Whether you run the occasional 5K or you’re a multi-marathon veteran, most runners could stand to benefit from adding the occasional yoga class to their workout routine. After all, yoga has a ton of benefits, like improving flexibility, building up endurance, and incorporating mindfulness into a regular routine.
And yoga for runners is especially helpful: runners will love the core strength they get from all those sun salutations, and a regular yoga routine can help prevent injuries that tend to plague runners (hello, tight hips).
This week, add a couple of these pre and post-run stretches to your running routine - namaste.
With “runner” right in the name, runner’s lunge is the perfect addition to your pre-run stretches. Runner’s lunge gives your hips, hip flexors, and groin a deep, satisfying stretch, and as you build up strength, you can practice transitioning from runner’s lunge to crescent lunge (which requires a little more strength and core stability as you extend your arms towards the sky).
To do runner’s lunge, start in a high plank with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Bring your right foot forward to the outside of your right wrist (if this isn’t comfortable, try lowering your left knee to the floor). With each exhale, sink deeper into the pose and feel your hips loosening up; hold for at least 30 seconds each side.
Chair pose is meant to mimic sitting down, but trust us, this muscle activation is perfect for a pre-run stretch to warm up your muscles (which is especially important if you’re running in cold weather). With practice, this yoga-for-runners pose will strengthen your core, improve your mobility, and activate the muscles you’ll rely on for a speedy run (like your glutes).
From a standing position, place all your weight in your heels and bend your knees to lower yourself down as if you’re going to sit in a chair; you should end up in a deep squat. Feeling good? Try raising your arms towards the ceiling while still maintaining a strong, flat back and upright posture (just make sure you put on aluminum-free deodorant first to protect you from any unexpected body odor). Throw in a few bodyweight squats to warm up your lower body even more.
Figure four stretch
Save this yoga pose for a cool down after a sweaty run. Figure four pose stretches your hips, your glutes and your lower back. The best part? If you’re *really* exhausted, you can do this stretch lying down.
To do figure four standing, balance on your left foot. Bring your right ankle to rest across the lower part of your left thigh, then sit back as far as you can without losing your balance (as if you’re lowering down into a squat!). Keep your chest up and your back flat as you focus on your breath. Not great at balancing? Take figure four lying on your back by resting your right ankle on top of your left thigh, then bringing your left knee towards your chest to deepen the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side as your heart rate comes down.
This foundational yoga for runners move feels oh-so-good during a cooldown post-run stretch (or honestly, even after a long day at work). Plus, it pulls double duty: yes, downward dog stretches your calves, hamstrings, and foot arches, but it also strengthens your shoulders.
To do downward dog, begin in your high plank. With your legs as straight as possible, shift back and lift your hips up into the air so you make an upside-down “v” with your body. From here, alternate trying to touch each heel to the ground to help stretch out your calves. Feel your muscles loosen and your mind quiet with every cycle of breath.
Now that you know the best pre-run and post-run yoga poses for runners, it’s time to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement! Just remember to stay hydrated, swipe on your favorite clean deodorant, and you’re ready to rock.
Written by Kristen Geil