For those of you that enjoy running, you know the importance of stretching and keeping your muscles limber.
Admittedly, even though I know the importance of stretching, I am not one that really dives into stretching before and after any exercise.
Consistently doing yoga will help improve your running. You need to keep all the muscles in your legs as flexible as possible to not only make you a better runner but to help prevent as many soft tissue injuries as possible (i.e. muscles pulls or muscle strains).
Some yoga poses aren’t going to benefit a runner’s body as well as other poses. You need to perform poses that will specifically target the areas and muscles that are used most during running.
Below are yoga poses that will target these areas. Do these after a run to keep your legs loose and improve your flexibility so that your next run is just as good as the last one:
Remember, these poses are going to help you as a runner by stretching the muscles that are used most while you run.
Flexibility is important when it comes to any type of exercise, so yoga should be looked at as a necessity on all fitness journeys.
1. Downward Dog
This pose will stretch the top of your glutes all the down through your achilles.
To get the most out of this pose, you have to keep your heels on the ground. Doing this really gives you that full stretch in your calves and achilles.
If these muscles aren’t flexible, just pushing off the ground to get started on a run is more difficult. If you can’t even have a proper start to a run, how can you expect to have a decent run for any amount of distance?
From the downward dog, the cobra pose is almost a seamless transition. You can go straight from one to the other.
This is great for your lower back and hip flexors. If you’ve ever had back pain, you know that running seems to be almost impossible. The struggle is definitely real.
The same goes for your hip flexors. If you can’t lift your hip flexors, you won’t be able to have the same running motion as you normally do.
When you are used to running a certain way your entire life, then you have to change it up because you are in pain due to a lack of flexibility, it sucks. No pain, no gain is a common saying when it comes to working out, but in the case of running, no pain leads to more successful runs.
3. Low Lunge with Twist
A low lunge by itself is great for your hip flexors and helps you keep a full range of motion for when you are at full stride while running.
Adding the twist will open up your back and stretch it.This helps keep lower back pain to a minimum.
Running can put a lot of pressure on your lower back and when you don’t relieve that tension every once in a while, it will creep up on you and cause you pain when you least expect it.
4. High Lunge
A high lunge is slightly different from a low lunge. A low lunge allows you to get very deep into the stretch and cause your hip flexors to be more flexible.
Although a high lunge may seem like it is doing the same exact thing, it is giving you other benefits that the low lunge doesn’t.
With the high lunge, you are stretching your hip flexors, just not as much as you would with a low lunge. You are also strengthening your hamstrings and quads.
High lunges require a lot of stability and balance. When you have weak quads and hamstrings, this could be slightly difficult. By doing this pose, you are gaining strength in areas that will not only help you with any yoga but also with your running.
5. Side Angle Pose
The side angle pose will open up your groin since it plays a major role in your ability to run. If you’ve ever had a groin injury, you’ll know that you can’t run at all. You may not feel as though you are using your groin much when you are running, but it does a lot more work than you think.
Having a flexible groin allows your legs to have more range of motion. You’ll be able to do quick cuts and sprints if necessary during any run. Being able to move your leg in all directions is a big advantage when you are running.
6. Triangle Pose
You’ll get a stretch in your hamstring, groin, and hip flexors.
When you properly do this pose, you aren’t going to have to sink into it as far you think. You’ll get all of the benefits of this pose in a hurry.
7. Forward Fold
This may be the easiest of the poses. You are getting a good stretch in your hamstrings and lower back. The closer you can get your torso to your knees while keeping your back long and your knees straight, the better stretch you will get.
8. Thread the Needle
When you thread the needle, you may be able to get the best stretch for your lower back and glutes. You can really feel the pull of the muscles when you do this pose.
This pose will put you in a state of relaxation too. It feels so relieving when you do it. The thread the needle pose is a surprising way to relax and stretch.
9. Half Splits
That’s right, only half splits. You aren’t expected to do a full split anytime soon. If you can get the full split, though, by all means, go for it.
The half split is a great stretch for your hamstrings. The deeper you can sink into this stretch, the faster you’ll be able to increase the flexibility of this area.
When it comes to running, hamstrings may be one of the most important muscles to keep flexible. They can get tight very easily and when they are pushed to their limits, injuries can happen quite frequently.
10. Half Pigeon
Like the thread the needle pose, the half pigeon is a very relaxing pose. If you aren’t very flexible, it could be slightly difficult to sink into.
Once you are able to fully sink into the stretch, you will feel as though you can sit in this pose all day. Your glutes and hip flexors will thank you a good bit as well.
The best part about these poses is that they can be done almost anywhere. If you happen to be running outside, all you need is a patch of grass and a little bit of space.
I recommend you do all of the poses listed after a run on both sides. You don’t have to do every single pose, but the more you do, the more you’ll be improving yourself as a runner.