When I used to think of yoga, I always imagined a group of really flexible people contorting their bodies and balancing in some pretty impressive ways. The yoga we see in the media always seems to look so complicated that successfully attempting the activity myself seems pretty unrealistic. It wasn’t until I started to hear about the benefits of yoga for runners that I began to realize that yoga is not a one-size-fits-all activity.
As I grew to love running more and more, it seemed that there was little time left over each week for activities that didn’t involve pounding the pavement in my running shoes. But as my mileage increased, my injuries and overall aches and pains seemed to appear more and more frequently.
It wasn’t until training for the New York City Marathon this past year when I really started to think twice about incorporating some sort of yoga in my training plan. I finally decided to give yoga a try, and dedicated Mondays to completing a yoga routine designed for runners.
It didn’t take long before I began to see the benefits. I started by incorporating some simple yoga poses, which conveniently took place after my long runs each week. These yoga poses quickly developed into a recovery yoga routine, one that I still swear by today – more than a full year later.
This recovery yoga routine has revitalized my running.
These yoga poses are perfect for runners; whether you choose to incorporate them into your post run routine or designate an entire day to completing the yoga sequence.
As my running hobby has matured, I’ve begun to see the benefits of maintaining a well-rounded training plan as opposed to simply piling on as many miles as possible. This recovery yoga routine is ideal for runners; it targets all of the major muscle groups in the legs, providing restoration for those tight muscles post run.
Try incorporating these restorative yoga poses once a week to speed up your recovery and ease sore muscles!
20 Minute Recovery Yoga Routine for Runners
Aim to hold each pose for 10 full breaths, or about 30 seconds. If you encounter an area that is particularly tight, hold that pose anywhere from 45 to 60 seconds. Transition slowly between each yoga pose, moving down on the exhale and up on the inhale.
As you enter downward dog, you may immediately notice that your hamstrings are tight. If this is the case, it can be beneficial to bend the knees slightly and really extend your tailbone towards the sky.
Be careful not to force your legs straight if you are experiencing any muscle tightness. Take your time with this pose, allowing your muscles to loosen a bit by straightening them gradually as they warm up.
In cobra position, it is important to send your chest forward and lengthen your arms. Be careful not to strain the neck as you look forward.
Half split is one of the less common yoga poses, but can be incredibly beneficial for runners as it provides an incredible hamstring stretch. As you extend one leg forward, sit back with your hips to accentuate the stretch. Reach your hands down your leg towards your foot as far as comfortable.
An essential yoga pose for runners, pigeon stretches the muscles in our glutes that desperately need attention post run. You can remain upright in pigeon position, or if it feels comfortable, bring your chest towards the floor any amount.
Another important yoga pose for runners, the low lunge really stretches out those hip flexors. To accentuate this stretch, feel free to lean back and extend your arms up towards the sky.
As you fold forward, you will notice a stretch in the top of your shoulders as well as the back of your legs. If you hamstrings or calves are feeling tight as you fall forward, feel free to bend the knees slightly and straighten your legs as the muscles warm up.
Toes pose is a popular yoga pose to use to prevent plantar fasciitis. Sit back on your heels and be sure to straighten all of your toes, including your pinky toe. If the stretch becomes too intense, you can lean forward slightly.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
The kneeling quad pose is sure to intensify the typical standing quad stretch. Be careful not to crank your neck as you reach backwards to grab your foot. If this pose is too intense at the beginning, you can leave your back foot on the ground, or lift it any amount that is comfortable.
Yoga has some amazing restorative benefits. Whether you incorporate these yoga poses individually throughout the week, or designate one day to complete the entire recovery yoga routine, your body and mind will thank you.
Take some time post run or after weekly long runs to flush out the lactic acid, relieve tired muscles, and encourage blood flow throughout your body. Even just a few minutes of recovery yoga each week can really enhance your running and help keep you injury free!