I have always loved running. But my body hasn’t. As an elite athlete turned competitive runner, I struggled with my mobility and often dealt with knee pain. It was my discovery of yoga that finally allowed my body to run the distances I craved and recover with grace. As runners, we put so much strain on our hips. That can lead to tightness, cause tension on the tendons above and below the hips and intensify issues from your neck to your feet. Add these movements and postures before and after your run and your body will thank you.
Standing Figure Four is a great way to open your hips while improving overall balance and stability.
1. Toe Stretch // Camel // Child’s pose
A. Toe Stretch
Keep knees and feet hip distance apart, toes tucked and sit back on heels. Lean forward if this is too intense. Relax shoulders, stretch up through spine. Over time, you will build more mobility in your toes and arches.
Bring hips above knees. Lift your shoulders up and back. Hug shoulder blades together as you bring your hands where back pockets would be. Lift chest up, lengthening front of body. Focus on puffing heart up versus leaning back.
C. Child’s Pose
Keep knees hip distance apart, toes touching, fold forward and stretch hands wide.
2. Anjanayasana // Half hanuman
In a low lunge position with back knee down (keep back toes tucked and push down through toes to alleviate pressure on knee). Tip weight forward to get deeper stretch in hip flexor. Front knee can be over toes, but not past.
Keep bum above back knee and tip tailbone up. Front heel rooted and toes stretch up. Can walk both hands to outside of extended leg to find more of an IT band and side stretch.
3. Knee to chest // Low lunge with twist
A. Knee to Chest
Stand tall with knee as close to your chest as possible without hunching forward.
B. Low Lunge
Slowly step forward into a lunge touching fingertips to the ground on both sides of your foot. With knee above ankle, lengthen through your spine. Keep opposite hand (to front foot) on the ground, inhale to lift other hand to the sky and twist, stacking shoulders before bringing the other hand up.
Here are 3 static yoga poses for after running:
Hands at heart, push palms together to keep expansion across chest and shoulders away from ears. Heels are hip distance, toes out to 45 degrees. Knees stay out wide as bum lowers between heels.
Start in down dog or plank. Bring knee to the outside of the same-side wrist. Your front foot comes across your chest to the opposite wrist (If you have tight hips, your foot may stay tucked under body). Back foot stretched straight back with top of foot on floor. Lengthen through spine with an inhale and fold forward with your exhale. Pull back a bit rather than fully releasing to ensure you get the most from this intense stretch. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Step one foot ahead of the other, with back foot to a 45-degree angle – root down the pinky toes for better stability. Hips and heart face forward. Reach arms up with an inhale and behind your back with an exhale. Interlock fingers, shoulders back and heart puffs up with inhale. Exhale, fold forward, nose towards your knee. Stop before one hip juts to the side or back curves.
*Option: Hands down on floor or on blocks, framing front foot, instead of behind your back.
Apparel: Sweat Society Tank, Inner Fire Leggings, Lululemon Athletica Power Y Tank, Luxtreme Crops. Photos taken at Liv Yoga & Wellness.