Confession: I’m guilty of skipping out on stretching after I run. And I’m not doing myself any favors: Stretching can alleviate tension (I notice my shoulders gradually rise up toward my ears when I become fatigued) and prevent injury.
I’m trying to become a smarter runner as I train for my 20th marathon, this fall. My training plan calls for weekly strength sessions, so I’ve added yoga to my routine. Not only has yoga helped me become more flexible and balanced but it’s also made me a stronger runner.
You too can become a better runner—and stop skimping on stretching—by leaning into these three poses post-workout. Remember to breathe.
- Pose 1, Reclining Pigeon: This pose stretches your IT band, the connective tissue along your outer thigh, from your hip to shin.
- Pose 2, Tree: I didn’t realize how weak my balance was until I did PT for piriformis pain. This pose helps strengthen calves, ankles, thighs, spine, and stretches your groin, thighs, hips, and shoulders. It’s great in for relieving sciatic pain.
- Pose 3, 90/90 Lunge or Crescent Lunge: Crescent Lunge stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors, while also opening the front torso, chest, and shoulders. It strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and butt, while the balancing aspect helps to develop flexible stability.
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Amanda is a test editor at Runner’s World who has run the Boston Marathon every year since 2013; she's a former professional baker with a master’s in gastronomy and she carb-loads on snickerdoodles.