These poses will help to relieve tense muscles and stressed joints caused by running.
Whether you're a seasoned runner or trying to get through the ‘couch to 5 km’ app you’ll benefit from introducing yoga into your training regime. Finishing your run with some yoga poses will help to relieve tense muscles and stressed joints by providing length and opening to the areas that are shortened when running. That post-run tightness will begin to disappear and you may even experience greater mental clarity and breath control. Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies; this greater sense of awareness will take you from zero to Usain Bolt in no time!
Common complaints among runners are shin splints, knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome (aka tight hips, ankles and hamstrings). The following poses help to open and lengthen the muscles that are working to keep you going during your run…
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Downward dog acts as ‘homebase’ in your yoga practice and is the perfect pose to do every day. It provides a great stretch to the hamstrings and calves, lengthens the spine and relieves tension in the neck.
To come into the pose, start on your knees and stretch your arms out in front of you about shoulder distance apart. Ground down through your entire hand, especially focusing on the contact between the mat and your thumb and first finger, tuck your toes and press your hips up and back, keep your knees bent as much as possible to ensure your spine is elongated. Wrap your triceps under so that your upper back slightly rounds (protraction of your shoulders). Nod your head “yes” and “no” a few times to relieve tension in your neck. Keep pressing down into your thumb and first finger as you guide your sit bones back. You can peddle out your feet or find stillness, whatever your body calls for. Stay here for as long as feels comfortable.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
Say hello to your hips! This pose is a great post-run recovery as it lengthens the psoas muscle of the back leg whilst simultaneously increasing the external rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket on the front leg. Think of it as a two-for-one deal for happy hips.
To come into the pose, start in downward facing dog pick up your right leg and extend it straight behind you, then look forward and place your right knee behind your right wrist and your right ankle behind your left wrist. Allow your front shin to rest on the mat and be as perpendicular to your body as possible, don't worry if your right ankle isn't touching your left wrist, just be sure to flex your right foot to protect your knee. Lengthen your back left leg out behind you with your left toes untucked, use a blanket or folded mat under your knee to reduce pressure on the kneecap.. If your right hip has lifted up off the floor quite a lot, try placing the rolled edge of a blanket or pillow underneath the hip. Slowly fold forward over your front shin and either rest your head on the floor or use your folded arms or pillow to support your head. Stay here for 2-5 minutes before moving to the other side.
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
This poses creates length for your hamstrings and inner thighs. It also has the added bonus of allowing your to expand laterally (to the side) which is perfect for runners as they tend to move solely in the sagittal (vertical) plane. This pose can be strong for some people so remember to listen to your body and modify as necessary.
Begin standing at the front of your mat. Step your left foot back about 1 meter and place it on a 90 degree angle, if this doesn’t feel so great on your hips a 45 degree angle also works. Turn your right foot forward to the front of your mat and align your right heel with the middle arch of your back left foot If your hips need some extra space then allow your feet to be more in the line of “train tracks” rather than a “tightrope”.. There are many ways to enter this pose, always find the option that feels the best for your body. You can choose to keep your left hip open (externally rotated) or you can roll the left hip forward (this is a great option if you have any S.I. joint injuries or extremely tight hips). Extend your arms out beside your body and begin to reach forward with your right hand, then tilt over from your hips and place your right hand on a block or press the back of the palm to the inner right shin or ankle. Always check that you are staying active in your front leg. Press into the big toe, draw your kneecap back up towards your face and imagine that you are trying to lift your heel. This will keep your leg active and avoid dumping into the joints. Extend your left arm up, stacking your shoulders and look to your left hand or, if this creates tension in your neck, look down at your right foot. Stay for 5 breaths and then slowly move to the other side.
This is a great pose to lengthen the hips, hamstrings and quad muscles. It also opens your shoulders and chest.
To come into the pose, lunge your right foot forward stacking your knee over your ankle and bring both hands inside your right foot. Lengthen your left leg out behind you. You can stay here in the dragon lunge or if you want to go further roll to the blade end of your right foot and open your knee out to the side. Plant your left hand down and reach back with your right arm to hold the inside of your right foot. Kick your food back into your hand and open up your shoulders and chest. Stay here for 5-10 breaths before moving to the other side.
Emma Maidment is a yoga teacher, writer and a communications and marketing consultant specialising in health and wellness. You can follow her adventures on Instagram (@em_mermaid) or connect via emmamaidment.com.
February 15, 20171:36pm