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  • Writer's pictureshannonkyeager

Yoga Poses for Better Performance and Recovery After Runs

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Running can cause tight hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes and calves. These yoga poses will stretch tight muscles and strengthen the surrounding areas to prevent injuries, recover faster and improve performance.



I’ve always been inspired by my dad’s passion for running. He could run a marathon in under 2 hours and 17 minutes, qualified for the Olympic Trials in 1988 and 1992 and has held high school records in Michigan for 50 years. Although I didn’t inherit his natural talent, I still enjoy running as a way to clear my mind and challenge my body. For me, running is a type of meditation that allows me to listen to my breath and build mental fortitude.


One of the things I learned at a young age watching my dad train is the importance of taking care of my body before and after a run. Stretching and rest days are crucial for recovery and reaching peak performance, whether you run consistently or are just starting out. Running places a greater load on the hamstrings. The hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes and calves also work harder, causing these muscles to become tight. Doing yoga consistently can help stretch and lengthen tight muscles, improve mobility, strengthen weak muscles and make breathing more efficient for faster recovery.


Last week, I got on the AlterG treadmill at SDRI after many months. Once I finished, I noticed my hip flexors (especially my psoas) and hamstrings were tight. I took time to stretch after the run and I immediately felt more space and comfort. With approval from your doctor, give these poses a try after your next run.



I’ve outlined each pose from the video below so you can practice them individually.


Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Kneel on the floor and touch your big toes together

  • Sit your hips back toward your heels

  • Reach your arms forward

  • Rest your forehead on the mat

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths


Table Top (Bharmanasana) With Extended Leg

  • Come onto your hands and knees. Align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees

  • Extend your right leg behind you and tuck your toes

  • Gently rock forward and back to stretch the back of your leg

  • Return to all fours in a table top position (bharmanasana)

  • Repeat on the other side


Down Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

  • From table top (bharmanasana), spread your fingers wide, making an “L shape” with your thumb and index finger

  • Walk your feet back a few inches and tuck your toes

  • Lift your hips toward the ceiling. You can keep your knees slightly bent to avoid straining your hamstrings. It’s okay if your heels do not touch the mat

  • Lengthen your spine

  • Release tension in your neck

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths


Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

  • From downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), bend your knees, look forward and step to the top of your mat

  • Plant your feet hip distance apart with your toes facing forward

  • Shift two-thirds of your weight toward the balls of your feet, without letting your heels lift

  • Keep your knees bent to avoid straining your hamstrings

  • You can place your hands on blocks or rest your fingertips on the ground

  • Let your head hang heavy to release tension in your neck

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths


Runner’s Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

  • From forward fold (uttanasana), step your left leg behind you with the toes tucked

  • Lift your heel over your ankle and keep your back knee off the mat

  • Squeeze your inner thighs together to engage your legs

  • Plant your palms on the mat framing your front foot

  • Broaden through your chest and keep your neck in a neutral position

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths

  • Return to forward fold (uttanasana)

  • Repeat on the second side


Low Lunge Variations (Anjaneyasana)

  • Begin in runner’s lunge with the right leg in front (utthita ashwa sanchalanasana)

  • Lower your back knee down and press your shin into the mat. You can fold over the side of your mat or use a towel underneath your knee for extra padding

  • Inhale and lift your torso up

  • Reach your arms up over your head. Slide your shoulders down your back

  • Hug your ribs in

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths

  • Side bend variation:

    • Rest your right forearm on your right thigh

    • Reach your left arm up and over your head to deepen the stretch in the left hip flexor

    • Stay in the pose for 3 breaths

    • Return to center

  • Twisting variation:

    • Walk your left hand to the center of your mat

    • Begin to twist to the right

    • Reach your right arm up

    • If you would like a quad stretch, bend your left knee and gently grab your left foot with your right hand

    • Stay in the pose for 3 breaths

    • Return to center

  • Step to forward fold (uttanasana)

  • Switch legs by stepping your right leg back so your left leg is in front

  • Repeat on the other side


Half Splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

  • From a low lunge position (anjaneyasana), place your finger tips on blocks or on the mat framing your foot

  • Shift your weight back and begin straightening your front leg

  • Hinge forward from your hip to deepen the stretch

  • Flex your front foot and point your toes toward the ceiling

  • Align your neck with the rest of your spine

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths

  • Re-bend your front knee returning to a low lunge position (anjaneyasana)

  • Switch legs and repeat on the other side


Standing Figure 4 (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

  • Start standing in mountain pose (tadasana)

  • Hug your right knee into your chest

  • Cross your right shin over your left thigh making a figure 4 shape

  • Flex your right foot to protect your knee

  • Sit your hips back to deepen the stretch

  • Bring your hands in a prayer position at your heart

  • Broaden your collar bones and lengthen through your chest

  • Engage your core and hug your muscles in toward the midline of your body

  • You can choose a spot in front of your mat that is not moving to focus your gaze on

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths

  • Return to mountain pose (tadasana)

  • Repeat on the other side


Garland/Squat Pose (Malasana)

  • From mountain pose (tadasana), step your feet to the edges of your mat

  • Turn your toes out slightly

  • Gently lower into a squat

  • Keep your heels on the mat if possible

  • Bring your hands to your heart in a prayer position

  • Press your elbows into your inner thighs

  • Broaden your collar bones and lengthen through your chest to avoid rounding your spine

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths


Half Pigeon/Sleeping Pigeon (Ardha Kapotasana)

  • Begin in downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)

  • Lift your right leg up and keep your hips square

  • Bend your right knee, shift forward and move your right knee toward your right wrist

  • Lay the lower part of your leg on the mat with your right heel somewhere in front of your left hip. Find a comfortable position between a 45 degree and 90 degree angle

  • Extend your left leg straight back behind you. Rest the top of your foot on the mat

  • Inhale, lengthen your spine and lift up from your chest

  • Exhale and walk your hands forward. You can rest on your forearms or lay your forehead on the mat

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths

  • Plant your palms on the mat and lift your chest up

  • Move your front leg back and return to downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)

  • Repeat on the second side


If you are experiencing sharp pain, burning or a tearing sensation in your hips, hamstrings or lower back, I recommend seeing a doctor or physical therapist before trying these yoga poses.


The most important thing you can do is listen to your body to prevent injuries and recover from a workout. Remember to give yourself space and time to stretch tight muscles. If you found these poses helpful, share this post with your fellow runners. You can send me a message in the contact form on the home page if you’d like to do yoga together virtually or in person after your next run.


With gratitude,

Shannon



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