Running has many positive benefits for millions, but often leaves muscles sore and tight, and can be painful without proper stretching. International Yoga Expert and President of YogaFit, Beth Shaw, swears by these top 5 yoga poses to help alleviate leg soreness and stiffness that runners often experience. This routine is great to add to a weekly cross-training routine as well.
DANCER POSE: Begin in mountain pose and, balancing on the right leg, bend the left knee and open your left hand so the palm is facing away from you. Wrap your fingers around your foot and hold the quadriceps stretch for a breath or two. Next, reaching the right arm to the sky, you allow the left foot to push into the left hand as it straightens away and behind you. Your body will naturally tip forward a bit as your hand presses into the foot and the foot presses into the hand. (If you were facing a mirror, you might see your back toes peaking above your head, like a feather in your cap for attempting this fun back bend, ankle strengthening and stretch). Hold for three breaths, keeping the core tight and finding a focal point to stare at to assist in balancing. Return to standing and repeat on the other side.
UPSIDE DOWN PIDGEON POSES: Lying face up on the floor, lifting the legs to knee height off the floor, bring the right ankle to the left quadriceps – aiming for a spot on the leg midway between knee and groin. Pull left knee in towards body, push right knee away gently until you feel a deep stretch in the hip and glute are. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
FORWARD FOLD: When at resting heart rate, standing, hinge at the hips folding forward - grab onto elbows, or more intense- grab ankles - with fluid breathing sink a little further on each exhale, letting the crown of the head move towards the floor and relaxing the head and neck as much as possible. Take 10 deep breaths. This poses is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or if heart rate is higher than resting.
CRESCENT LUNGE: Stepping back from Mountain Pose with option to lower back knee to the floor while keeping front knee bent and knee over ankle. Gently squeezing through buttocks to open the front body including quads and hip flexor. Option of reaching arms up into a gentle back bend or keeping hands at heart centre.
BUTTERFLY POSE: Tight Soas muscles are common to runners. This pose will open up tight muscles. Start seated with the soles of the feet together, gently place hands on the ankles and use elbows to press thighs and knees towards the floor, breathe and visualize the hip flexors softening. Take 10 deep breaths here.