5 Yoga Poses For Runners That'll Feel Absolutely Amazing After You Pound The Pavement
Runners know better than anyone how uncomfortable tight muscles can be. If you love running, then you probably can't even imagine life without that endorphin-infused runners' high. But, as much as you love your head-clearing, daily jogs, those hip flexors need to loosen up somehow. If you've never tried it before, adding a few yoga poses for runners into your cool-down routine might just provide you with the sweet relief your body's been craving.
The reason why you should consider doing a few bendy yoga poses after your run (rather than before) is because these bad boys are considered static stretches — aka positions that you hold for anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, to lengthen your muscles and increase flexibility. According to Competitor.com, static stretches are best done after your cardio sesh because your muscles are warm and lubricated, so there's a significantly lower chance that you'll pull anything or injure yourself.
By including a few yoga poses that mimic static stretching into your post-run routine, you'll improve your range of motion and help your muscles feel restored and ready to go for your next lap around the block.
When your muscles feel tight AF after your next run, loose up with these five relaxing yoga poses.
1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
After you get home from your run, slip into a rejuvenating low lunge to help stretch out those tight quadriceps, groin muscles, hamstrings, and hips. Anjaneyasana will encourage a full range of motion in your lower body, which is what makes it truly perfect after you're done pounding the pavement.
If you feel like the floor or your mat is too intense on your knees, you can place a blanket underneath your grounded knee for some added support and comfort as you hold this asana.
Keep your hands on the floor, framing your front foot, or lift them up to rest on your thigh for a bit of a challenge to your balance. Breathe slowly and expansively, and make sure you hold the stretch for equal amounts of time on each side of your body.
2. Half Split (Ardha Hanumanasana)
Half splits are literally magic for dedicated runners because they really get into the hamstrings, but they don't strain your body too much, which is definitely a good thing when you're already feeling sore AF.
In fact, in yoga, this pose is often referred to as the "runner's lunge" because of its extensive and therapeutic benefits for post-cardio cool-down. Ardha hanumanasana stretches out your thighs and groin, releasing any tightness and tension you've accumulated during your run.
Try to maintain a flat back, rather than rounding your spine, when you're performing this stretch. Listen to your body, and only go deeper when it feels right. Again, if your back knee isn't comfortable, you can fold your mat over for added support, or place a blanket underneath it.
3. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
While lower-body stretches are often the focus for post-run recovery (with good reason), you still need to give your upper body some lovin', too!
Thread the needle pose is perfect for releasing any tension you're holding onto in your upper body, as the movement gently loosens your shoulders, arms, chest, neck, and upper back. If you have a tendency to hold tension between your shoulder blades when you run, thread the needle pose will release all of that, while simultaneously providing a luxurious spinal twist to further relax your body.
While this might feel intense at first, do your best to stick with it. Over time, you'll find yourself craving this nourishing asana after your runs.
4. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
TBH, runners' hips need all the TLC they can get, and lizard pose is exactly what you need to get the job done, fam. Utthan pristhasana promotes a full range of motion in your hip flexors by stretching deeply into the hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Moving through lizard pose to decompress after your demanding cardio sessions will help prevent IT band issues, which are common in runners, with its many variations.
While you're in this stretch, consider taking it deeper by coming down to your forearms and resting there. And, if you want to go even further into the pose, consider taking hold of your foot and stretching out your quad even more. Keep in mind that these are both very intense variations — never push or force anything that doesn't feel right for your body.
5. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Personally, pigeon pose is my absolute favorite asana, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the universe's gift for tight hips everywhere. When I used to train for half marathons, pigeon pose was my go-to method for loosening up my muscles after a cardio session, and I have a feeling you'll learn to love it just as much as I do.
Eka pada rajakapotasana (try saying that five times fast) is an incredibly powerful hip-opener, so it might feel pretty uncomfortable for runners at first. Consider placing a block underneath your butt so you can achieve proper alignment in this pose and get the full benefits, without being too uncomfortable.
However, if you feel any pain in your knees, feel free to take a figure four stretch on your back instead. This is essentially the same thing as pigeon pose, and it's a great building block to eventually work your way into the full expression of the asana.
Stay with your deep, ujjayi breathing, and try to relax here for about a minute on each side.