Yoga is a great form of exercise and superb way to increase your flexibility and core strength. For runners, it is especially important to ensure that you are flexible through the ankles, legs, hips, spine and shoulders; to improve efficiency and minimise the risk of injury. Certain yoga moves will benefit you both before and after a run; to limber you up, increase your flexibility and help your muscles recover afterwards. Here are 14 great yoga poses for runners:
A great starting move, the cat cow will warm up the spine and get it prepared for more challenging movements. Start on all fours, with the hands underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips. Pull the shoulders down away from the ears and bend and extend up and down through the spine.
The downward facing dog is one of the most famous yoga poses, it stretches out the hamstrings, calves and ankles. From all fours, lift your hips up in to the air, pushing the arms straight and slowly straighten the knees. Once in position with straight arms and legs, push the heels and chest down towards the floor.
The crescent lunge will open up the hips and increase flexibility in the hip flexors. Lunge out to a wide split stance. Lift the back heel toward the sky and square the hips up, pointing forwards. Tuck the pelvis in and reach the arms high above your head as you bend the front knee downwards.
The upward facing dog opens out the chest, shoulders abs and hips. Starting from a press up position, tip the pelvis forwards and roll the hips forwards toward the floor. Keeping the arms straight lift the chest toward the ceiling while pushing the hips toward the ground.
Half moon is a great move to wake up the stabilising muscles around the hips, feet & ankles, and improve balance. Stand in a split stance and lean over to put the hand on the floor in front of the front foot. Press the front leg straight and lift the back leg straight out behind you. Reach the other arm around and open the chest, holding the posture in this position.
This will stretch and warm up the glute muscles and hip stabilisers that are really important for running strength. Start on your knees and put one leg in front, flat on the floor with a bent knee. Bend the body down over the front leg to increase the stretch.
King pigeon pose:
The king pigeon begins in the pigeon pose and additionally stretches the thigh muscles. From the pigeon pose, lift the back foot and pull it in to the body with your arms. You will feel a deep stretch through the thigh muscles.
Extended side angle:
This pose is good to stretch out the inner thigh and the sides. From the warrior pose; lean the same elbow on the front leg and side bend, raising the other arm straight overhead.
This will stretch the hip rotators and torso through rotation. Sit on the floor with one leg flat on the floor with a bent knee, and the other leg over the top with foot on the floor. Rotate in to the raised knee and push the elbow against the knee to deepen the stretch.
The sleeping hero will stretch out the big quadriceps muscles at the front of the thighs. Sit on the floor, in between the heels with bent knees. Lay your body back between your legs and feel the stretch through the thighs.
The supine twist is a good move to open the shoulder joint and stretch through the lower back. Start laying on your back, cross one leg over your body and place the opposite hand on that knee. Push the knee toward the floor and ensure you keep both shoulders flat against the floor.
Child’s pose will open up the hips and inner thighs, which get notoriously tight from running. Begin on all fours with the hands slightly in front of the shoulders. Separate the knees and sit the hips back between the knees, to touch the heels.
Another exercise to open the hips and inner thighs is the wide squat. Start stood up with the feet wide apart. Sit the hips down to the floor and push the knees out wide in the squat position. Hold the deep squat position and feel it stretch out the inner thighs.
The bridge is a superb exercise to awaken and strengthen the gluteal muscles. Begin laying flat on your back, with feet flat on the floor and knees bent at about 90 degrees. Squeeze the buttock muscles and push the hips in to the air, holding as high as possible.
There are 14 great yoga poses that every runner should be doing before and after a run, to build strength, increase flexibility and prevent injury.