Effective Yoga Poses for Runners

Gain Added Strength and Flexibility with These 5 Poses

For many runners, practicing yoga is a no-brainer. Where else can you find a fitness plan that adds power and stamina, reduces excessive tightness in the hips and legs, and helps you develop body awareness.

Running is a repetitive exercise that uses a small range of motion in the hips and legs. Over time if you don't stretch properly after your runs, there is a good chance you will continually tighten up your lower body muscles and joints. 

An easy way to initiate stretching yoga poses into your running program is to do each of the five poses listed below for 30-45 seconds after your runs. After a small number of yoga movements, you will notice a big improvement in your flexibility. These poses can also help to relieve common lower back pain.

A number of studies have shown that stretching too much before your runs can have a negative effect.

Yoga Poses for Runners

Extended Side Angle

Pose Instructions:

  • Start with your feet spread apart as pictured and your right foot turned at a 90-degree angle. 

  • Bend your right knee so that is positioned directly above your right ankle and foot. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling in a straight line with the left side of your body and drop your right hand outside your right foot.

  • Turn your head toward your left shoulder and hold the pose for a count of 5, switch sides and repeat.

extended side angle yoga poseTaylor Demonstrating the Extended Side Angle Pose.

Downward Facing Dog

The most common problems for runners are knee and foot issues. The downward dog opens up the hip joints and leg muscles.

Pose Instructions:

  • Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

  • Press firmly into your hands and lift your knees off the floor. Raise your hips straight up toward the ceiling until your body is positioned like an inverted "V".

  • With your eyes focused on your feet, try and press your heels toward the floor.

downward facing dog poseTaylor Demonstrating the Downward Facing Dog Pose

Crescent Lunge

The crescent is a spine twisting and deep hip flexor stretching pose. This pose lengthens the spine and mobilizes the lower back.

Posture Instructions:

  • Start in a mountain pose with your feet together and lunge forward with your right leg. Your right knee should be directly above your right ankle and your right thigh parallel with the floor.

  • Bring your hands together at your heart in a prayer position and twist your torso to the right and place your left upper arm on the outside of your right knee/thigh.

  • Inhale, and try and lengthen your spine as you twist deeper. Hold the pose and then repeat on the other side.

crescent lunge poseTaylor Demonstrating the Crescent Lunge

Pigeon Pose

The seated Pigeon is one of the most effective hip stretching yoga poses for runners. Take your time with this pose and really feel your joints opening up.

Posture Instructions:

  • Enter pigeon either from downward dog or high plank. For the right side, bring your right knee into a 45-degree angle to meet your right wrist. Keep your left leg extended straight on your mat. 

  • Lower your hips to the floor and square them off to the front. Look behind yourself towards your left leg to make sure it is straight behind you. 

  • When you feel settled in the pose, slowly lower your chest to the floor only going as far as you are comfortable. Extend your arms straight ahead and surrender to the floor. 

pigeon poseTaylor Demonstrating the Pigeon Pose

Upward Facing Dog

Runners typically have strong legs and weak upper bodies. The upward dog works your arms and shoulders.

Posture Instructions:

  • Lay face down on your mat and extend your legs straight back with the tops of your feet on the floor. Have your elbows bent with your palms on either side at your waist with your palms facing down. 

  • Lying still, bring your shoulders up toward your ears and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

  • Press down with your hands, straighten your arms and bring your torso and legs off the floor. All of your weight should be on your hands and toes.

  • Try and slide your hands back towards your hips a little and draw your shoulders back to open your chest. Hold the pose and then release back to the floor.

upward facing dog poseTaylor Demonstrating the Upward Facing Dog Pose

Tips on Yoga Poses for Runners

  • Each pose should be done slowly without any force. By overstretching you can cause the muscles to tighten and increase your risk of injury.

  • Yoga is ideal for post-running. Studies have shown that stretching before running does not prevent injury or improve performance. Muscles that are warmed up are far easier to stretch.

Yoga Poses for Runners

At any given time, half of the runners out there have an injury. Many of these injuries are caused by restricted mobility and flexibility. Yoga takes the body through a very wide range of motion to lengthen and strengthen the muscles and joints.

Yoga also teaches you to pay attention and use proper breathing with your movements for better efficiency. Proper breathing can slow the heart rate for a better distribution of blood and oxygen through the body.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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