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Yoga For Runners

by Amy Collins

Some people are yogis through and through. Some people use yoga to support their other styles of movement. And yoga doesn’t mind either way. It’s just there to help your body find mobility and strength. Running is incredibly common and can be quite taxing on the body. It requires a lot from the whole lower body and can be quite high impact on the joints. There are lots of ways that yoga can support you so you can release muscles after running and feel better hitting the pavement the next time around. Here’s how.

Lengthen the hip flexors
Running requires a lot from the hip flexors. And the continuous action and movement from them leaves them very tight. There are so many shapes in yoga that can help. Low lunge is a great way to start. Back knee down and arms either on the front thigh or reaching up. This shape is a great way to start to open the front of the back thigh without asking too much. From here, you can take this into lizard lunge, a deeper variation. With the hands on the ground now, take the front foot wider and take the back knee further back. To deepen again, tuck the back toes and lift the back knee off the ground or even come down onto the elbows. This will also help to open the front hip, which will be beneficial. Bridge pose or any backbend is going to target the front of the hips and also encourage the opening in the front of the body.

Release the calves
The calves are working in overtime on any runner. This tightness can even travel down into the ankles and the feet. Yoga can help to open up this whole area. Downward facing dog is a great place to start. It’s going to help open up the whole length of the legs, into the calves, ankles, and the feet. You can walk out the feet, bending one knee at a time allowing you to go a little deeper here as well.

Yogi squat can help to work on ankle mobility while also working on opening up through the hips. And finally, a simple toe squat (from sitting on your heels simply tick the toes under and sit the weight back), can really work into the feet and ankles. It can be a bit of an intense shape so only stay for shorter periods of time to begin.

Open up the glutes
The glutes have to work hard when we stand on one foot. And if you think about it, running is about constantly changing which foot we’re asking to take all out weight. Reclined pigeon is a great shape for runners (on your back with one ankle crossed over the opposite thigh). It allows opening through the outer hip, glute, and thigh, and takes strain off the knees and ankles.

Twist through the spine
The action of running is very up and down, forward and back, there is limited rotation or lateral movement involved. It’s very healthy for our spine to go in all directions. There are so many twists you can take in yoga, but a supine (or on your back) twist is very restorative at the same time. Lying on your back draw one knee is and drape it across the body. You can stay here as long as feels good.