Runners are known for their notoriously tight muscles and (let’s face it) lack of mobility. Adding a few simple yoga stretches into your daily routine will strengthen your muscles while easing some of that tightness. A ten-minute daily yoga practice will give you a mindfulness boost while helping your body recover quickly after tough training.
Don’t worry about getting these stretches perfect — move into each pose until you can feel a stretch but aren’t experiencing pain or numbness. It may be challenging at first: know that you’ll limber up quickly if you keep practicing. Try these a few times a week to start.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Pigeon Pose helps open those pesky tight hips runners often complain about. It targets the hip flexors, glutes, and piriformis muscles, improves hip flexibility, and can relieve lower back pain often experienced by runners.
Begin in a high plank position (a high push-up), and bring your right knee forward and behind your right wrist, shin diagonally across your mat. Extend your left leg straight behind you, with the top of your foot on the floor.
Slide your right foot towards your left wrist until you feel a stretch in your right hip and glute. Aim to square your hips towards the front of your mat, and imagine your spine growing longer with each breath.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, and release. Switch sides and repeat.
Downward Dog gives a great stretch to calves, hamstrings, and lower legs, while strengthening shoulders and arms. It improves overall flexibility and helps relieve tension in the legs and back.
Begin on hands and knees, with hands shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart. Press your hands into the mat and lift your hips up and back, straightening your legs as much as possible.
Keep your arms and legs moving toward straight (a bend in your knees is okay), with your heels pressing toward the floor. Lengthen your spine and relax your head between your arms.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on deep breaths.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II):
Warrior II helps build leg strength while adding hip flexibility and giving the groin and inner thighs a stretch. It improves balance, stability, and focus.
Stand with your feet wide apart, facing forward. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, aligning it with the center of your left foot, and bend your right knee, aiming to keep it directly above your ankle, while keeping your left leg straight.
Send your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, palms facing down, and direct your gauze over your right hand.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch sides.