Yoga For Runners

Yoga believe it or not is one of best things a runner can do for their bodies after a run, it’s so good for runners that I for one do it religiously after every run and here’s why.

Running is very taxing on the body and our muscles, in particular, the hamstrings, calves and hip flexors as well as our stabilising muscles. The iliotibial (IT Band) your glutes, transversus abdominus (your deep abdominals) and your big toe..yes your big toe is a stabilising muscle, and all of these muscles take the brunt of the impact from our constant pavement pounding.

Yoga isn’t for you, you say or you don’t have time?

Most runners actually do some kind of yoga and they don’t even know it.
Most of the deep stretches us runners do after our runs actually originate from yoga and as it only needs to take 5 – 10 minutes after your run to reap the benefits that yoga brings. I won’t mention here the benefits of stretching as I’m sure we all do those after every run!!

Here are the top yoga stretches for runners.

Downward Dog
The ultimate of yoga stretches – Downward Dog is a great all over body stretch.
This pose lengthens and strengthens from the tips of your toes all the way to the top of your head.
In particular, Downward Dog is good for giving the calves a proper good stretch as well as lengthening the feet and opening the hips and shoulders.
If you can’t get your feet flat on the ground don’t worry, get into position as comfortable as you can, relax and alternating each foot, move the toes up and down, slightly bending the knees, nice and slowly to feel the pull.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


Upward Dog 

Most runners tend to neglect there upper body, so although runners have super strong legs, the core and upper body tend to be the weakest link. If you ever wake up with sore and achy arms, shoulders and back it’s more than likely a little DOMS going on.

Adding the Upward Dog into your post-run routine will not only help you stretch out but will help strengthen the core, shoulders, and arms.

You want to start in the cobra pose then use push up with your upper body with your hands flat on the floor to lift your entire body off the ground apart from the tops off your feet, keep your core strong, back arched and look up to the sky stretching the neck, but it keep it controlled.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


Particularly good after a long run, as the longer, we’re on our feet running the more forward hunching we tend to do. Bridge pose will really open the help stretch out your upper body and back but also help grow the core muscles.
Keep your body in a straight line and lift your hips upwards towards the sky, keeping the core engaged.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


This is one all runners should do to help loosen and lengthen the glutes and release tight hips, lots of runners find the Triangle difficult at first so take it steady and slow, and the more you practice the easier it will become.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


Pigeon Pose

This is one of my favourite poses and great for anyone with sciatica or problematic piriformis and other buttock and hip issues, this pose can really get in there and give everything a good stretch out and open up the hips.

Start by getting in the start position of the knee forward bend pose and bring the straight leg straight out behind you keeping the thigh on the floor and press the top of your foot into the ground, with the bent leg push the buttock into the floor and place your arms in front of you, fold your body forward, some people are happy with just leaning forward a little by placing their hands in front of them, but for a firmer stretch try leaning lower so your resting on your elbows and for an even more intense stretch fold your whole body to the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)

Low Lunge/Lizard
Lizard pose or known as low lunges in the running world is great for stretching both the front and back of the legs, opening up the hips as well as getting the core working as it stabilises your whole body, making this a great pose for improving your balance. To get the best out of the Lizard place your arms straight down beside your body and touch the floor.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


Bound Angle Pose aka Cobbler
The Bound Angle can be done sat up straight or laying on your back, both effective at relieving tightness in the groin and opening up the hips. Ensure the soles of your feet at flat against each other and let the knees open and flop naturally, don’t force the knees to the ground just give them a little gentle persuasion.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)


Seated Spinal Twist
When we run it’s a repetitive motion of going forward and back and not much else so our bodies can get stiff, particularly our upper bodies, shoulders and back
Doing the Seated Spinal twist will give the back, shoulders, arms, and hips a really good stretch out and loosen up any tight spots, including releasing any tension in the neck
Place one leg out straight in front of you and place the other leg over the keeping the knee pointing up and the foot flat to the floor. Reach your opposite arm over the leg and place the hand on the outside of the thigh and push against it, for a deeper stretch position the hand near the knee.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)

Awkward Pose
As the name suggests, doing the Awkward pose made take a little practice to master but not only does this pose improve your balance it also helps strengthen and stabilise the weak ankles, strengthen up the feet as well as legs, hips and the core.
Hold the pose for 7 to 10 breaths (inhale and exhale slow x 10)

As with all stretches, it shouldn’t be painful so stop is you feel any pain and discomfort and remember practice makes perfect.

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  1. I’ve just started a class, enjoyed it but showed just how inflexible I am! Can’t even sit cross legged without my knees almost under my ears! Hopefully that’ll improve.

  2. Totally agree with this. Though you do have to find the right class and the right instructor for you as they are all different.
    As for the Awkward Pose – never heard it called that before but it’s definitely awkward but my foot can now cope with all of these!

  3. Never tried yoga, keep telling myself to give it ago as I’m as stiff as a ironing board, just have this fear of getting the giggles through embbarisment.

  4. A really good article Vicky and interesting to see which stretches help different problem areas – must try and incorporate some of these in my post run stretches (which I’m afraid to say have been neglected recently!)