As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, more and more people are starting to choose running as a form of exercise, sometimes even training for local races or even marathons. While running is a great form of exercise and allows you to spend more time in the fresh air, it can also take a toll on the body. Thankfully, a regular yoga practice can have many benefits for runners, from increased flexibility and injury prevention to improved breathing and stamina. Certain poses in particular are great for runners, particularly those that focus on creating openness and flexibility in the lower body. Whether you are recovering from a long race or heading out for a quick jog around your local park, Hotpod Yoga instructor (and avid runner) Colly has put together a list of the 5 top yoga poses for runners which you can incorporate into your practice.
Low lunge is a classic yoga pose for runners that really stretches out the hip flexors, and builds strength and stability in the hips. You can add easily variations to target the upper body as well, such as cactus arms to stretch out your pectoral muscles, or bring a twist into it to release any tension in your back which may have built up from swinging your arms while running.
Don’t underestimate the benefit of a downward dog to target your hamstrings and calves – you’ll really feel the stretch of this pose after a run! Gradually ease into the pose by pedalling through both feet, then try stepping the feet in 10 centimetres or so to shorten the pose and gently draw the heels down to the ground.
There are many variations of this deep hip-opening pose, all of which are excellent for runners. To add a quad stretch to your Lizard pose, bend the back leg, bringing your heel to your glutes, and reach the opposite side hand back (or use a strap) to grab the outer edge of your back foot.
Runners often suffer from tightness in the groin area, and butterfly pose is an excellent way to offer a bit of relief. To feel the full effects of the stretch, lengthen through the crown of your head, relax your shoulders and gently draw the knees down to the ground. To increase flexibility even further, the principles of PNF stretching can be applied here too; try pushing your knees up into your hands and your hands down onto your thighs, creating tension for a few seconds. Release the tension and you may be able to get a little deeper into the stretch.
This popular pose for runners may look easy, but don’t let that deceive you! If you’re tight in the lower legs and feet, as many runners are, you’ll really feel the effects of this stretch. It’s also great for avoiding one of the most painful side effects of frequent running: shin splints. Place a rolled-up mat under your knees to help stretch the fronts of ankles and muscles around the shins.
Colly has previously run ‘Yoga for Runners’ workshops at Hotpod Yoga Brixton, and you can find more information about his teaching style and any tips on his website.
Follow Colly on Instagram @mistercollieman to find out more.