With up to 1,000 steps in every mile, running is a high-impact sports that can tax your joints, muscles, and ligaments. Yoga can help you increase your balance, strength, flexibility, and mental toughness. Whether you want to run a 5K or an ultra marathon, learn why yoga helps and what poses give runners the biggest boost.
The Benefits of Yoga for Runners
Yoga not only tones your big muscles but connecting ones too, all while giving your muscles a much-needed lengthy stretch. This makes yoga a better workout for off days than strength training. When you gain strength and flexibility from yoga workouts, you can increase your pace and ward off overuse injuries.
Yoga can also help you address muscle imbalances, loosen chronically tight areas (like your IT band), and de-stress.
Best Yoga Poses for Runners
To create a yoga routine that helps you improve your performance in every run, add these poses to your next mat session:
An amazing hip opener, half pigeon is one of those poses that "hurts so good" when you do it. It's great for runners who have tight hips and glutes. The pose both lengthens your psoas muscles and increases the femur bone's outward rotation to relieve tightness.
To get into half pigeon, get on all fours and bring your right knee forward, just to the right of your right wrist. The right toes should point toward your left hip. Your left leg should be square with the floor with the knee and thigh slightly lifted, rather than externally rotated. Finally, square off your hips. If the right glute rests on the floor, you are in good shape. If the right glute is lifted, place a blanket underneath for support.
Simple yet effective, this beginner yoga pose gives the calves and hammies a good stretch. It also promotes length in your spine.
To get into down dog, start in push-up position. Push your arms up without locking your elbows and raise your buttocks toward the sky. Push the heels back and down to stretch your legs.
This yoga pose looks easy, but it offers a deep side stretch that releases tight muscles. Triangle pose is a super effective stretch for the inner thighs and hamstrings.
To get into triangle pose, stand with your feet wide apart and place your arms out in a T. Turn the left foot out 90 degrees and turn the right toes in slightly. Keeping your torso straight and your arms in a T, lean toward the left as far as you can naturally go. If you are flexible, you should be able to touch the floor with your left fingers in full triangle pose. If you aren't limber enough for this, stretch as far to the left as you can comfortably go, then bring your left forearm to rest on your left thigh, your ankle, or a prop.
Thread the Needle
This pose loosens that tension that can build up in your back, neck, and shoulders after a run. It's a great way to pay attention to some muscles that may be neglected during a post-run stretch.
To perform thread the needle, get on all fours. Lift up your right wrist and thread your right arm between your left arm and your torso. Rest your shoulder on the mat. Stay in this position for 5-10 deep breaths and feel your back muscles unwind.
Many runners have toned legs but weak upper bodies. Upward dog builds strength in the arms and core, which can improve performance.
To perform upward dog, get into push-up position and lower your body halfway down. Flip your feet over so your toes rest on the met. Push your chest forward, coming into a slight backbend. Try to maintain this challenging position for at least 30 seconds.
Perform these yoga poses after a run or do a yoga routine on your rest days. By performing these regularly, you will lengthen your muscles, improve your form, and prevent overuse injuries that affect runners.