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The Best Yoga Moves For Runners

These Are the Four Moves Runners Absolutely Must Steal From Yoga

best yoga moves for runners

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I get running goggles. I can get so focused on my running goals — and the miles I will have to log to achieve them — that the thought incorporating any other workouts into the mix seems crazy. But as any athlete knows, success in your sport doesn't just mean you train for your sport and only your sport. There's conditioning, strength training, cross training, stretching, etc. And yet, even though my brain knows this, I still find it hard to remove myself from the one-track mindset and weave in other sports into my training routine.

However, as of late I've been living in my all-day leggings like UA's Meridian Crop ($60) and turning to yoga on my off days to try to improve my own flexibility and stability. And as it turns out, I'm right to do so. According to Travis Eliot, E-RYT 500 yoga and meditation teacher and co-founder of Inner Dimension TV, runners can drastically increase their performance with as little as three 30-minute yoga sessions per week. As a runner himself, he emphasizes the benefits of a yoga. "Running is highly repetitive and places a heavy load on the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves," he explains. Without a yoga stretching routine, these muscles become excessively tight, and you begin to lose mobility and full range of motion."

What's more, Eliot notes if the body loses too much performance-level mobility, it can become less efficient and even require more energy expenditure when exercising, thus decreasing stamina and athletic performance. And if runners aren't too careful, injury could occur. With that in my back pocket, I asked Eliot for the must-try yoga moves every runner needs to actually incorporate into their routine. These four moves are all geared toward working runners' posterior muscle groups and can be done as a flow or as individual movements.

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Dragon Pose: stretches the psoas (hip muscles), hip flexors, and quadriceps.

Hold the stretch for one to three minutes.

  • Begin on all fours and step the right foot forward. Allow the back left knee to rest on the mat.
  • Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot.
  • Bend both elbows, allowing the torso to drop towards the floor.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Half Frog Pose: stretches the quadriceps.

Hold the stretch for one minute.

  • Begin on the belly and slide the forearms forward, aligning the elbows directly under the shoulders so you're supported up.
  • Reach back with the right hand and grab the right foot.
  • Gently pull the right foot towards the outer right glute and hold.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Squat: stretches the hips, knees, and ankles and strengthens the calves.

Hold the stretch for one minute.

  • Begin in a standing Forward Bend.
  • Spread the feet wider than the hips and turn the toes out. Bend the knees and squat down.
  • Bring the hands together in prayer and press the elbows into the knees. Lift the chest up away from the hips. Relax the shoulders away from the ears and hold.

For the slightly more advanced:

Sun Salutations B: targets the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and spine.

Repeat this sequence three to five times before your run as full body warm up or on its own for active recovery.

  • Start standing with hands at prayer position in Mountain Pose. Bend the knees and lift the arms up into Chair Pose.
  • Relax the torso toward the floor into Forward Bend. Slide the hands up to the shins and lengthen the chest out into a Half Flat Back.
  • Set the hands to the floor and step the feet back to Plank Pose. Lower onto your stomach into a Cobra Pose.
  • Lift the hips up into Down Dog then lift the right leg up. Step the right foot to the top of the mat and spin the back left foot flat to the floor while raising both arms up above into Warrior 1.
  • Lower the hands to the floor and step the right foot back to Plank Pose. Lower onto your stomach into a Cobra Pose.
  • Lift the hips up into Down Dog, then lift the left leg up. Step the left foot to the top of the mat and spin the back right foot flat to the floor while raising both arms up above into Warrior 1.
  • Lower the hands to the floor and step the right foot back to Plank Pose. Lower onto your stomach into a Cobra Pose.
  • Lift the hips up into Down Dog and step both feet to the top of the mat. Slide the hands up to the shins and lengthen the chest out into a Half Flat Back.
  • Return to Forward Bend and bend the knees and lift the arms up back into Chair Pose.
  • Stand up and return the hands to prayer position in Mountain Pose.
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