Find a spot on a yoga mat, the grass or your carpet and stretch out in these three poses tonight. You’ll feel better afterward, and your running will benefit.
Runners are prone to tightness–tight hips, hamstring and quad muscles are common complaints. Yoga as a complementary practice to running can both ease the tightness and add strength to those areas. It can also boost balance, improve flexibility (reducing injury) and help to build core and glute muscles, making you a better runner.
This deep hip-opening stretch targets the psoas and hip flexors. To bring your body into the pose, sit on your mat and send your left leg out behind you. Pull your right shin so it’s parallel to the front of the mat, flexing your right foot. If this is challenging, take your foot away from your body to ease off; for a deeper stretch, bring that right foot in close.
Work on keeping your hips square as you relax them. You can use your hands to support you in and stay in the upright version of this posture, or take it into a deeper stretch by lowering onto your forearms. Use props (a block, a pillow or a stack of books works) if you feel you need some support. Hold for one to three minutes (longer is great) and then switch legs.
Happy baby stretch
Happy baby is a reclined yoga pose that helps open hips and release a tight lower back, glutes and groin, all of which stabilize the body during running and can become sore.
Begin by lying on your back on the mat, hugging your knees into your belly. Use your hands to grip the outside of your feet (ankles work too, if that is more accessible), pulling your knees into your armpits, while keeping your feet flexed. Hold your body here, and as you soften into the stretch, continue to pull your knees into your armpits, pushing back with your legs. You can even rock gently back and forth here to give your lower back a gentle massage. Hold for three minutes (longer is great) and release gently.
Downward dog pose
Downward dog is ideal for stretching out your entire body: this pose stretches your calf and hamstring muscles, right through to the arches of your feet. This feel-good pose also works to lengthen your spine and open your shoulders.
Begin on your mat on your hands and knees, with knees directly under your hips. Spread your fingers and push into your palms as you lift your tailbone to the ceiling, working to straighten your legs. Here, you can pedal your feet to work deeper into your calf muscles or move your hips and shoulders. Do what feels good in your body, finding the stretch that works for you.
You can keep your knees bent, or drop them to the floor at any time–the goal with downward dog is not to get your heels to touch the floor, but to keep length in your body. Stay in your downward dog stretch for a minute or two, then take a relaxed position on your mat. Repeat when you’re ready.