With all of the great feedback we received from out post a while back (Yoga Poses for runners #1) sharing some of our favourite yoga poses that we thought runners everywhere should try, we thought it was time for round two. This time we’re focusing on the upper legs and hips for the first three, then going to turn a bit of attention to your shoulders and back muscles, which so many of us accidentally neglect from time to time. So whether you run 5k’s all year and can’t get enough of them, or you’re taking on an ultra marathon of unimaginable difficulty, these could help you stay loose and free from injury!
***Before you get cracking though, always remember WHEN and HOW you stretch is important. Make sure you’re muscles are a bit warm (couple sun salutations or 10 minute jog can always help with that!) and try to avoid static stretches before any kind of workout.***
#1 – Gomukasana – Cow Face Pose
Absolutely no idea where that name came from, but this one can be magic for some people. Start from a seated position with legs outstretched, cross your right foot over your left leg and tuck it back near your left butt cheek. Sitting up nice and tall, allow your knee to fall forward. This may be enough for you (it was when we started doing it;)) or you can go a bit further. Keeping your right leg where it is, draw your left foot towards your right butt cheek and allow the left knee to lay on the floor. Check in to make sure your right knee is stacking right over the left AND that both of your sitting bones are on the ground. (If one is lifting off the ground try sitting on a block)
This is the basic posture, but feel free to play from this position to suit your needs; folding forward, fanning your feet out to the side away from your body, whatever feels right! This is great for people with tight hips and people prone to pains along their IT bands. Make sure to do both sides, and sit in this one for as long as you can comfortably, these muscle groups take a while to let go.
#2 – Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby
Happy baby, how can this pose NOT feel amazing!:) So start off laying on your back and draw your knees up to your chest. Spread your knees apart and reach your arms IN BETWEEN your knees to take hold of your feet along the inside of the foot, the outside of the foot, or the big toe. Now rise your feet up to shine the soles of your feet to the sky. Maybe you get there, maybe not, thats just where we’re moving towards.
Alignment check in –> Has your lower back lifted off the ground? Try to press it back down and keep the whole spine long and in contact with the ground. If your feet are facing up to the sky, then next step is to draw your knees down towards your armpits. For runners, you might always want to take some time to try straightening one leg at a time, your hamstrings will likely have a love/hate relationship with you during this one so take it slow;)
Find an empty space on a wall or in front of a chair/couch (if you know your quads are super tight the ladder tends to be a little gentler). Start on your hands and knees and slide back towards the wall as close as you can. Draw your right heel up to your butt and slide the right knee closer to the wall (eventually we want the knee touching the wall, but start about 6 inches away and move closer from there). Next step, step your left foot forward so its flat on the floor just outside your left hand. (ps. don’t worry we aren’t graceful making that move either;)) You might be feeling this in your quad or hip already, if so take some time here to let things lengthen. If you want a little more then bring your hands onto your left knee and slowly rise the chest to end up in a lunge looking position.
Once you’re this far, you have two options to focus this stretch a bit more. A) Pressing your hips and shoulders back towards the wall behind you will target the stretch along the quad. B) Allowing the hips to draw forward and down to the floor will target the stretch deep into the hip flexors. Some people might even get more into the hip by keeping their hands on the floor and sinking the hips low.
#4 – Garudasana – Eagle Arms
**If you want full Garudasana, google it, we’re only focusing on the arms**
Anyone out there where a pack? Ever feel like a 70 year old getting out of bed when you take that thing off after a long run? How about stage racers, how heavy was your pack last race? I think you’re getting the point, runners’ shoulders can get pretty tight and we rarely pay attention to them. Truth is, tight muscles in and around the shoulders, chest and back can restrict the expansion of your ribs and therefore your breath as well.
Eagle arms can be done standing up straight, sitting up straight, in a wide legged forward fold, and even at your desk or in your car!!!
This one is simple, take your right arm and swing it under your left (imagine stacking the centre of your humorous bones), and interlace your forearms as your point them up to the sky. You may only be able to connect the backs of your hands together, or you might have no problem bringing your palms to touch. Where ever your are, keep the elbows lifted to shoulder height, and when that begins to feel comfortable, try pressing your forearms away from your face. Hold this one for 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat on your other side!
If you have any questions or comments on these postures feel free to comment below, or send us an email at [email protected] If you’ve found these postures helpful, we’d love for you to share them with your run groups!!:)