Running is a great cardio workout that can help you lose weight, stay in shape, and improve your fitness.
But if your usual MO is going straight from your run to the shower, you’re missing out on a key step that can keep you running and feeling your best in the long run: a quick post-run yoga routine.
Read on to discover the many benefits of yoga for runners. Plus, the seven best yoga poses for post-run recovery.
Is yoga good for runners?
Yoga and running make a perfect pair.
Yoga helps break up the repetitive motions of running that often lead to muscle imbalances, pain, and even injury.
“Yoga really helps engage the whole body and creates a strong sense of balance from head to toe,” says yoga teacher Jennifer Fuller.
For example, if you typically use more quads than hamstrings with each running stride, yoga can help you slow down and focus on building strength in lagging muscle groups.
Balancing the muscles in these legs can help prevent running-related pain.
Plus, you’ll strengthen the small but important muscles that play a vital role in moving you forward (like those in your feet and calves), as well as the postural muscles that keep you upright.
Yoga also relieves the repetitive stress that running can put on your spine and joints.
“Sometimes back pain can be a problem because of that constant pounding of the pavement,” says Fuller. “Twisting or bending forward or doing backbends can really open up the spine, giving the discs more room.”
All these benefits make yoga the perfect post-workout recovery option for runners.
7 essential yoga poses for runners
Relieve your hard-working muscles with these asanas. String them together and you have an effective recovery routine that only takes 15 minutes.
Do these poses after your run, or at least twice a week, says Fuller.
Do you want more ? Start your yoga practice from the comfort of your living room with Yoga52, a comprehensive online yoga program that complements your running habit.
1. Toe Stretch
According to Fuller, this pose stretches the areas that form the base of your running stride: your toes and the arch of your foot.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees together. Place a cushion or folded blanket under your knees for support, if needed.
- Tuck your toes in and sit back on your heels. Try to keep your knees on the ground.
- Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you can. Repeat for 3 sets in total.
2. Down dog
This classic yoga pose stretches your calves, hamstrings, and glutes while strengthening your upper body and core.
- Get on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders.
- Tuck your toes, push into the floor with your hands, and lift your hips toward the ceiling to straighten your legs. You may find that keeping a micro bend in your knees to lift your hamstrings will help deepen your hamstring stretch.
- Continue pressing your hands into the floor, your hips back, and your heels toward the floor to intensify the stretch.
- Hold for 60 seconds.
3. Low lunge
“The low lunge stretches the hip flexors, glutes, and quads, and strengthens the lower legs and feet,” says Fuller.
- From downward dog, switch to a high plank and step your right foot forward between your hands.
- Lower your left knee to the floor and kick your toes out so the top of your left foot is flat on the floor.
- Raise your chest and lower your hips as low as possible. Slide your left knee back if you need more of a stretch.
- Keeping both hips level, sweep your arms up toward the ceiling and lift your chest. Try to drive your hips deeper toward your front heel.
- Hold the position for 60 seconds before switching sides.
4. pigeon pose
Like the low lunge, the pigeon pose stretches the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. “But there’s no strengthening in this move, it’s more of an active stretch that’s good for reducing back pain,” Fuller says.
- From downward dog, bend your right knee and bring it behind your right wrist.
- Slide your right ankle toward your left wrist, so your right shin crosses your mat at a comfortable angle.
- Slowly lower your hips to the floor, keeping them level throughout the stretch. The top of your left foot should be flat on the floor.
- Once you have found your ideal position, move your hands forward to fold your upper body over your front leg.
- Hold the position for 60 seconds before switching sides.
5. Lying down twist
This pose stretches the back, glutes, core, and outer hips. “It also creates space through the spine, which is great for lower back pain,” says Fuller.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs stretched out and open your arms in a “T” shape. Squeeze your knees towards your chest.
- Keeping both shoulders on the floor, lower your knees to the floor to your right. Slowly turn your head to the left.
- Inhale and exhale slowly and hold for 60 seconds. Switch sides.
6. tree pose
This standing pose strengthens the ankles, feet, and shin muscles, while strengthening balance and concentration.
- Stand up straight, your big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Shift your weight to your left foot and raise your right knee.
- Open your right knee to your right and place the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left calf or thigh. (Do not place your foot against your knee.)
- Keep your left knee flexible as you balance. When you’re ready, clasp your hands in front of your heart, above your head, or directly at your sides.
- Balance for 60 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
seven. Triangular posture
This pose ties together everything you’ve done so far: stretching the legs, hips, and ankles, while strengthening the legs, abs, and back, and practicing balance, Fuller explains.
- Stand up straight, your big toes touching, heels slightly apart.
- Step your left foot back 3-4 feet, planting your left foot at a 45 degree angle, with your right toes pointing up from your mat.
- Rotate your torso to the left, extending your arms in a “T” shape.
- Straighten both legs and hinge at your hip to shift your torso onto your right leg without bending at the waist.
- Touch the floor or a block with your right hand and reach your left hand up to the ceiling, letting your gaze follow.
- Inhale and exhale slowly. Hold the position for 60 seconds before switching sides.