As much as I love running, it really tightens up my hamstrings, calves and hips. Practising yoga is a great complementary exercise to running, because it helps to stretch those tight muscles, create more flexibility and prevent injury.
I’ve designed this beginner-friendly yoga for runners sequence that you can do at home in your lounge or in your garden (if you have a wall). It will take between five and 10 minutes, depending on how long you’d like to stay in certain postures. I recommend at least 30 seconds, but you can stay for up to one minute.
Yoga Stretches For Runners
First we will focus on the calves and hamstrings. Begin in Downward Facing Dog and pedal out the legs as shown in the image below. Then move into your high plank and stretch out your calves.
Next we’ll focus on the hips. Move Low Lunge as shown below and really focus on pressing your hips forward. This will stretch your hip flexors. This move will also give you the added bonus of a good quad stretch for the leg that’s on the mat.
An area we often forget to stretch as runners is our feet! And yet this is a part of the body that takes a huge pounding. These two foot stretches may feel uncomfortable, so only stay in them as long as you feel you can. Rather take a short break and then attempt the stretch again.
The first stretch helps to prevent plantar fasciitis, which is a common injury among runners. The second move stretches out the top of the foot into the lower shin.
Lying down on the mat, we focus again on the hip area. This Reclined Cow Face posture targets the outer hips and the IT band. If holding your feet feels too much, then hold on to your shins. Really try to pull the knees closer in towards the chest.
Twists are really beneficial for the spine and the digestive system. This move is not as intense on the body as a full supine twist and is called a Windshield Wiper Twist. You can either hold for 30 seconds on each side as suggested below or gently move your knees from left to right a number of times for a minute.
This movement or posture really helps to release tightness around the lower back and hips.
To finish off this sequence, find a steady wall that you can swing your legs up against. The key to this posture is getting your sit bones as close to the wall as possible – they should press against the wall.
This posture is really restorative for tired legs and great to do every evening if you tend to spend a lot of time on your feet. Remaining still, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath will also help you to relax and de-stress.