Back in 2014, I picked up running and also discovered yoga. Little did I know that these two activities went hand-in-hand! As my commitment to both running and yoga grew, I wanted to know all about the best yoga poses for runners so I could incorporate them into my workouts and warm up routines.
Through research and experience, I found that it's super important to stretch before running. Yoga provides the muscles with warmth before throwing them into a heavy cardio workout. Stretching is equally as important after your run because it helps eliminate stiffness caused by lactic acid build up.
To enhance your performance and recovery time, try out these beginner yoga poses for runners that can be used for both your warm up and cool down stretches.
Hero Pose and Toe Squats
You should never forget the feet before or after your run. Even though you use them the most, they tend to be the least stretched. Stretching the toes and feet prevents injuries like plantar fasciitis and creates more comfortable running conditions.
Heroes Pose, in particular, elevates and helps prevent shin splints caused by running. Toe Squats are also an excellent counter pose, which opens the toes and feet, strengthens the ankles, and helps with plantar fasciitis.
Downward Facing Dog
This particular pose really works the legs. Downward Facing Dog stretches the hamstrings and calves while also creating length in the spine. This pose is a great all-arounder and should be done before and after your run.
Upward Facing Dog
As you press into the earth and lift into Upward Facing Dog, you’ll open the hip flexors and stretch the entire front of the body. This pose also opens the chest and shoulders, which helps expand our breathing and lung capacity.
This can be done standing or seated as well. If you choose to do the seated version, you can use props like a strap or towel to fold yourself further into the pose. This will provide an excellent stretch to your IT band, as well as your hamstrings, calves and lower back.
Bound Angle Pose
This is a very simple hip opener. In a seated position, place the feet together and try pushing your knees as close to the ground as possible. Be sure to respect your limit! For a deeper stretch, you can hinge forward at the waist and place your hands on the floor. Or, push your hips open by pressing lightly on your knees.
I have a love/hate relationship with this pose, but I can’t deny that it’s beyond beneficial. A Low Lunge, which can be done kneeling or standing, stretches the hip flexors, inner thighs, calves and Achilles tendons. If doing this pose standing, it also strengthens the glutes and legs. From a kneeling Low Lunge, you can easily transition to Lizard by moving your front foot to the edge of your mat and placing your hands in front of you. For a deeper stretch, you can move down to your forearms. This pose offers a deep hip opening stretch, while also strengthening the inner thighs and stretching the quads.
When running for long periods, you put pressure on our joints and back, which naturally and inevitably makes our body tired. Incorporating a twisting pose like a Supine Twist, especially after a run, can help stretch the spinal muscles, obliques and glutes.
You can’t forget about your upper body! While your legs do most of the work while running, your arms and shoulders move alongside our body as you make strides. Have you ever experienced that ping in your shoulder mid-run? To stretch out your shoulders, neck and back, try incorporating Eagle Arms into your post run yoga routine.
These yoga positions for runners will not only help during your warm ups and cool downs, but will also create a solid foundation for your own yoga practice. Who knows, by trying out these poses, you may even develop an at home yoga routine!
About the Author
Laura Bender has been practicing yoga since 2014. Her own practice has helped her grow stronger and more flexible, while teaching her the lessons of mindfulness and gratitude. As a yoga instructor, her students inspire her to shine from the heart and be open to her most authentic self. You can learn more about Laura on her website, LB Yogi, and Facebook page.