We have all felt discomfort in the knee or hip joints after a run. Whether you run 1 mile or 20 Miles, it is equally important to stretch out your body after running. Try these yoga poses for runners.
Ensure you leave enough time to do these after your next run. Each pose is designed to be held for 5-10 elongated breaths. Avoid pulling into these poses, rather find the point that is comfortable to hold and breathe deeply allowing the muscle to release. Trying to pull into a stretch where the muscle is tight will only cause the muscle to tighten further. Your best friend is each inhale and exhale. Focus on softening and releasing.
Low lunge, Anjaneyasana in Sanskrit, stretches the hips, thighs, and abdomen.
From Downward Dog Pose, step the left foot between the hands, ensuring the knee is over the ankle. Lower the right knee and inhale to raise the torso using the hands against the knee for support. If this feels comfortable, inhale the hands to reach skyward bringing the arms beside the ears and palms facing each other.
After 5 elongated breaths, plant the palms and return to downward dog pose and repeat on the other side.
Ensure you are kneeling on a soft surface to protect the knee joint. Either a mat or blanket will suffice.
Avoid kneeling straight on the knee cap. Reach the back leg behind you to rest on the section of the leg just above the knee cap.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine as it is excellent for lengthening the Psoas muscle and entire front side of the body.
Half Monkey Pose, Ardha Hanumanasana in Sanskrit, deeply stretches the hamstrings and lower back.
I like to move into this pose from low lunge (above). it might be nice to sequence low lunge, half Monkey then Lizard (see below), all on one leg before repeating on the opposite side.
From low lunge, push the hips back over the back knee and peel the sole of the front foot off the mat bringing the toes back towards the face.
Inhale to lengthen the spine, then exhale to bring the chest over the front leg. This is a very deep hamstring stretch, place the hands on the fingertips or on blocks if this feels nicer.
Only come into this pose as much as feels right for your body, hold for 5 long breaths before releasing. Always repeat poses on both sides of the body to maintain eveness and alignment in the body.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine to help release tight hamstrings and decompress the lower back after pounding the pavement.
Lizard Pose, Uthan Pristhasana in Sanskrit, further stretches the hips, hamstrings and thighs.
As suggested above, sequence this pose following Low Lunge, Half Monkey and then move forward into Lizard.
From Half Monkey, move the weight over the front foot keeping the knee over the ankle. Bring both hands to the inside of the front foot and edge the front foot to the side of the mat to open the hips and allow the arms to rest directly under the shoulders.
Inhale to lengthen the spine and either stay up on the hands or if comfortable, lower down onto the elbows for a deeper stretch into the hips. It may also feel nice to tuck the toes and lift the back knee.
After completing Low Lunge, Half Monkey and Lizard pose with the left foot forward, repeat the sequence with the right foot forward.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine as it is essential for opening up the hips and thighs after a run.
One Legged King Pigeon with Forward Fold. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II in Sanskrit, deeply stretches the thighs, groin and lower back. I find it softens the IT band as well, which can get very tight in runners.
From Downward Dog Pose, bring the left knee to the left wrist. Open up the hips and lower them down gently, taking the right leg back.
Flex the left foot to protect the knee and ensure the hips are square to the front of your mat. This may require you to only lower onto a block or pillow.
Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to walk the hands forward creating a little pillow for the forehead to rest on. To deepen the pose, edge the left shin forward to bring it parallel to the front of the mat.
Remain here for 10 long breaths, focusing on each inhale and exhale and allowing the breath to soften the hips. To finish, raise the torso, plant the palms, tuck the back toes and lift into Downward Dog (or Table Top pose). Repeat on the opposite side.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine as it is essential in softening the entire lower back and hip region. If it is too deep a stretch, stay up on the hands rather than folding forward. Or you can try Figure Four Pose lying on your back for a similar stretch and benefits.
Shoe Lace pose deeply stretches the hips and knees. It also stretches the thighs, ankles, shoulders and back, whilst improving mobility in the hips.
Begin by kneeling on the feet, shift the hips to the right side of the feet. Bring the left leg over the top of the right to stack the knees. Ensure the sit bones stay on the mat. Either stay up on the fingertips lifting out of the lower back. Or walk the hands forward and rest the chest on the legs.
Ensure you do this pose on both sides to keep the body even. Remain in the pose for 5 long breaths, allowing the hips to soften and open. If you like, edge the feet forward to bring the shins parallel. Keep the feet flexed to protect the knee joint. Only come down as far as is comfortable for you.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine for enhanced hip mobility and a deep release of the thigh and gluteal muscles.
King Pigeon in Low Lunge
King Pigeon in Low Lunge, or, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Sanskrit, stretches the thighs, hips and abdomen. It also improves balance and can be done in varying modifications for all levels.
From Downward Facing Dog Pose, step the left foot between the palms, lower the right knee down and inhale up into low lunge. Ensure the weight is not on the kneecap, shift the right knee back so there is a deeper stretch into the groin and you are protecting the patella. Inhale to bend the right knee and reach back to hold the right foot with the right hand.
Other options include rotating to the left and taking hold of the foot with the left hand or reaching both hands over head and moving into a back bend holding the right foot.
It may be nice to sequence this in with the first few poses listed here: Low Lunge, Half Monkey, Lizard and then King Pigeon in Low Lunge. Ensure to repeat on the opposite side.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine, as I truly believe this is one of the most important stretches that runners should be doing after exercise. The quadriceps get very tight when running and can pull on the kneecap, use this pose to soften and lengthen them and to decrease the chance of knee pain.
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold, Prasarita Padottanasana in Sanskrit, is vital to stretch the hamstrings, groins, hips and lower back. This pose allows the entire back of the legs to open.
Begin standing with the feet quite far apart. Take your arms straight out to the side, and the feet should align with the wrists. Turn the toes in slightly and ground down into the outside edges of the feet. Inhale to lengthen the spine and bring the hands to the hips. Exhale to hinge forward at the hips and bring the palms to the ankles or shins. Take the elbows out to the side to create resistance and gently pull the chest between the thighs.
The hands may also be brought to the mat or floor and walked beneath the body so the heels of the wrists and the heels of the feet align. If choosing this option, hug the elbows together rather than allowing them to splay sideways.
Hold for 5 elongated breaths. Inhale deeply then exhale to walk the hands over to the right ankle, bringing the chest towards the right thigh. Hold on this side for 5 long breaths. Then inhale deeply, exhale to walk the hands over to the left ankle and repeat the 5 deep breaths on this side. Return to standing using an inhale, hands on hips, and softening of the knees. It may feel nice to shake the legs out after this pose.
If you cannot reach the mat or your ankles: to protect the lower back, rest hands on a block or chair. Ensure the back is flat. Avoid rounding the spine.
Whilst in the pose, investigate how the stretch changes when you bring the weight into the balls of the feet or the heels.
Add this to your yoga poses for runners routine to open up tight hamstrings and release the lower back. By adding the stretch holding each ankle, the pose allows all the different hamstrings to soften and lengthen.
I hope you have benefited from these poses. What are your favorite poses to do after a run? How have they benefited you?
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