Yoga for Runners: How Yoga Helps Runners Perform Better




Runners are a whole community of people. They are focused, consistent, resilient, and committed to their craft.

They also tend to succumb to a whole host of physical issues specific to runners. Kind of like how tennis players often get tennis elbow (aka tendonitis) or sprained ankles from their constant change of direction, runners get shin splints, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and their own set of ankle injuries.

It’s no surprise to us that yoga for runners is a thing and that runners can seriously benefit from a regular yoga practice.

But yoga might be a new concept to a lot of runners out there.

Not necessarily new in the sense they’ve never heard of it, but new in the way they’ve never thought about trying it out as a part of their training and recovery.

So we wanted to discuss how yoga helps runners perform better, prevents injury, and helps their body recover.

If you haven’t checked out MyYogaTeacher yet, we’d love to have you! With a continuously grown variety of classes, we’re confident that there’s a perfect class or two...or three out there for you! You can get your 2-week free trial here and take as many or as few as you want!

Yoga for core strength

We’ve talked about it. You’ve talked about it. Virtually every trainer in every possible sport has talked about it. 

Core strength.

And what is one huge benefit of yoga? A stronger core, of course!

For runners, having a strong core means better torso stability when they’re running. Core strength allows a runner’s hips, pelvis, and lower back to work together seamlessly. Smoother operation of those areas means less lower back pain and fewer lower back injuries. Having a stronger core also means runners recover from missteps or loss in balance better, which may also help to prevent ankle and foot injuries!

Power yoga and vinyasa yoga are awesome choices for runners who are looking to improve their core strength and underused muscles.

Breathwork for runners: Yogic breathing

Runners are very focused on getting plenty of oxygen when they run. It’s a good thing, right? Right.

One of the benefits of yoga for runners is that their lung function improves! Yogic breathing not only teaches runners how to breathe better, more steadily, and with more control while they’re running, it actually increases their lung capacity and strengthens the breathing muscles.

And since all yoga practices include some form of breathwork, runners benefit from yoga in an organic way.

Yoga for runners: Flexibility

We’ve mentioned this briefly in another article you’re welcome to check out titled Yoga for Athletes: 5 Reasons Yoga Should Be Included in Athletic Training.

Flexibility for runners is important for keeping their overused muscles stretched out. Runners notoriously have tight hamstrings, hips, glutes, and quads. Tightness in these areas, in the long term, can cause postural problems, back pain, foot pain, and a rotated pelvis.

This is where taking a yoga class for runners specifically helps them. Becoming more flexible will help their majorly used muscle groups recover while also helping to prevent injury during their runs and in their future.

Yoga helps runners recover

One of the most underused training tools in existence is...time. Recovery time, that is.

Recreational and hardcore athletes alike don’t spend enough time letting their bodies recover, much less use yoga as a recovery tool.

The truth is yoga is the perfect recovery activity for runners. While a yoga class for runners is particularly helpful, any yoga class that involves passive stretching, such as yin yoga, will help runners release tension and relieve soreness in their muscles.

Stretching also restores range of motion so runners can perform better after yoga.

Better balance for runners

Balance for runners is important, particularly for trail runners, who often don’t run on an even or paved surface. Losing balance is an easy way to sprain or break ankles, incur foot injuries, and even fall, causing other injuries as well.

Runners who practice yoga reap more benefits than just the obvious ones. Balancing poses strengthen all the tiny muscles in the ankles and feet, which helps runners maintain their balance on uneven surfaces or regain it with more ease if they do lose it.

Yoga poses such as tree pose, crescent lunge, extended hand-to-big-toe pose, eagle pose, high lunge, and chair pose are great yoga poses for runners to practice to help with balance.

Perfect yoga poses for runners

If you’re a runner, we get that you may be busy or not all that comfortable participating in a yoga class (yet). So we want you to have some specific yoga poses for runners to  use before and/or after your daily run. 

Butterfly pose

Butterfly Pose

Half pigeon pose

Half Pigeon Pose

Happy baby pose

Happy Baby Pose

Downward facing dog pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Lizard pose

Lizard Pose

Forward fold

Standing Forward Fold

Toes pose

Toes Pose

Quad stretch

Quad Stretch

We recommend holding each pose for 1-5 minutes on each side, and be sure to come out of each pose slowly. Only stretch so far as you don’t suffer. A bit of discomfort is ok, but if there is serious pain, back off on how far you’re stretching or release the stretch completely. You will feel the difference in your muscles immediately after this series of yoga poses for runners!

Are you a runner or a walker? We’d love to see you on the mat here at MyYogaTeacher! There are many classes offered that will improve your performance, help your body recover, and help you prevent injuries common for runners. Not to mention all the other benefits that everyone gets from practicing yoga! Get your free 2-week trial membership here and try any of the amazing group yoga classes taught by expert, highly experienced yoga instructors from the birthplace of yoga, India. 

See you there!

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