Running is a great form of exercise but if that’s all we do, our bodies will be out of balance. Cross training is essential to preventing injury. A great addition to anyone’s weekly fitness routine, runner or not, is yoga. Yoga helps to strengthen, stretch and lengthen our muscles. Think of every step you take while running. You are exerting 3-4 times your body weight just with one step! It’s no wonder we hear of runners who have bad knees, hips, ankles, feet, and low back pain. The pain is not from running but our bodies overcompensating for imbalances.
The following list of postures are my favorite to do after a run or anytime. I’ve been known to roll out my mat while I watch t.v. at night to sit in Garland Pose or my favorite, Legs-Up-The-Wall.
1. Garland Pose - I fell in love with this pose while pregnant. We would do this every session in prenatal yoga. For obvious reasons, it’s great for preparing for delivery. Post babies, I’ve found that it stretches my ankles and achilles better than any calf stretch.
2. Downward Facing Dog - An all over good stretch. I especially like how it lengthens my back muscles. It’s another pose that really stretches the calves, too.
3. Runner’s or High Lunge – Stretches the groin area.
4. Big Toe Pose - One of the best poses for stretching the hamstrings in my opinion. I also love that every vertebrae in my back realigns and the muscles relax. My go-to pose when I’ve been sitting for long periods at a desk or computer.
5. Extended Triangle – Triangle stretches and opens every muscle in your body. I love the stretch in my side body and chest.
6. Pigeon – Like a lot of runners, I have tight hip flexors. This pose hits just the right spot to stretch the stingy areas.
7. Half Lord of the Fishes – I’ve always had issues with tightness in my neck and shoulders. Half Lord of the Fishes feels great after a run or anytime to alleviate that tightness.
8. Cat – A must for anyone! This is a gentle stretch that warms up the spine.
9. Cow - Another great pose for the spine. Cat and Cow poses are usually paired together.
10. Legs Up The Wall – Provides great rest for tired legs after a long run or day at work. It relaxes the back and neck, too.
Yoga Journal has a very cool feature that allows you to build your own sequence with pictures and descriptions. Or if you have a specific ailment, there is a list of postures to help all your aches and pains. I also recommend Yoga Download. They have a Yoga For Runners class that is great for hitting the hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings. Or head to your local gym or Yoga Studio for a class. Your instructor can show you certain poses tailored to your needs and wants.
Source of all pictures: Yoga Journal