10 Best Yoga Poses for Runners: Essential Stretches for Pre and Post Running

Geoffrey Lions
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Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Seated forward bend is a great warm-up stretch. It opens up the hamstrings, groins, and hips and helps you gain more flexibility. It is also a great stress reliever. It has been known to help depression.

How to:

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor
  • Interlock your fingers
  • Place your hands behind your hips
  • Lean forward and hold for a few seconds.
  • If you want, you can lean forward further, placing a chair or wall for support.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Instructions:

Start the pose by lying on your back. Now place the arms on the floor alongside the hips.

Press the hips up towards the ceiling while lifting the buttocks closer to the floor.

Hold the pose for a few seconds and then release.

Benefits

Bridge pose is one of the better yoga poses for runners. Bridge stimulates the abdominal organs and helps in overall back health. When you perform the bridge pose regularly, it strengthens your back muscles, hips, legs, and stretches the spine. Regularly doing the bridge pose also relieves chronic back pain and takes the pressure off the lower back.

Coordinated with the bridge pose is the shoulder stand. Start by lying flat on your back. Raise your legs straight upwards and hold in that position. Now place the hands over the hips and also raise your butt upwards. Now stretch your hands to the side and let your body roll back a little until you feel a comfortable stretch. Now lift the head up and straighten the elbows. Hold the pose for few seconds and then release and repeat twice.

Trail Pose (Malasana)

Instructions:

Start the pose by sitting on your heels. Make sure the feet are spread wider than the hips.

Now lean forward and hold the ankles or the feet.

Hold the pose for few seconds and then release.

Tree Pose (Vriksasana)

A powerful pose for runners, tree pose helps develop balance and also stretches the hips. This is essential for runners to help alleviate hip pain and injuries. It also stretches out the spine, especially the lower part and can be great to do before bed.

Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)

This pose stretches the outer hips and ankles as well as the groin and inner thighs. If you have a leg injury, keep the front foot on the floor and raise your back leg, keeping your knee directly above the ankle.

Sleeping Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

This yoga pose is very effective both as a warm-up, and as a cool-down. It stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles.

Bring your left knee to the floor in front of your right knee. Keep both hips on the ground with your hands on the floor.

Lean forward slightly, keeping your chest on the ground. Hold this pose for a several seconds, and then change sides so the other foot is on the ground. Hold this pose for a several seconds as well.

This exercise is not only good for runners, but it is also effective for cyclists, swimmers, and hikers!

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

This is a great yoga pose for runners to do before running since it stretches the back and releases tension in the legs.

Start on hands and knees, with knees underneath hips and hands just in front of shoulders.

While pushing down through the palms and into the fingers, raise your hips until they are parallel to the floor.

Lengthen through the crown of the head and straighten your elbows.

Gaze forward and breathe deeply.

Hold pose for three to four breaths.

Scissor Down Belly Twist

A post is a great way to get your muscles warm and flexible before you take off for the day, so why not add more movement after your post is complete? This is a great way to add even more stretching to your regular routine.

How To Do It: lie down on your back and extend your legs so that your knees are bent.

Bring your arms overhead and place both hands behind your ears.

Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg, while also bringing your left arm across your body diagonally.

Put your right arm near your right ear and hold for 15-30 seconds. It’s important not to have

Your hip too far from the ground during this pose, as it puts too much pressure on the lower back.

This also opens up your hips and gives you a great stretch with a little side twist to help rotate your body.

Reclining Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

The reclining spinal twist is a wonderful way to both release tension in your lower body and stretch out your abdominal muscles.

When your core is weak this pose is also an excellent way to steady your body and even strengthen the muscles around the abdomen so that the lower back is more protected.

How to: Lay flat on your back and take both feet off the ground. Stretch out the left leg straight with the left arm alongside the ear, take the right hand on top of the left ankle and slowly lower the right knee to the right.

You can increase the stretch by gently pulling on the left ankle with the right hand. Then swing the right arm and leg on the left side from top to bottom.

Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Why: The reclining spinal twist offers runners a fantastic stretch for the abdominal muscles, groin and hip flexor muscles as well as the lower back and the spine.

By slowly drawing the knee to the opposite shoulder, any tension in your spine can be released while strengthening your core isolations.

The leaning over motion and gentle pulling on the left ankle encourages a stretch in the groin area that works to prevent injury.

Try to do this yoga pose at least once a week as part of your warm up to running.

Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

This is a great pose to use before bed. It’s easy to do and can relax you after a long day. Before you settle into bed, and with the aid of a wall (or chair), take your legs up the wall and sit up. You can prop your body up with a few pillows to get you in a comfortable position. Keeping your legs up the wall is supposed to give you a better night’s sleep, supposedly helping to release all those toxins from a hard day into the night.

During this pose, your blood flow increases to the brain, and it allows for good circulation. Your heart rate can also slow down while you’re in leg-up-the-wall pose.

What area of your body does this stretch? A few of the muscles in your thighs, groins, and back are all stretched by this pose.

How long should you hold this position? You can hold this pose for 10 to 20 minutes or until you need to get up. It’s good to hold leg-up-the-wall pose for at least 10 minutes to allow for a good stretch.

What will happen if you go past the 20 minute limit? If you hold this pose long enough, you will experience a deep relaxation.