Running is one of the most effective, affordable and convenient ways to work out. But it can also take a brutal toll on the body. Runners often show up to yoga suffering from injuries and pain. Some can be so tight that it takes months – and, in extreme cases, even years – to develop a normal range of flexibility.
Fortunately, nearly all running injuries can be alleviated and even prevented with yoga. If you love running, invest the time to practice yoga as well so you can be the best runner you can be – for life.
The Best Yoga Pose for Tight Hamstrings: Pyramid
Running strengthens or tightens your hamstrings. This can lead to a limited range of motion and awkward, inefficient running technique. Practice pyramid pose to stretch all your hamstrings evenly, clear knee and low back pain, and run more fluidly.
To get into pyramid pose, stand with your right foot forward and step your left foot back about 3.5 feet. Spin your back heel to the floor and angle your back foot toward the front left corner of your mat. Square your hips to the front, bow over your front leg and place both hands next to your feet on the floor or on blocks. Work your legs straight to stretch your hamstrings. Hold for five breathes and switch sides.
The Best Yoga Pose for Runner’s Knee: Lizard Lunge
Almost every runner has tight hips, which creates extra pressure on the knees. Lizard lunge opens your hips, which allows you to engage your legs more evenly. It also teaches you how to engage your feet to protect your knees while you’re running and prevents achy knees after you run.
To practice lizard lunge, begin in down dog. Then, step your right foot to the outside of your right hand and lower your back knee to the floor. Angle your right foot at a diagonal to the right and make sure your knee points over your foot. Roll onto the outer edge of your right foot and make sure your knee rotates out at the same rate as your foot. Engage your right foot and, without moving it, pull it back toward the wall behind you. Only as much as your right knee doesn’t buckle in and your right foot doesn’t become misaligned, bend your elbows and lower onto your forearms. Hold for five breaths and move to the left side.
The Best Yoga Pose for Shin Splints: Foot Stretch
OK, so this isn’t an official yoga pose, per se, but this simple and effective posture stretches both your feet and shins. It can be used both to recover from and prevent shin splints.
Simply sit back on your calves with your toes tucked and feet vertical. Rest your hands on your thighs, sit tall and take 10 full breaths. Make sure your ankles do not turn to the side.
The Best Yoga Pose for Low Back Pain: Twisted Down Dog
Even the most mindful athletes can become misaligned. Runners tend to push themselves to the point that small discrepancies in their form over the course of many runs lead to debilitating back pain. Twisted down dog releases both sides of your low and mid back while your pelvis is tilted in a neutral position.
To practice twisted down dog, begin in down dog with your feet inner hips-width apart. Then, bend your right knee and turn both heels right, then left, until your left heel is rooted. Swing your right leg in front of your left. Flatten your hands, lift up your hips and sway your hips to the right. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
The Best Yoga Pose for IT Band Syndrome: Brigid’s Cross
IT bands run down the outside of your legs, from your hips down to your knees. When you run without stretching, overuse tightens them and creates torque on your knees. Brigid’s cross is a pose that provides stability while opening the IT band.
Start in down dog, bring your right knee toward your chest and swing your right leg across your body toward the wall to your left. Lower your left leg and hip down to the floor. Make a 90-degree angle with your legs and straighten your legs. Square your shoulders and come onto your forearms. Without moving your forearms, pull them toward you to set your chest forward. Roll the outer seam of your bottom leg under you gradually. Take 10 breathes and switch sides.
The 5 Best Yoga Poses for Injured Runners was originally published on U.S. Health News & World Report.
Article written by Jake Panasevich, US News. Practice with Jake Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30am and Wednesdays at 5pm. Register here!
Jake is a yoga teacher in Philly specializing in yoga for men and office workers. He is also a yoga trainer for professional athletes. Listen to Jake’s recent interview on NPR. You could also learn more about Jake in his featured articles in Men’s Health, Huffington Post and US News. Visit Jake’s website at yogawithjake.com.