There is a lot of benefit that you can gain from doing yoga stretches for runners. Practicing yoga can stretch and strengthen muscles, and it can help you “find your balance,” literally and figuratively.
Whether you realize it or not it can also protect you against the nagging overuse injuries that so many runners experience.
These are the best yoga stretches for runners. Remember to only stretch as far as you can reasonably go. If you feel any pain, stop immediately. Do what you can.
1. Downward Dog
This pose lengthens, strengthens and opens the hips, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings. It also opens the arms and the upper back.
The benefit of this pose is that it can combat shin splints, knee issues, foot problems, and IT-band syndromes.
Start out on your hands and knees with your knees about hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight back. Walk your hands forward until you can rest your forehead on the yoga mat.
Spread your fingers wide and press your hands into the mat to get a good grip and to support your body weight.
Tuck your toes and lift your hips all the way up, keeping your abs tight, and at the same time, drop your chest back toward your thighs.
Keep your knees slightly bent. Straighten your arms and rotate your arms ever so slightly outward, just until you feel the stretch in your upper back.
For a deeper stretch, lift your hip bones toward the ceiling and press your heels into the ground.
2. Upward Dog
Most runners neglect their upper bodies – their core and their arms – and these yoga stretches for runners are ideal for giving strength to these trouble spots.
From Downward Dog, move into a plank position, then lower your chest halfway to the ground as if you’re getting ready to do a low push-up. Roll over your toes until the tops of your feet are flush to the mat. Arch your chest upward into a back bend.
3. Forward Fold
This pose stretches your hamstrings and calves. Pulling up on your toes stretches the arches of your feet and the IT band, which is always tight in runners (it’s the band of connective tissue that runs from the hip to the outer knee).
Forward Fold can be done either sitting or standing. While sitting, hinge at the waist and reach as far as possible in front of you with your arms before you start to fold. With Standing Forward Fold, it you can’t touch your toes, bend your knees slightly, or stand with your feet slightly wider apart.
You can also put your palms on your calves instead of on your feet.
4.Cobbler (a/k/a Bound Angle)
For this pose, sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together and your heels tucked as close to your pelvis as you can manage.
Your knees should be wide apart, which opens the lower back, your hips and your inner thighs. Don’t force your knees down toward the mat – let them fall naturally.
If you find that your pelvis is too tight to perform this asana (pose) comfortably, then sit on a yoga block or on a blanket.
5. Reclining Pigeon
Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right quadricep, then gently pull both legs toward you to stretch your glutes and hamstrings.
Make sure you repeat this with the other leg.
Again, lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your body in a straight line with your core muscles fully engaged.
This pose opens the shoulders and the front of the body, and it also strengthens the core.
If you want a more intense yoga stretches for runners, clasp your hands under your pelvis and roll your shoulder blades toward each other.
7. Seated Spinal Twist
This post will loosen and lengthen your spine, and it’s great for easing stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Cross one leg over the other, knee pointed at the ceiling and your sole on the ground. Reach your opposite arm across your body and push it against the outside of your thigh, near the knee.
8. Low Lunge
Lunges are incredibly useful for the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. They also help you improve your balance, and they keep the whole body activated.
The lunge, especially the very deep variety that’s known as Lizard Pose, stretches the front and back of the legs, opens the hips and strengthens the core.If you want an even deeper stretch, then lower yourself down onto your elbows to go into Lizard Pose.
This pose is all about balance.
Standing on one leg, bring your other foot up to rest against the inside of your active thigh.
Balancing on one leg helps to strengthen that leg and improves your balance, which will make you far less likely to twist an ankle or fall while you’re running on uneven terrain.
To make this yoga stretches for runners harder, close your eyes.
The Triangle Pose of good for your hips and glutes.
Stand like a five-pointed star with your feet about five feet apart. Turn your right foot out ninety degrees, then pivot your left foot slightly inward (about 45 degrees).
Make sure to center your right knee so that it’s aligned with the center of your right ankle.
Raise your arms to shoulder height, then tilt your pelvis toward the wall behind you. Fold at the right hip. Keep your right ear, your shoulders and your knee on the same plane.
Turn your left palm forward while your right hand rests on your ankle – or the floor, or a yoga block. Your left shoulder should be vertically aligned with the right shoulder.
Turn your head to look up at the thumb you’re holding up. Make sure you repeat this pose on the other side, too.