Anyone who runs knows that it can cause tightness and soreness in the lower body. If you don't take time to stretch out your muscles pre- and post-run, it can cause ongoing tension and pain, which can make you more prone to injury. Running can also cause inflammation in the body, so it's important to balance out your running schedule with rest and restoration as well. Performing a gentle yoga flow can help release your muscle tension and calm your body in between runs.
This simple yoga flow for runners can help release tightness in all of the key areas for runners–hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and hips, which can help to ease soreness and prevent injury.
Hold each of these poses for five deep breaths, and make sure to perform the flow on both sides.
Downward dog is a fantastic pose for opening up the back of the legs. This pose can help you lengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Staying flexible in these areas will minimize tension in your legs and reduce your risk of injury.
How to: Starting on all fours, place your hands shoulder-distance and hip-width apart. Activate your arms and draw your sitz bones up and back. Press your heels firmly toward the ground, and lengthen your legs. Feel your lower back straighten. Relax your head and neck, and gaze toward your feet.
This pose provides a luxurious stretch for your hip flexors, which are often overlooked while stretching. Tight hip flexors can contribute to lower back pain, so it's important to give them attention.
How to: From downward-facing dog, step your right foot between your hands with your knee aligned over the ankle at 90 degrees. Keeping your hips square, bend your back leg to gently lower your knee onto the ground. Keep your shoulders aligned over your hips as you sweep your arms up to the sky and rest them on your front knee.
Runner's Lunge Variation
This pose will add a deep quadriceps stretch to your runner's lunge. Your quads tend to be one of the tightest areas post-run. This is also a gentle twist, which will help to stimulate your digestion.
How to: From runner's lunge, reach back and grab your back leg with the opposite arm. Bend deeper into the pose. If you can't reach your foot, try using a strap!
Standing Single-Leg Forward Bend
This pose digs deep into the hamstrings, an area that tends to be very tight in all people, especially runners. If left unstretched, tight hamstrings can also contribute to misalignment and back pain.
How to: From runner's lunge, lean back onto your back leg and straighten it to stand up. Straighten your front leg and reach down, placing your hands on either side of your front foot. Make sure to keep your hips pointing straight forward and your chest lifted. Blocks can help you get into this pose if you can't reach the floor.
Pigeon pose provides a deep stretch for your hips, which in turn helps relieve back pain and sciatica. Pigeon pose also provides an emotional release, which can be nice if you've been really pushing yourself toward a goal or race.
How to: From standing single-leg forward fold, gently lower to the ground. Bend your right knee and place it in line with your right hand, ankle at left. Your shin should be parallel with the front of your mat. Extend your left leg back, and rest your knee and top of foot on the ground. Square your hips and fold forward, resting your forehead on your hands.
There you have it—a simple yet effective flow for runners of all levels (and honestly, for all active people!). Once you've given this flow a go, check out these yoga poses for better sex or my 15-minute yoga flow for reducing stress and anxiety.
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