yoga for running - post run poses for injury recovery
Yoga for Running

Yoga For Running – Injury Recovery – 12 Yoga Poses to Do After a Run to Recover from Injury and Tightness Faster

Yoga and running should go hand-in-hand. These post-run yoga asanas will help reduce pain, stretch your tight muscles, and help you to recover faster after your run. Meaning that you get to run again sooner!

It could be argued that any yoga is good for runners and while we wholeheartedly agree, there are definitely some select poses out there that benefit us who hit the tarmac or treadmill on a regular basis.  Read on and find out what these poses are.

Injuries Due to Running:

The muscles that are impacted the most while you’re running include:

  • Hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Hip flexors
  • Calf muscles
  • IT Band (not a muscle but becomes very tight and sore through running).
  • Hip and outer glutes
  • Feet and ankles

The poses outlined below aim to target the areas of the body which are most overused or prone to injury as a result of running.  These 12 poses incorporate all of the muscles listed above and will help to not only re-align, strengthen and lengthen them—so that they work in balance and union—but will also assist recovery and prevent injury.  

While I include them as a stretch routine after a run, they can by all means be practiced on their own to help with muscle recovery and injury prevention.   

Before We Begin: Breathing and Recovery

Before we jump into the yoga poses, let’s talk about breathing. Yes, breathing. The most important aspect of restorative yoga is deep breathing. How do you know you are breathing deep? Your stomach should expand when you breathe in and fully contract when you breathe out.

Try it! Breathe in for a count of 4-6.

Ok, Breathe in…1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006.

Now hold for a few seconds.

And, breathe out…1001, 1002, 1003,1004,1005,1006

Remember this pattern while you do the yoga poses for injury recovery.

1. Ardho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Benefits: Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, calves, and foot arches; strengthens shoulders.

Ardho Mukha Svanasana, downward dog, a yoga pose for runners.

How to Do It:

Start in an extended child pose, with your arms stretched out in front of you, whilst actively hugging the arm bones into the sockets.  Inhale and exhale, curl the toes under and come into your dog pose.  Actively press down your fingers into the mat and roll your triceps out and under to help stabilize your shoulders on your back.  Make sure you are actively pressing the shin and thigh bones back as to press the feet down into the mat.  

Play in this pose by “walking out the legs.”  Enjoy the stretch in the hamstrings!

From down dog you can move into upward facing dog which will help to lengthen out the hip flexors and the quadriceps.  A perfect combination both pre or post-run.

2. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

Benefits: stretches out tight quadriceps, hamstrings, groin and hips, and encourages a full range of motion in the lower body.

Anjaneyasana, low-lunge, a yoga pose for after a run.

How to Do It:

From Mukha Svanasana (downward dog), step the right foot between your hands, aligning the knee with the ankle. Drop the left knee to the floor sliding it back until you feel a stretch in the left quadricep (front of thigh) and the left groin; relax the toe nails into the mat.  Check that the front knee is still at a right angle to the floor.  Inhale and lift your torso, stretching your arms out and up, with the little fingers turning inwards (to help stabilize the shoulder blades onto the back ribs).  

Lengthening through the crown of the head, push the pubic bone forward and draw the hip bones together and in. This will help engage the lower core.  From here, lengthen the tailbone down as you lengthen up through the sides of the waist, drawing the front ribs to the back.  

3. Parsvakonasana

Benefits: strengthens and stretches the legs, knees and the ankles, stretches the groin, spine, waist, and shoulders.  If done carefully it will stretch the hip flexor of the back leg as well as effectively strengthen the core muscles.

 

Parsvakonasana, yoga for runners.

How to Do It:

Stand in “tadasana” (mountain pose) in the middle of your mat. Take your feet so that they are one leg length apart. Rotate your right foot out to 3pm and the left to 2pm; exhaling, bend the front knee (right) so that it is parallel to the floor. Inhale and extend the right side of the body over the bent front leg. Exhale and place the fingertips of your right hand on the floor to the outside of your right (front) leg.

Inhale and stretch the left arm up towards the ceiling with the palm of the hand facing towards you.

Exhale, extend the left arm over your left ear; the arms should form a continuous straight line with the back leg. Keep the chest open and both sides of the torso long and even.

Hold the posture using the inhale to elongate the body and the exhale to relax further into the stretch.

To come out of the posture, inhale and come up to standing by pushing into the heels of the feet. Reverse the feet and repeat to the opposite side. Finish in “tadasana.”

4. Parsvottanasana (pyramid pose)

Benefits: good stretch for the hamstrings, spine and calf muscles.  Stabilizes and strengthens the quadriceps.

Parsvottanasana or pyramid pose, a yoga pose for post-run.

How to Do It:

Begin in “tadasana” with your hands resting on your hips and feet hip width apart. On your exhale, step your left foot behind you about a leg length distance apart.

Square your hips to the front (note: you may need to alter the distance between the legs so that the hips can center).

Bring your arms out and back into reverse prayer pose or alternatively clasp the wrist or elbows.

On a inhale, lengthen your trunk forward over the leg. Exhaling, bring the chest over the right (front foot) lowering when your trunk is parallel to the floor.

On the next exhale, release your trunk down over the right leg as much as you can without rounding the back.

Relax and soften the abdomen as you breathe deeply into the back holding the posture. To come out of the pose, inhale and raise your trunk back up to standing.

5. Malasana (chair pose)

Benefits: this is a beautiful pose which will stretch your Achilles tendon (bottom of your calf muscle).  It also helps to tone the core and gluteus medius (a hip stabilizer which is important in running) as well as align and lengthen the spine.

Chair pose for post-run relief

How to Do It:

Depending upon your particular body make up and flexibility, stand with the feet hip-width or further apart.  The feet can face forward or be slightly turned out.

 Imagine you are going to sit on an imaginary chair and squat back and down into a full squat.  You are aiming to rest the thighs against the calves with a nice straight spine which is not collapsing forwards (think heavy tailbone).  

If the heels come off the floor, simply rest them on one or two folded blankets. Bring the elbows in between the inner thighs and use them to bring yourself deeper into the pose.  

Take care not to collapse the knees inwards by pressing through the outer ankles to help wake up the side glute muscles. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

6. Janu Sirsasana

Benefits:  lengthens and releases the hamstrings and calf muscles, stretches the spine and opens the hips.

Janu Sirsasana, yoga pose for runners after a run.

How to Do It:

Begin in “Dandasana” (seated, with legs fully extended out in front of you).

Bend your left leg and place the sole of the left foot against the inside of your right thigh as close to the groin as you can and drop the left knee to the floor (support with a blanket if needed). Activate your right leg and flex the right foot, toes pointing up towards the ceiling.

Hug the left femur head into the socket as much as you can to help you lower the knee to the floor.  

Place the left hand against the inner left groin and your right hand on the floor beside the right hip. Exhale, turn the torso gently towards the right keeping the torso lifted.

On an inhale, raise the arms above the head with the palms facing each other. Exhaling, fold forward from the hips over your right leg.

Clasp the side of your right leg or foot with your hands and lengthen the torso forward into a comfortable stretch.

The lower belly should touch the thighs first, followed by the chest and finally the head.  Try to maintain the length and feeling of extension in the spine without losing the shoulder blades on the back ribs.

As you hold the posture, try to relax using the breath to soften your abdomen and back. Hold for as long as comfortable.

To exit the pose, bring the hands to the floor beside your hips. Inhale and use the arms to bring your torso back up. Repeat on the other side.

7. Eka Pada RajaKapotasana (pigeon pose)

Benefits: lengthens and soothes the hip flexor of the leg which is stretching back.  Stretches the smaller stabilizing hip muscles and glutes of the bent knee.

Pigeon pose, yoga pose for runners.

How to Do It:

From down dog or table top position, slide the right knee forwards to the right hand.  

From there, “walk” the right foot out a little, keeping it close to your left groin if your hips are tight.  Meanwhile, “walk” the left leg behind you; you want to imagine that you are trying to pull the leg out of the socket.  

Come up onto the fingertips to lift and open the chest momentarily.  This will help to stretch out the left hip flexor.  

After a few breaths, you can bend the torso forward to bring the forehead to the floor (or rest it on a brick), relaxing over the bent leg.

After holding for a few breaths, switch sides.

8. Vajrasana Pose into reclined Hero

Benefits: Helps prevent plantar fasciitis by stretching the shins and arches of the feet.  Also helps to stretch the hip flexors and the quadriceps.

Vajrasana, a yoga pose for post run relief.

How to Do It:

Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under. Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes if you can). Breathe deeply for 10 counts.

Then, release the toes so that the toenails are pressing into the mat.

Bring your hands behind you with the fingers facing away from your torso.  Recline down onto the forearm to feel a strong stretch along the front of the thighs and the hip flexors.  

Either stay here or rest the back to the floor if you can.  Try and relax for 5-10 breaths before coming out very carefully.

9. Assisted Supta Padangusthasana

Benefits: strengthens, aligns and stretches all of the leg including the hide to get at IT band.

Assisted Supta Padangusthasana, a yoga pose for runners.

How to Do It:

Lie on your mat in a supine position (face up) with the legs and arms extended and the palms facing up.

Bend the right knee and bring it up towards the chest while you activate the left leg, planting the sole of your foot onto your mat, providing you with stability and anchorage.

Hold the big toe with the index and middle finger or take hold of the ankle with your hand.

Inhale and as you exhale straighten out the right leg—extending the right heel up towards the ceiling.Gently draw the right leg in toward the head.

Release the leg so that it is inline with the right hip.

Inhale and as you exhale open the right leg to the right side aiming your right heel towards the floor.

Hold for a few breaths at your comfortable maximum.  Exhale and return the leg back up so that it is once more in line with your hip.

Turn your right foot towards the right shoulder.  Keeping the foot flexed draw the foot towards the right shoulder until you feel a stretch in the IT band (iliotibial band, the side of your quad).  Hold this for a few breaths to allow the IT band time to soften and release.  Come back to center.

Inhale and exhale, lower the right leg towards your left shoulder.  You can shift the left hip slightly to the right in order to help the body move into the twist as you lower the leg.  Again hold at your comfort level and where you have a steady breath.  Release the leg back up on exhalation.

Release the right leg and repeat to the other side.

10. Reclining Gomukasana Legs (Cow Face)

Benefits: Improves range of motion in the hips; loosens tight glutes and hamstrings.

Cow face yoga pose, a great yoga pose for runners.

How to Do It:

Lie on your back and cross your knees, sending your feet out to your sides. Hold onto your right foot with your left hand and your left foot with your right hand.  If this is not possible or just feels uncomfortable, hold onto the shins instead.  

Gently, focus on holding the pose and simultaneously draw the heels towards the body and slightly out to the side and up.  

Hold for 10 breaths, then switch to the opposite side and repeat.

11. Vaparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)

Benefits: Relieves tension in legs, feet, and back; stretches hamstrings and glutes.

Vaparita Karani, a yoga pose great post-run.

How to Do It:

Sit facing any wall surface. Turn to the side and shift the left or right buttock as close to the wall as you can.

From here, swing the legs up the wall and lie down with the buttocks as close to the wall as comfortable. Rest here anywhere from 10 breaths to 10 minutes.  

You can make this pose even more restorative by using props. For example, try placing a bolster or rolled up mat underneath the sacrum. This will really help get rid of any lower back pain or soreness you may be feeling.

12. Savasana (corpse pose)

And then, as always, end your practice with the relaxing “Savasana.”

Savasana, yoga for post run relief.



So there you have it, our top 12 yoga poses to relieve stress and prevent injury after a run.  We would love to know what you think and what your favorite post-run pose is.

Here’s the infographic if you want to share it on social media (Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook)

Infographic Yoga for Runners - 12 Post-run yoga poses for Injury Recovery and Pain Relief

Infographic Yoga for Runners – 12 Post-run yoga poses for Injury Recovery and Pain Relief

For more articles on running and yoga, check out our “10 Benefits of Yoga for Runners.”

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