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8 Stretches for Runners

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

No surprise that running is hard on your body. Studies have shown that the effects of yoga asana can not only help with your performance but lower a runner's risk of injury. Runners overuse muscles in repetitive ways. This can lead to tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Leaving knees and hips at risk for pain, or even worse, injury.

These go-to shapes are for all levels of runners, whether you have done yoga before or not. They can be done on their own or as part of a full yoga practice. Use them to help keep your hardworking body more balanced and healthier.

Reclining Bow Pose-When the flexibility in the quads is challenged, we leave ourselves open to knee and hamstring injuries. This pose helps to stretch the quadriceps, without having to balance on one leg.

On the ground, lie on one side stacking hips and legs. Extend your lower arm long to use to support your head and neck. Bend your upper leg and reach for your foot, ankle, or pant leg, with your upper hand. Breathe while you draw the foot toward your bottom, being careful to keep your leg parallel to the group. Stay for a couple of breaths then release. Roll to your other side and repeat.

Locust Pose-Locust pose is a great back strengthener. Since we are keeping the feet on the ground, it allows the glutes to not get engaged, keeping your attention on your back.

From your belly with your forehead on the ground and pelvis anchored, Inhale and raise the chest and head away from the earth, extending arms behind and parallel to your body, perhaps interlacing fingers. Keep pelvis, legs, and feet secured to the ground, drawing shoulder blades closer together. Don't forget to breathe.

Hero Pose- We don't give enough attention to our ankles and shins. The Tibialis Anterior Muscle helps to lift the foot and flex the ankle when running. Tight TA Muscles make it difficult to push off of the ground when we are in motion. Stretching this muscle may also help prevent dreaded shin splints.

From a low kneeling position, with a block under your bottom enough so that you do not feel strain in your hips or knees, tuck the toes of one foot under to stretch the TA muscle. Breathe and hold for a few breath cycles. Repeat on the other foot. As you practice this pose, you may be able to lower or eliminate the use of the block and sit back on your foot.

Downward-Facing Dog-Among the benefits of it being an inversion, Downward-Facing Dog energizes and rejuvenates the entire body. It deeply stretches hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs.

Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists just ahead of your shoulders, fingers spread wide, and your knees directly under your hips. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, keeping your knees soft. Bring your body into the shape of an "A." Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled back from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.

High Lunge with Cactus Arms-This posture tones the core, opens the hip flexors, lengthens the side body and obliques, improves balance and posture, and strengthens the calves, shins, and quadricep. Adding cactus arms helps to counter the rounding of the upper back and shoulders created when we run.

From Downward Facing Dog, step one foot forward between your hands and raise the torso up. Keep your front knee from moving ahead of the front foot to keep the knee safe and keep your hips squared forward

and down. Raise arms, lowering elbows to be in line with your shoulders and back far enough that they are not visible in your peripheral vision. Hold for several breaths. Return to Downward Facing Dog to switch sides.

Pyramid with Three Blocks-The calves and ankles are some of the most under-addressed parts of the body when it comes to stretching. The calves are responsible for pushing off every time you take a step and they reduce the impact as you land. This stretch can also lengthen the hamstrings.

From high lunge, shorten your stance so the outer heel of your back foot can ground down. Place a block under the ball of your front foot, balancing on the back heel. Place a block on either side of your front foot. Exhale to come forward and put your hands on the blocks. Keep the front knee soft, so you don’t overextend it. The deeper your forward fold, the deeper the stretch in your front calf muscle. Breath here for a few rounds. Don’t forget to do the other side.

Come back to Downward Facing Dog then lower to your knees to the ground, to bring yourself down to the earth.

Reclining Pigeon Pose-The gluteal muscles are strong hip extensors, giving you the power to propel forward as you run. They also help to absorb the shock when you land. It is no secret that these muscles tighten and fatigue easily due to the repetitive nature of running. This pose allows your body to relax while taking the strain off of your knees so you can focus on the hip and glute stretch.

From your back, bring your knees to your chest, and cross the

right ankle above the left knee, creating a figure-four shape. Press your right knee away from your chest, keeping your right foot dorsiflexed. Hold here for 3-5 breath cycles or longer. Release and repeat on the other side.

Reclining Pigeon Twist-Runners have notorio

usly tight IT bands, which can lead to imbalances and induce knee or hip injury. This pose stretches the glutes, outer hips, and IT bands, and also lengthens the low back.

From Reclining Pigeon, keep the right ankle above the left knee, and let the left hip rotate out to the side until your right foot meets the ground. If it doesn’t make it all the way there, put a block under the right foot. You can even turn your head to the right to add a slight element of a twist. Breath and don't forget to change sides.

The strength and endurance we gain from running can be complemented by the flexibility and resilience of yoga.

Contact us to learn more and to claim a complimentary consultation and session.

Hilary Bass RYT 500 Private & Corporate Yoga and Meditation Teacher Innergy Corporate Yoga Inc.

Innergize YOUR Workplace

Direct: 520-231-6264

Schedule a complimentary consultation at

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