5 easy yoga stretches for runners
If you run regularly, you probably are familiar with the aches and pains that you get in your legs from running long distances. They can come if you have had a hard week of training or if you have had a particularly gruelling session. It is important to try minimising these aches and pains so that you can focus on your running.
You may not think about yoga and running as a strong partnership, but they really do complement each other. This is due to the amount of flexibility and strength challenges that you face as a runner. Running works the same muscles over and over again. The repetitive shortening and lengthening of the same muscles eventually can lead to overuse injuries and muscular imbalances that can impair performance.
With regular yoga stretching, you can identify weak spots and imbalances on your body. It may be that one leg is stronger than the other, or maybe you can rotate better on one side compared to the other. These are all signs that your body is out of sync, and these yoga stretches will help solve these problems.
The yoga stretches that I will share with you will help to restore balance and symmetry, which will perfectly complement your running. They will strengthen and open up many different muscles throughout your body, which will help you become a better runner.
Here are some of the benefits of these yoga stretches for runners
These yoga stretches will help you to understand your body more deeply. It builds a mental awareness that helps you to detect when your body is out of alignment so that you know that you are more likely to get injured. With this knowledge, you can make adjustments to your training to hopefully avoid these injuries. The improved alignment that you will get from these stretches will improve your running form and decrease injury risk.
The improved breathing you get from yoga has health benefits. You will achieve better oxygen supply to all your organs, and you can apply the deep breathing techniques into your running for greater relaxation and economy. There are other benefits as well, like reducing stress levels.
This is one of the strongest benefits for running as greater flexibility decreases injury risk and can help improve your running technique.
Makes you a stronger runner mentally
Yoga can improve your mental state and concentration. One of the great things about running is that it helps you clear your head. Using these yoga stretches and using some of the principles from yoga is like a double whammy for your mental state.
Easy yoga stretches for runners
- Downward dog
- Low lunge with rotation
- Half pigeon
- Seated folded
- Reclining cow face
- Reclining spinal twist
- Childs pose
Here are the 5 easy yoga stretches for runners
Low lunge with rotation
Areas targeted – Hips, hip flexor, obliques, lower back, groin, quadriceps and calves
What to do – Start in a standing position and step one leg forward into a lunge position. Make sure that your right knee is at 90 degrees when you lower yourself down. Your ankle should be directly under your knee, and your hip should be parallel to your knees. Your left leg should now be positioned so that your knee is touching the floor and the souls of your feet facing upwards. Place your left hand next to your right foot, making sure that it is inline with your left foot. Rotate your right arm so that your hand is facing the ceiling. Hold for 10 deep breaths and then change side.
Areas targeted – Hips
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Draw the right knee as close as you can towards your right wrist, then try to get your right ankle towards your left hand. You want to try your best to ensure that your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Once you have your right foot in position, try to stretch your left leg as far back as you can. The further away you can push your left foot back the greater the stretch will be in your hips. Lean your body forward and stretch your arms out as far as you can. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Switch sides when complete.
Areas targeted – hamstrings, calves, and shoulders
What to do – The start position is on your hands and knees. Ensure that your wrists are under your shoulders and that your knees are above your ankles. Spread your finger as wide as you can to increase your grip and press your palms into the floor. Spread and tuck your toes and then lift your knees from the floor until your bum is in the air. Try to keep your legs straight and push your heels down towards the floor. Hold this position for 10 deep breaths.
Reclining cow face
Area targeted – hips
What to do – Lie down on your back with both of your knees bent and crossed. Your feet should be out to the side. Hold on to your left foot with your right hand, and grab your right foot with the opposite hand. If you find it uncomfortable holding your ankles you can grab your shins instead. Hold this post for 10 deep breaths and then change legs.
Reclining spinal twist
Areas targeted – upper and lower spine as well as the glutes.
What to do – To transition from reclining cow face into this stretch lower your legs and then twist to your right side with both of your legs crossed. You must keep your opposite shoulder on the floor while you twist. Turn your head in the opposite direction that you are twisting in and extend both of your arms. Hold for 10 deep breaths and change sides.