Stretch Yourself: Three Yoga Poses Specifically for Runners

As a runner, fitness is very important to you, but what about flexibility? You may have heard that yoga does nothing for your wellbeing as a runner, which was certainly the case for runner Stepfanie Romine. Now, Romine is a certified ashtanga yoga teacher, but she didn’t always feel so positive about the wellness benefits of yoga. ‘When I first started running, I felt sore and tight, despite stretching thoroughly afterwards,’ Romine recalls. ‘I started thinking that running wasn’t meshing well with my yoga practice. Yoga helped me loosen my muscles, but running only seemed to tighten them. A few runs and a bit of research later, I changed my mind. Running and yoga complement each other quite well, and I don’t need to end up sore and tight after my runs after all. The right combination of yoga poses can help you stretch out and loosen up after your runs, keeping your muscles and joints healthy and preventing tightness.’


Therefore, Romine has designed a yoga routine tailored specifically for runners. For these poses, you will need a yoga mat, yoga block (or a chair), and a yoga strap (or towel). However, before you begin, make sure you have clearance from your doctor, and you are not pregnant. You should complete each pose slowly and with control. If you bounce or force the pose, you can tighten your muscles and this increases your risk of injury. You should stretch to the point of “mild discomfort” rather than the point of pain. Now, let’s take a look at some yoga poses for runners.


1. Butterfly/Cobbler Stretch: Also known as the Baddha Konasana, this pose stretches your inner thighs and opens up your groin and hips. Romine explains, ‘Sitting tall on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together. Interlace your fingers and place them around the toes. Sit tall, rolling the shoulders back, and gaze past the end of the nose. Lean forward for a deeper stretch, stopping when you start to “feel” the stretch. With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor).’


2. Seated Wide Angle Forward Fold: This Upavistha Konasana pose stretches your hamstrings and calves, as well as straightening and lengthening your spine. ‘From butterfly pose, extend your legs out to either side of you at a 90 degree angle,’ Romine instructs. ‘If you can straighten the legs, flex the feet and engage the quadriceps (by lifting your kneecap) to keep your knees from locking. Lean forward slightly and place your hands on the mat. With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (chest closer to the floor).’


3. Cow-Face Fold: The Gomukhasana is incredibly effective for stretching your piriformis, hips and IT band. Romine notes, ‘From a seated position, bring your left foot back by your right hip; stack your right knee on top of your left, with your right foot by your left hip. (If your hips are tight, your top leg/knee might stand rather than lie flat—that’s OK.) Grab your feet with your hands (left foot in right hand; right foot in left), and lean forward slightly, gazing past the end of your nose. For a deeper stretch, flex your feet. You can also place your hands on the floor in front of you and lean forward to intensify the stretch. Repeat on the other side, with the left knee on top this time.’

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