3 Best Yoga Poses for Runners By Karen Sherwood

Wednesday Workout – Flexibility

11.28.2012
Flexibility is important for all athletes, to improve performance you must first improve flexibility.

Improving flexibility is especially important for triathletes focusing on 3 sports.  You need to work on increasing flexibility in your shoulders, arms, core, and legs.  Increasing flexibility will help you to improve power, strength, and endurance while swimming, biking, and running.  Read the article below on some yoga stretches that will be especailly beneficial to your running.

3 Best Yoga Poses for Runners

By Karen Sherwood • For Active.com

What makes yoga and running the perfect combination? They both benefit the body in completely different ways; they’re the yin and yang of exercise. The cardiovascular benefits of running are unmatched, while the centering and sometimes vigorous practice of yoga not only strengthens and sculpts the muscles, but also brings the mind to a sweet, comfortable place, keeping that “runner’s high” going all day long. 

As the feet pound the pavement, running compacts and contracts the muscles, setting the stage for tight muscles, pain and even injury.

Runners, don’t fret—just a wee bit of yoga is perfect for lengthening tight muscles. Many articles for runners address the ever-popular hip openers and knee strengtheners (which are very important), but tend to neglect some other crucial areas affected by avid running. Yes, you can still do your “runner’s stretch,” but follow it up with these three poses to loosen and strengthen the other important muscles.

Quad Stretch

As a runner, this is one of my least favorite poses. It’s just plain uncomfortable. However, we yogis believe that the most uncomfortable poses are often the most needed. The good news: The more often you do a pose you hate, the easier it gets. Additionally, quad stretches can help prevent a slew of injuries associated with running.

  • Come to the floor on both knees.
  • Step one leg out in front of you and come forward enough so you’re not resting on top of the knee.
  • Reach behind you to grab the foot of the resting leg, using the same hand as leg.  
  • For an added “twist,” you can try a twisting quad stretch by reaching behind with the opposite hand.  
  • Another fantastic option is to try this against the wall. Come on your knees as close to the wall as you can. Creep forward on one foot to come into a lunge while keeping the back of the shin against the wall. Remember to come forward enough so your weight isn’t directly on top of the knee. Take 5 to 8 deep breaths.

Fallen Warrior

Now that you’ve opened up the quads a bit, it’s time for the most delicious, but often forgotten, IT band stretch. Fallen warrior is simply Trikonasana (triangle pose) on the floor.

  • Begin in triangle pose, and take a few breaths for the inner thigh.
  • Square the hips over the front foot and slowly bring the pose to the ground.
  • If your right leg is forward, sit so that your right leg is now straight across your yoga mat with the left leg behind me.  
  • Most runners will be very tight in this pose, so the back leg will mostly likely not be straight behind you, and that’s OK, but try to keep the front leg as straight as possible.
  • Stay here for five long, deep breaths.
  • You can also use the hands to press up a few inches and come to the balls of the back foot to play with your hip rotation and explore the varying degrees of the pose.

Hamstring Sequence

Time to tackle the inner and outer hamstrings as well as the gluteus maximus. Lie on your back with a strap, or stand up if you’re feeling energetic.

  • Begin by bending the left leg (foot on the floor) while you extend the right leg up to the sky.
  • Wrap the strap around your right foot and gently pull it towards you, keeping the tailbone pressing down into your mat. The right leg can be slightly bent.
  • Continue the stretch by letting the leg fall open to the right side and take five deep breaths.
  • Be careful not to let the left sit bone float up.
  • You can even place your left hand on the pelvis to keep it steady.
  • Guide the right leg back to center and gently bring the stretch to the opposite side (left).
  • Take five long, deep breaths.
  • Bring the leg back to center and pull it towards you for the grand finale. Bend the knee to come down and begin the other side.

Keep in mind that in all poses, a nice, balanced joint space is far more important than achieving a particular range of motion, so always look to achieve sensation, not pain.

 
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One response to “3 Best Yoga Poses for Runners By Karen Sherwood

  1. Great post, I emailed it to a friend as well! I have been debating yoga for awhile, probably time to bite the bullet. Just not ready for the stretchy pants and the commitment to one of those special mats. 🙂

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