Yoga Poses for Runners

March 31st 2020

In the past, those who were active runners didn’t really resort to yoga because they weren’t familiar with the benefits. However, times have changed, and running and yoga are increasingly viewed as complementary physical activities.

When you’re a runner, your muscles are bound to get tight. In order for those muscles to be released and relaxed, yoga can serve as a beneficial gateway due to its restorative and balancing properties. Releasing those tight muscles after running with some fluid yoga poses is an excellent recovery option for anyone. At SportMe, we aim to help you develop a personalized training routine with our app. Here’s how you can incorporate yoga.

Related: How to Breathe When Running

What are the Best Yoga Poses for Runners?

In order for you to be a runner who’s healthy, happy, and free of injuries, it’s necessary to possess mind-body integration and a combination of flexibility and strength. Yoga can provide you with just that. Here are some yoga poses you can try if you’re a runner:

1. Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-facing dog pose

Source YogaJournal

Downward-facing dog works great, even for right after your run, as it strengthens your shoulders, and stretches your hamstrings, calves, and foot arches.

Start on your hands and knees. Have your wrists align under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Slowly spread your fingers and press your palms to the floor. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor. 

Slowly straighten your legs and raise your hips so that they make an inverted V. Take about ten deep breaths. As you feel your muscles loosening up, attempt to straighten your legs a little and then let your heels sink towards the mat. 

2. Upward-Facing Dog

Blonde woman doing yoga on the floor, in front of a concrete wall

Photo by Katee Lue on Unsplash

For this yoga position, start by facing the floor and lying on your abdomen. Place your hands on the mat in line with your lower ribs, with your wrists aligned under your elbows. Let your legs go back, and push the top of your feet down into the floor. Straighten your arms and press down your hands. Pull your chest up and lift the front area of your thighs and hips away from the floor. Take a few deep breaths, and then roll back down.

Despite having strong legs, runners can often have weak upper bodies, especially their core and arms. This ends up hurting their performance. This pose helps with upper body strength and stretches the whole front of the body.

3. Tadasana/Mountain Pose

Poor posture is something runners often deal with. Tadasana, or the Mountain Pose, helps with proper alignment. When your posture improves, so does efficient breathing when running.

Start by keeping your feet hip distance apart. Keep your head slightly up, and have your back rest on top of your spine. As you stand take deep breaths, thinking of your torso as buoyant and bright. When you inhale, you will be able to feel your spine lift up. With each exhale on your part, let your body relax. 

4. Triangle Pose

Man doing yoga on white, as a concept of triangle pose

Source: Yoga Journal

The Triangle Pose helps in stretching your inner thighs and hamstrings. Allowing you to open your body and expand laterally, this pose is a great way to release tension in your muscles. 

Keep your feet wide apart. Turning your left foot slightly in, roll your right thigh open in order to turn your right foot out by 90 degrees. Align your feet on the mat so that your right front foot’s heel is in line with your left foot’s arch. Press down into your feet, and then pull up on your thighs. 

Breathe in, stretching your arms out to your sides at shoulder length. While exhaling, stretch your torso forward towards the right foot while shifting your hips towards the left heel. Place your right hand somewhere you can find support, such as your shin or ankle, and then take about five deep breaths. Then, proceed to press down with your feet, and lift with your thighs to arrive to a standing position. Turn your feet into a parallel side, and then repeat this on the left side.

5. Reclining Pigeon

Reclining pigeon

Source: BestHealthMag

The reclining pigeon pose helps in releasing the tightness and tension in the hips. Start by lying on your back and bending your knees. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and your thighs parallel. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh. Reach your left arm through the space between your thighs. To reach your right arm, go around the outside of your right thigh.

Flex your left foot while clasping your hands below your right knee. To prevent your head from going off the mat, place a pillow behind your head. Take ten deep breaths and then repeat on the other leg.

6. Bound Angle Pose

Woman doing yoga on white, as a concept of bound angle pose

Source: Yoga Journal

Perfect for opening the inner thighs, you can begin the bound angle pose by sitting on the floor. After that, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Place your hands behind you to get some support, and then lengthen your spine towards the ceiling. 

Spread your inner thighs open towards your inner knees, and draw your outer knees towards your outer hips. Placing your hand on your ankles, proceed to hinge forward over your feet. Take ten deep breaths. Coming back up to sit, close your knees together using your hands.  

7. Reclined Pyramid Pose

The reclined pyramid pose is a great yoga posture for runners as it helps in opening your calves and hamstrings without putting strain on your lower back. Start the pose by lying on your back, and put your right foot in a yoga strap. You can also use the tie to a robe or even a towel.

Keeping your left leg on the floor, raise your right leg (the one with the strap on the foot). Move your arms towards the strap until they’re straight. Then, pull on the straps, bending your elbows as much as you are comfortable with to give your right leg a light stretch. Repeat the process by shifting the strap to the left foot.

8. Virabhadrasana III/Warrior III 

The Warrior III serves as a multipurpose yoga pose for runners. Not only does it help with your balance, it also improves your core stability, while protecting your knee. This pose also helps with strengthening the proprioceptor muscles around your ankle.

Start by standing upright. Inhale as you shift your weight to one leg, and then lift off with your hips being square to the ground as you stretch your arms overhead. While holding this position, make sure to bend the standing leg. Hold this pose as long as it’s comfortable. Before you switch sides, be sure to shake out the legs. 

9. Reclined Cobbler’s Pose

This serves as a great yoga pose for runners as it releases the tight adductors, and helps in getting rid of the tension in your muscles while also opening up your hips. Start by lying down, and make sure your shoulders, neck, and back are supported. 

Get your arms relaxed by keeping them on your sides. Bend your knees and then bring the soles of your feet together. Softly guide your knees towards the mat. You can choose to place yoga blocks under your knees for support. 

10. Plank Pose

A strong core is required to achieve optimal postural support while running. The plank pose can be beneficial in this regard as it helps in building balanced strength. 

Start by interlocking your fingers and placing your elbows on the mat. While keeping your toes tucked, continue inhaling and exhaling as you extend your legs out behind you. Slowly move up and level your hips while being careful to not drop your lower back. 

When you’re done, exhale to bring your body down and rest on your stomach. Repeat the process, and you choose, add a side plank by shifting your weight onto your right arm and rotating your body sideways, balancing so that your front body is facing the wall. Repeat on the left side.

Related: 20 Tips For Long Distance Running

Summing Up

Silhouette of person in yoga posture on top of cliff during sunset

Photo by Dave Contreras on Unsplash

There are many factors that can cause pain when running, from muscle strain to imbalances in the body. One way to bring your body to achieve the necessary level of balance is through yoga. 

Yoga and running might seem like being situated on the extreme ends of the exercise spectrum, but together they make a great combination of strength and flexibility. Yoga helps in reducing the physical stress induced from running, increases your confidence and awareness, and most importantly, greatly reduces the risk of injuries. 

Therefore, if you're looking to improve your strength, posture, flexibility, and balance as a runner, you should definitely give these yoga poses a shot. With SportMe, keep track of your progress and develop a custom training plan. Find out more about our app here.

Related: Top Marathon Runners and How They Got There