I believe running is one of the best form of exercises you can do for the body. It’s natural, it’s free and you can do it almost anywhere. It’s the perfect exercise to take on holidays and to explore a new city. But a lot of runners don’t do the appropriate stretches post run which is where they can find themselves with lots of injuries. This is where yoga for runners comes in handy.
I’ve always been a bit of a runner, nothing too serious or too long in length, but I’ve always enjoyed a good run. I’ve competed in a few fun runs in Sydney – a 5km, 10km and 14km. But anything over the 10km and my body starts to hurt bad.
So along with my other Flybery women, we are all competing in the London half marathon that is coming up in March. I don’t plan to run my heart out, I just plan to just finish the race with a smile on my face, and my favourite cheerleaders by my side.
Yesterday I started my official training plan. I’m using some tips from Adrienne’s Half Marathon trainingplan and also the Nike Running Club app. I don’t feel too sore today as I finished off my run with these yoga stretches for runners. I’ve broken each one down so you can try them at home.
Hold each yoga stretch for 5-10 breaths or as long as you want. Make your inhales long and your exhales longer, sinking deeper into the poses on the exhale.
The perfect pose to slow the heart down and bring the body into rest mode. Spread your knees wide, toes together, lengthening out your arms in front of you allowing your chest to sink towards the ground. Rest your forehead on the ground or mat, and roll slowly from left to right giving yourself a little head massage. So so good.
I love this yoga stretch for runners as it really gets into the hip flexors and is great to open up the spine and chest. Once in the lunge, raise your hands into the air and concentrate on lightly pushing the hips forward and opening the chest. Magic! Swap the legs and complete the stretch on the other side.
From a low lunge, slowly straighten the back leg lifting the knee off the ground. Place the hand opposite to the front leg and slowly twist the spine raising the other hand to the sky. Stack the shoulders on top of each other, keep the heart open and gaze up towards the sky. On the inhale, elongate the spine and on the exhale take the twist slightly deeper. Use a yoga block or book to help support the lower hand. Repeat on the other side.
This yoga stretch is wonderful for the hamstrings. From your low lunge, frame your front foot with your hands on the ground then press your hips toward the back of the room, hinging your body over your front leg. To increase the stretch, flex the foot toward the sky. Swap the legs and complete the stretch on the other side.
Spread your feet apart, almost as wide as your mat, or when you can feel a gentle stretch. Straighten the legs, and tip forward to place your hands on the ground between your feet. If your hands don’t reach the ground, don’t worry, hang forward or place a yoga block (or a book) beneath the hands. Sometimes holding onto your opposite elbows with your hands and hanging in the air is as much as you need.
Start by placing one leg forward, and the other behind you, angling the back foot out to a 45 degrees angle. Place your hands on your hips, and straighten the leg that is in front. Square your hips so that the hip bones are parallel to the front of the room. Inhale and lengthen the torso, exhale, and fold your torso over your leg. Always keep your hips square to the floor. When your torso is parallel to the floor, stop bending. In this position, your right hip will tend to pull forward. Make sure it is drawn back and is always in line with the left hip. If you have been doing this pose regularly or you find yourself flexible enough, you can fold deeply towards the front leg and reach your fingertips to the floor. To come out of the pose, gently place your hands on your hips and on an inhale slowly come back up to standing. Repeat the pose with the other leg in front.
One of my all time favourite yoga poses, this forward fold stretch is great for runners. Start my sitting up on the ground, legs extended in front of you. Inhale reach your arms up to the sky, exhale folding at the hips slowly bend over the straightened legs. Make sure your feet are flexed. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch your feet. Wherever they reach, stay there. On an inhale lengthen the body, and exhale release further into the pose. Inhale to come all the way back out. You can really see your progress when dedicating some time in this pose.
Last but not least, this yoga stretch is a little more advanced and may take a few months before it becomes comfortable. Sit on the ground kneeling with the knees kept close together. Your legs are bent and your buttocks is resting on the lower legs and heels. Make sure you toes are touching each other. Once you feel comfortable, slowly bend backwards, supporting the body weight using your arms and elbows, till the back of the head touches the ground. I didn’t make it to the full variation of the pose as I didn’t want to get my hair full of sand. I also stopped when I felt the stretch was strong enough for my body. Breathe normally and deeply to relax into the pose. To release, raise the body to the starting position on an inhale and then release the legs.
You don’t need to spend an hour on the yoga mat. You don’t even need a yoga mat. But for people with tight hips and legs, these yoga stretches for runners can be a game-changer. Try to add these yoga stretches after each run and you will definiately notice the difference.
What’s your favourite post run yoga stretch?
These running pieces are both Sweaty Betty from the online sportswear shop Flybery. I loved wearing these shorts as they have some stretch in the material allowing for my post run yoga sessions. They also had a pocket on the reverse large enough to squeeze my iphone 6 and some money for a coffee. I also love the style of this sports bra from Sweaty Betty. It has a little more extra material which made me feel more comfortable running on the beach. I’d go down a size for more support.