Yoga Stretches for Runners

Benna Crawford
Runner stretching in sunny rural field

Running, as great as it is for fitness, comes with a price: tight muscles. If you want to enjoy all the many bennies your running habit delivers, add a few minutes of yoga stretches after your run (when you're warmed up) to prevent injury and protect your agility and range of motion. You don't need a mat for most of these; you can do them right on the trail, track, or a patch of off-trail grass.

Low Lunge - Anjaneyasana

Low lunge, anjaneyasana, is just more of the same -- a pose that mimics an exaggerated running stride -- but deeper, slower, longer, more grounded. You get an amazing stretch from your pinkie finger all the way down the front of your torso and leg to your toes. A low lunge tackles tight hips, thighs, groins, and abs as it works that nice split that gives your in-motion run its kick. The backbend and long leg stretch of the pose are really satisfying after the intense forward motion and pounding pace of your run. Enjoy it but if you choose to deepen the stretch, stay focused and don't bounce. Bouncing is bad form for stretches.

Downward-Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

The dog will never let you down. It's good for just about everything. For runners, downward facing dog is a stretch for the spine, hamstrings, calves, ankles, arches, shoulders, and even hands. If you can't get your heels on the ground in full forward fold, use a handy bench, fence, porch step, tree stump -- whatever -- to brace yourself and really work the backs of those tight legs.

Garland - Malasana

Pretty name, tough pose. Garland pose or malasana will stretch your ankles, groins, and back. It opens your hip flexors, stretches your hamstrings, and releases your IT (iliotibial) band, which runs along your outer thigh from pelvic bone to shin. The wide-legged full squat improves balance, too. Breathe slow and deep; you can do this, and it feels so good when you stop.

Lord of the Dance - Natarajasana

You'll look gorgeous in dancer pose, but that's not why you do it. Lord Shiva Nataraj was onto something when he struck this pose in his cosmic dance. It stretches ankles, legs, thighs, groins, abs, chest, and shoulders. While you're fighting the wobbles, you're improving your balance. It feels good, looks good, and is good for you. Win-win-win.

More Is Better

Don't confine yourself to stand-up stretches after your run, or runner-friendly yoga stretches once you've hit your miles. Work great stretches into your regular yoga routine for even more supple bennies. Warrior III, locust, fish, triangle, forward bend...you have a long list of awesome stretches to choose from while you're thinking about running as you're on your yoga mat.

Yoga Stretches for Runners