These easy yoga stretches for runners are what we like to do post-run, as well as a quick workout to do every day as a way to focusing on strength, stretching and flexibility particularly in the areas that tend to get worked hard when running – and especially trail running.
To be focused on the areas that get worked hard during our runs, these easy yoga stretches are concentrated on achieving flexibility and stretching in the hips, lower back, hamstrings, quads, calves, and ITB, and also provide the opportunity to stretch out your ankles, massage the bottom of your feet (Plantar Fascia) and upper body. Thank you to Lululemon for sponsoring this post and our video – all the gear you see us wearing, together with the yoga mats shown in the photos and videos, are from Lululemon, who are experts in quality yoga, workout and running gear (they’ve been designing apparel for yoga since 1998!).
I’ve specifically left out certain poses which are often mentioned as good yoga stretches for runners, because I’ve found that some yoga stretches described as being good for runners can be a bit too intense on areas such as my knees, hips and lower back. So these ‘easy yoga stretches for runners’ are those that I personally find to be relatively easy – both easy to do, and easy to remember.
We have included a YouTube video you can follow along to do these easy yoga stretches with us – it is designed so that you can bookmark it and play it back when you need a guide to follow, whether doing a post-workout stretch or as an everyday 10-minute flexibility routine – this way you can make sure you don’t miss any stretches out! I hope that it is helpful to see what these yoga stretches look like when we do them, as we are not yoga instructors, or particularly flexible – your typical trail runners! We’ll all get better with focus, attention, and repetition 😉
10 Easy Yoga Stretches for Runners – what you need
This home workout is easy to do with very little equipment needed. The essentials to make this a comfortable workout routine when you’re doing a lot of stretching are:
- A yoga mat
- Comfortable sweat-wicking clothing that is breathable and allows you to have full range of motion to accomplish each stretch
- A towel to dry off, especially if your hands and/or feet get sweaty and may slip on your mat
- A water bottle
If your running clothes are comfortable and allow for the necessary range of motion then you can wear running gear – this makes sense if you’re doing these stretches after a run. Alternatively, yoga or pilates clothing can work better, especially when it comes to leggings and sports bras, as you don’t need all the pockets, zippers and extra support that may be important for running but can get in the way for a good stretching session. Click here for details of the gear we’re wearing.
The yoga mats, towels and workout gear we are wearing in the photos and our video are all from Lululemon. I’ve been a customer of theirs since my first visit to Vancouver, Canada (where they are headquartered) more than 10 years ago – and some of my clothes still look and feel as good today as they did when I bought them years ago. There’s nothing quite like a pair of comfortable, flattering and durable yoga pants to make any workout more pleasurable, and they know all about that!
10 Easy Yoga Stretches For Runners in 10 minutes (or so)
This post-run yoga stretch routine takes us around 10 minutes to complete, assuming we spend around 1 minute on each pose. If a particular area feels tight and we need to spend more time on it, then we spend as long as we need to and feels good, even if it’s well over a minute. Also – I tend to move around a lot while in these poses, to work on flexibility in multiple directions, rather than holding a pose fixed for a period of time. You’ll see this in our video – the movement is intentional!
The Siamese cats are optional 🙂 We find that our cats and dog are better at some of these stretches than we are, so it gives us another level to aim at, if they decide to go along with the workout rather than licking/sleeping…
Overview of the 10 Easy Yoga Stretches featured in our video
1. Downward Dog and Upward Dog
I tend to do around 3 reps of each of these, flowing between the two poses every 10 seconds. I find downward and upward dog help with initiating flexibility, ready for the rest of our stretch routine.
With downward dog I’m focusing on breathing, staying strong, and stretching the backs of my legs with the intention of getting my heels to the floor. As you can see, that’s a goal that I have not yet achieved. Something to work on!
For upward dog, you can rest the front of your legs on the mat, or suspend your body by the top of your feet and your palms, with air beneath your legs.
You could easily spend longer on these poses, either holding them for longer, or doing more repetitions, rolling your feet under to get up into upward dog, and back again to face down and hold that pose once more. It’s amazing how quickly your heels get closer to the mat with each repetition, and without forcing them – even if there’s still a way to go before you have them touching the mat.
2. Warrior 2 Pose
This easy yoga stretch feels good on the hamstrings and inner thighs, and is a good one to hold for around 30 seconds on each side, remembering to breath fully and deeply in and out during that time, and stand up tall (no rounded back!).
I love the Warrior 2 pose as it always makes me feel strong and encourages holding good posture in your core, as well as providing a nice stretch particularly on the inner thigh of the front leg.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Fold (also similar to the ‘standing straddle stretch’)
Here’s where I start to stretch my lower back, it feels good to just ‘hang’ my upper body forwards and let gravity do the work.
I also find that it’s helpful to move around from side to side, clutching your ankle or calf area, to work on loosening tight areas on both sides.
4. ITB Forward Fold
Similar to the wide-legged forward fold, I like to do this stretch with one leg in front of the other, which works more on the outside as well as the back of the thighs.
When I used to experience ITB (illiotibial-band) pain, this stretch helped me a great deal – together with stretches and strength work focused on engaging my glutes.
5. Lizard Pose (or Pigeon Pose)
Many people suggest that the ‘Pigeon Pose’ is a good yoga stretch for runners, however I personally find that it can be hard on my knees, and I am tempted to twist them further than I ought to. The Lizard Pose is, for me, a better alternative.
Essentially this yoga stretch is a long lunge, which really stretches the hips and hamstrings. When you see yoga professionals or flexible people do it, they can get their elbows on the floor next to their front leg! We’re sticking with having our hands planted on the mat, which still gives a good stretch. Whichever one you prefer, these are great stretches for runners.
6. Static Squat
Another great pose, although not a specific yoga pose, a squat is something many people recommend doing every day whenever you get a chance. This is an area I am working on myself – while my hips are ok, my ankles are lacking in flexibility!
If you have restricted flexibility like me, it can help to prop your heels up or hold onto something, to enable you do confidently do a squat without falling backwards. Another option is to hold a weight in your hands.
7. Knees to Chest
Our variation of this stretch is easy. Lying on your back, bring your knees up to your chest and make sure your lower back is flat on the floor. Then, go to town rolling around – it helps to loosen my lower back.
I then develop this stretch, as shown in our video, by extending one leg, and then the other, while holding onto the other leg’s knee.
8. Cat-Cow Pose (aka Cats and Dogs)
Another yoga pose that’s often recommended for runners, the Cat-Cow Pose is actually two ‘poses’ that you flow between. This is a great one for not just your lower back, but the rest of your back and core.
Similar to the Downward Dog and Upward Dog, sometimes I spend much longer than one minute flowing between these two poses, as they feel good and are helpful for building strength and flexibility around my core.
Both poses start in in a ‘tabletop’ position, with upper legs and arms straight below you and perpendicular to the ground.
The ‘cat’ part of this pose involves exhaling, bringing your head and pelvis down into a ‘crunch’ and arching your back, without sagging in the shoulder area or moving arms or legs from the perpendicular position.
The ‘cow’ part of the pose is essentially the opposite: as you inhale, you’re flexing your core the other way, bringing your belly towards the floor and sit-bones and chest upwards.
9. Child’s Pose
Starting to relax, I put my knees at either side of the mat, and stretch forwards onto the mat with my arms and chest. This is one that can be hard on the knees as there is some twisting involved, so I’m particularly careful with them. Once I get into a good level of stretch and I’m doing this set of yoga stretches after a long run (or long day), I can get so comfortably in this pose that I could fall asleep! It hasn’t happened just yet but it’s only a matter of time 🙂
Sitting with feet together, and a straight back, I use this as an opportunity to also give the soles of my feet (Plantar Fascia!) a little massage.
To finish off our easy yoga stretches routine, you’ll see in the video we also like to do some breathing in ‘Corpse Pose’ – basically, lying flat on our backs.
All done! Take a big swig of water (our water is in our Larq self-cleaning smart-bottles) and pat yourself on the back.