4 Yoga Poses Every Runner Should be Doing

WomanRunningOutdoors

About 40 percent of running injuries are knee injuries. Often the culprit: weak quads, hips, or glute muscles.

Whether you’re running the New York City Marathon or just love to run around your local park (or on the treadmill), add yoga to your workout mix to gain flexibility and help prevent back and knee injuries.

Sure, you probably feel great—and feel strong and healthy. But the truth is, you probably have muscular imbalances (this is common in even the fittest of athletes). What this means, your stronger muscles are overcompensating for weak muscles you may not be using when you run.

These muscular imbalances put the wrong kind of pressure on the joints, which can trigger injury, explains Brad Jones, a former U.S. Olympic physical therapist and strength conditioning coach (and founder of b Project), in Carlsbad, California.

Runners are also prone to injury, particularly in the knees, because running is a high-impact activity that gives your joints a pounding, says Manhattan-based physical medicine and rehab specialist Nadya Swedan, M.D., author of The Active Woman’s Health and Fitness Handbook. Runner’s muscles are also tight and short (and inflexible)—why yoga is the perfect balance to elongate and loosen the muscles.

We got a chance to talk to Kiley Holliday, a yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, in New York City, who recommends these four yoga poses for runners*. (She helps runners get ready for the New York City Marathon—and teaches a 6-week New York Road Runners (NYRR) Yoga for Runners series, in New York.) Something to keep in mind when it comes to yoga: never force yourself into a pose; stop when your body is telling you to stop. “Respect your body,” as my own yoga instructor, Elaine Coburn, tells our class.

YogaHalfSplits

Also called a Runner's Lunge, this pose stretches the thigh, hamstring, and groin muscles.

HALF SPLITS (WITH IT BAND STRETCH)
1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes. Frame the right foot with the hands.
3. Begin to slowly walk the hands backwards while straightening the front leg. Stop when the left hip is directly in line over the left knee. Flex the right foot, and lean the torso forward while engaging the core.
4. Inch the right foot (while keeping the leg straight) towards the left side of the mat and roll onto the pinky toe edge of that foot. Walk the hands towards the right and look over the right shoulder.
5. If possible, bend the arms until the forearms are on the mat.
6. Repeat on the other leg.
Yoga'sLizardPose

Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins, and hip flexors—as well as the chest, shoulders, and neck.

LIZARD POSE (WITH QUAD STRETCH)

1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground. Then, step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle.

2. Drop the left knee onto the mat and untuck the toes. Then, inch the right foot towards the very edge of the mat, turn it out about 45 degrees and roll onto the pinky toe side of the foot.

3. Attempt to drop the forearms down on the ground inside the foot. If the forearms don’t reach, place a block underneath them. Try to get more of the top of the left thigh onto the mat.

4. Bend the left knee and reach for the outer edge of it with the right hand. It may be necessary to come off the forearms in order to reach the back foot.

YogaForRunnersLunge

To improve balance, rest the thigh of the forward leg (if necessary) on a chair seat.

BASIC CRESCENT LUNGE
1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes.
3. Bend the right knee and lean forward, attempting to melt the top of the left thigh onto the mat. However, don’t let the right knee come beyond the toes. Keep the hands on the top of the right thigh for stability, or engage the core and lift the arms into the air with the palms facing each other. Squeeze the butt to take pressure out of the lower back.
4. Repeat with the left foot forward.
YogaForRunnersPyramidPose

Do this pose, and you'll stretch your spine, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.

PYRAMID POSE
1. Begin in a low lunge with the right foot forward. The right knee should be directly in line over the ankle and the hands should frame the front foot.
2. Step the left foot in closer to the top of the mat, keep the hips square, and attempt to straighten the front leg. If the hamstring is too tight to straighten the leg completely with the hands on the ground, place yoga blocks under each hand. Pull the low belly in, allow the neck to relax, and imagine that the torso will begin to touch the right leg.
3. Repeat with the left foot forward.
* Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program as you could get injured.

 

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Valerie LatonaAbout Valerie Latona
As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it's not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older.