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I’ve recently gotten back into running for plans to run my first half marathon. After practicing yoga for many years and now running again has made me realize how important yoga is for runners. Every single person who runs should be practicing yoga consistently in order to avoid injury, reduce stiffness, and improve their overall running.
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Why All Runners Should Do Yoga
Adding yoga into your routine as a runner has more benefits than you may realize! Here are a few:
1. Improves Range of Motion
Running is a repetitive motion, which can lead to tightening and tension in the muscles and decreased range of motion. Increasing your range of motion will make it easier for you to lift up your legs and run longer distances because an increased range of motion minimizes the amount of effort it takes to run.
2. Increases Muscular Strength and Endurance
Whenever you feel your form getting sloppy it is because your muscles are tired. And when you run with bad form, it will increase your chances of getting injured. This is why increasing your muscular strength and endurance using yoga will significantly reduce your running injuries.
3. Improves Breathing
Your breath is very important when you are running. If you lose control of your breath, you lose control of your run. In yoga, you practice breath work throughout the entire sequence. This breath training will allow you to have a more relaxed breathing pattern when you run and increase your overall run significantly.
4. Improves Balance and Posture
This goes back to having better form. When you are able to improve your posture by strengthening your muscles it will help you improve your form. Having great form when you run will allow you to run for longer distances and decrease your chances of getting injured.
5. Reduces Stress
Studies have proven that running increases cortisol levels, the infamous stress hormone. Although this is not necessarily bad for short periods of time, long term it can cause a lot of issues like weight plateauing or gain, depression, etc. Adding in an alternative exercise that decreases cortisol like yoga is great for stress relief, hormonal balance, and avoiding adrenal fatigue.
Is Yoga Better Before or After Running?
Yoga is perfect before and after you run. The thing is the yoga sequence you do before a run and after a run is going to be completely different from one another.
Whenever you are about to prepare for a run you are going to want to avoid long static type stretching. Over-stretching your muscles will end up causing injury to your body. The goal in a yoga sequence before a run it to get you warmed up and ready. Most poses will be held for shorter periods of time and you will find yourself “pulsing” while you are in the pose to activate the muscle.
After you run is when you are going to want to focus on holding poses for longer periods of time. This is essential for all runners because it is going to increase your recovery time and help you improve your future runs.
10 Minute Post-Run Yoga Routine for Runners
This is how the routine for your post-run goes:
- Downward Facing Dog- 30 seconds
- High Lunge- 30 seconds
- Crescent Lunge- 30 seconds
- Half Split- 30 seconds
- Lizard- 30 seconds
- Butterfly- 30 seconds
- Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold- 30 seconds
- Seated Wide Legged Forward fold- 30 seconds
- Reclined Big Toe- 30 seconds
- Corpse Pose- 1 minute (after second round)
1. Downward Facing Dog
The repetitive motions of running can cause tight hamstrings, and having loose hamstrings is important to preventing injury.
Downward Facing Dog is a great yoga pose to loosen the tension and tightness in your hamstrings, you will feel the stretch immediately.
To do Downward Facing Dog:
- Get onto all fours with your wrists under shoulders and legs inner hip distance apart with your toes tucked.
- Send your hips up and back into the air. Ground through your hands and engage your upper body and core. Don’t let all the weight fall onto your arms by engaging your core and legs as well.
- If you have tight hamstrings, you won’t be able to get your feet to touch the ground and will feel a lot of tightness right off the bat. Try pedaling your feet out one at a time to loosen them up instead of holding the pose the entire time.
2. High Lunge
High Lunge stretches the inner hip and hip flexors. Runners tend to build up tension in this area as well from the repetitive motions. This will definitely help you release it!
To do High Lunge:
- From Downward Facing Dog, bend your right leg and sweep it underneath you to the front of your body, in between your hands.
- You should be on your back toes now. Extend through your heel and engage your back leg so your kneecap lifts.
- Ground through your front foot and bend your right knee at a 90 degree angle with knee over ankle, then rise up using your core.
- Lift your arms up above your head and sink deeper into your front leg.
3. Crescent Lunge
This is definitely on my top list of favorite yoga poses because of how great it feels on the hip flexors. It stretches similar areas to High Lunge but the stretch is much deeper.
To do Crescent Lunge:
- Drop your back knee slowly to the ground from High Lunge. Untuck your back toes.
- You can either place your hands on your knee or up above your head. Sink forward into your right hip as you create a very slight backbend.
- Keep your chest lifted throughout the pose and your hips even.
4. Half Split
This pose deeply stretches your calves, thighs, and groin. This may feel a bit intense if you have never tried it before, which I would then recommend using blocks until you have done it a few times and released some tension.
To do Half Split:
- From Crescent Lunge, straighten your front leg as you sink your seat slightly backwards over your leg.
- Flex your foot back towards you, and make sure your hips are even with each other. You may already start to feel a deep stretch here.
- Begin to slowly fold over your front leg keeping your foot flexed back towards you. Only go as far that is “comfortably uncomfortable”. You don’t want to feel actual pain, just a deep stretch. Place a block on either side of you as support to make the stretch milder.
I like to go through a flowing sequence between Crescent Lunge and Half Split just as you would in Cat and Cow. Just slowly move through the two poses, holding each for a few breaths, and repeat about three times.
Lizard Pose works on your hamstrings, groin, and hip flexors, and can help strengthen the ligaments in your hips.
To do Lizard Pose:
- From Half Split, bend your front leg and bring it the the outside of your right hand, grounding it on the floor.
- Straighten your back leg out behind you, keeping the toes tucked or untucked. You can choose to tuck the toes and keep the leg lifted for a deeper stretch.
- Come down onto your forearms, making them parallel to each other with pals flat.
- Keep the chest lifted and be mindful not to put all your weight onto one side, try to keep the hips square.
Butterfly pose is great for stretching the inner thighs, groin, and actually works on the lower back as well to relieve tension.
To do Butterfly Pose:
- Come to a seated position, sitting with a tall spine like in Easy Seat.
- Bring your feet together with the soles touching. The closer you bring you feet towards your body, the deeper the stretch. Adjust to what feels right for your body.
- Try using your hands to gently push your knees down to the ground. You can stay here if this is a deep enough stretch for you, or you can fold over your front body.
7. Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold
This is a relaxing pose that is great for improving flexibility in the hamstrings and thighs.
To do Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold:
- From Butterfly Pose, if you are folded, come back up to a seated position with a straight and tall spine.
- Straighten your legs out in front of you and flex your feet back towards you.
- On your next exhale, while keeping a flat back, slowly fold over your legs. You can grab onto your shins, ankles, or toes if possible.
- Make sure not to collapse through your chest or round the spine.
8. Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold
This is similar to Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold except instead the legs are spread wide. This works more on the groin and hip flexors.
To do Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold:
- Come back up from your fold in Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold with a straight back.
- Bring your legs out as wide as you comfortably can and flex the feet back towards you.
- On your exhale, slowly walk your fingertips forward to fold over. Be mindful of how your body feels throughout the pose and adjust the width of your legs to what feels best for you.
9. Reclined Big Toe
For this pose you will need a strap, but you can also use a tie, belt, or practically anything around your house that is flexible and long. Yoga straps are super inexpensive though- you can check out the one we use on our Recommendations Page.
This pose deeply stretches your calves, thighs, and hips as well. My legs always feel so much better after I practice this pose.
To do Reclined Big Toe:
- Lie on your back with legs straight out in front of you.
- Grab your strap and place the middle of your right foot inside of it.
- Keep both feet flexed towards you and straight. On your exhale, lift your right leg into the air, and pull back on the strap to pull your toes towards you.
- This stretch may feel intense for some at first. Adjust the intensity by how high you lift your leg and how strongly you pull back on the strap.
Your leg may start to shake. Mine usually does when I haven’t done this pose for awhile. That is just the tension being release.
There’s a great video on proper form in the pose below.
10. Corpse Pose
After you have completed this sequence on both sides, come into Savasana, or Corpse Pose. Do not skip this! This is so important for runners and anyone doing yoga to relax your mind and body from all the active stretching you just did.
To do Corpse Pose:
Come onto your back into a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
Allow your feet to fall to the sides. Gently bring mindfulness to each part of your body and release any tension you notice you are holding in it.
Stay here as long as your body and mind require. I recommend at least doing this pose for one minute, which can be challenging for people first starting out.
Adriene from Yoga with Adriene has the best video on how to “properly” do Corpse Pose below.
Try to make it a habit to practice yoga every time after your run. Just spending 10 minute can bring you so many benefits and make your running experience so much better.
Check out our other routines to keep your mind and body relaxed and feeling great:
- Restorative Yoga Sequence to Relax the Mind and Body
- 10 Minute Beginner Yoga Routine to Ease Back Pain
- 6 Gentle Yoga Poses for Beginners with Tight Neck and Shoulders
- 10 Minute Beginner Yoga Routine for Flexibility
Victor is the co-founder of GroundedPanda.com. He began practicing yoga over 10 years ago and has since then engulfed himself into natural health including calisthenics, mindfulness & meditation techniques, and nutrition. Education is a passion of his and he loves helping beginners with their health journeys. When he’s not writing, you can find him running, working out in random places, and most likely talking to someone about intermittent fasting.