If you’re a runner, you’ve likely lamented about tight hips, hamstring cramps and even the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Runners definitely experience a unique set of issues that they often ignore or try to address with stretches that are probably not doing the trick.
Thankfully, you can sooth some of these ailments with yoga. According to Kelly Creel, a yoga instructor and fitness coach in Birmingham, Alabama, you can roll out a mat and do the following nine poses anywhere. She recommends a set of yoga poses to build strength and help you stretch.
“They’re all very accessible,” Creel says about the poses. “They’re not too challenging or risk-inducing.” Here are her go-to poses perfect for any runner in need of a good stretch.
Runners often experience cramping in their shoulders because they keep their upper body tight as they run. “Being open and relaxed is what I love about this chest stretch,” Creel says. Do this pose on each side.
This pose will help with posture, especially keeping your shoulders engaged but relaxed and your head lifted. Creel says this move is also good for upper body strength, core, back, glutes, quadriceps and even calves. “It’s a good stretch for plantar because your toes are turned under,” she says. “If you are mindfully practicing elbow plank, there’s not a single muscles you’re not using.”
Good for building leg strength, like squats, chair to balancing chair can also be done in the seated position if balance is not your strong suit. “I like to encourage runners to keep up a routine of lunges and squats (aka, crescent pose and chair),” Creel says.
This move, similar to calf raises, helps to build strength in the ankles, a key component for staying stable while running. “The stronger the joint, the less likely you are to roll it and injure yourself,” Creel says.
Creel adds a quadriceps stretch to her pigeon pose that she says “is fairly doable, even for people who are tight, like me.”
Because you have your back knee touching the floor in this move, Creel says you can relax down into the lunge. With lizard, you let the front foot roll to the outer edge and open the front knee. “Usually that’s one of my favorite poses to teach in class because when I do it people always say, ‘Oh, yeah, that just hit something I didn’t know needed to be stretched.’ ”
This version of child’s pose gives you a deeper inner thigh stretch, Creel says, and allows you to relax.
This is the like the opposite of wide-knee child’s pose. Gravity helps open your hips up.
“When I practice yoga on my own, I always do this right before I go to my final meditation,” Creel says. For a deeper hamstring stretch you can extend the upper leg out straight.
Creel shares her love of exercise through Inspire Fitness, the wellness company she founded with her husband in 2012. For more info, visit inspirefitnessbirmingham.com or call (205) 529-9360 to schedule a personalized wellness appointment.