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Yoga Stretches for Runners

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Updated August 12, 2012

It's important for runners to stretch in order to improve flexibility, which helps prevent injuries. The following sequence of yoga stretches targets the major muscle groups used when running. These stretches should be done when the muscles are already warm. Doing a few sun salutations is a good way to warm up.

1. Reclined Big Toe Pose - Supta Padangusthasana

© Barry Stone
Begin by lying on your back to stretch the legs. This is a great stretch for the calves and hamstrings. Try alternating between a pointed and flexed foot. If you don't have a yoga strap, any belt will do. Do both legs.

2. Head-to-Knee Pose - Janu Sirsasana

© Barry Stone
Next, sit up for janu sirsasana, which looks a lot like a classic runners' stretch for the calves and hamstrings. Do both sides.

3. Cobbler's Pose - Baddha Konasana

© Barry Stone
Bring the soles of the feet together for baddha konasana, a stretch for the groins and hips.

4. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose - Ardha Matsyendrasana

© Barry Stone
This is a basic spinal twist to stretch the back and shoulders. Do both sides.

5. Cow Face Pose - Gomukhasana

Cow Face Pose
© Barry Stone
A great hip stretch, but we're mostly interested in the triceps here, so if the leg position is too uncomfortable, you can just sit cross-legged. Stretch both sides.

6. Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog
© Barry Stone
Now let's move into some standing poses. Downward facing dog is wonderful for stretching the calves, hamstrings, and shoulders. Pedal the feet slowly to really work into the calf muscles.

7. Lunge

© Barry Stone
Lunges are great for stretching the hip flexors. Do both sides.

8. King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana

King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana
© Barry Stone
A big stretch for the quadriceps. Hold onto the wall for balance so you can really focus on the back leg. Do both sides.

9. Pyramid Pose - Parsvottonasana

Parsvottonasana
© Barry Stone

Let's finish with some hamstring stretches. It's important to stretch this muscle group, but be careful not to overdo it, as a hamstring pull is a serious injury. Keep a microbend in the front knee as you extend over the leg. Do both sides.

10. Standing Straddle Forward Bend - Prasarita Padottanasana

© Barry Stone
A final stretch for the hamstrings and hips.
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