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The 10 Best Poses for Runners

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These 10 poses from Montreal-based personal trainer and yoga and ChiRunning instructor Hyongok Cho Kent target specific muscles like the hamstrings and calves. The result? Your muscles, ligaments and tendons rebound faster so there’s less chance of injury, less soreness, and speedier recovery. The poses also simultaneously strengthen muscles in the core, back, and arms to improve posture, helping you to run more efficiently. Talk about a run for your money.

Spend 15 to 20 minutes on these poses after a run when muscles are warm, or practice them on your off days. Even better: Take at least one weekly yoga class for a deep, total-body stretch.

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Wall Dog

1. Stand facing a wall, about an arm’s distance away, feet shoulder-width apart, hands on wall at shoulder height, fingertips pointing upward.
2. Take a few steps back and bend at waist until spine is parallel with the floor.
3. Stretch hips away from wall, lift lower belly in and back.
4. Lengthen lower back, keeping pelvis stable. Stretch crown of head forward. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Stretches: Shoulders, hamstrings, calves, lats, lower back, sacrum, hips
Strengthens: Core, spinal muscles, shoulder joints

Hamstring Stretch

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend arms behind you and take hold of forearms or elbows.
2. Step right foot back 2 to 3 feet and turn right foot in 60 degrees to square hips.
3. Keeping hips stable, lengthen through spine, and draw low belly in.
4. Bend forward from hips as far as you can, while keeping legs and spine straight. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
5. Repeat on opposite side.

Stretches: Hamstrings, shoulders, forearms
Strengthens: Legs, core, back

Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend

1. Stand with legs spread about 4 feet apart, feet parallel, toes pointing slightly inward, hands on hips.
2. Keeping hips stable, lift spine up, draw low belly in, and lengthen lower back.
3. Bend forward from the hips, bring fingertips or palms to  the floor.
4. Push into the floor with your hands, lift the chest and draw shoulders onto back, keeping spine long and legs active. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Stretches: Abductors, hamstrings, calves, lower back, sacrum, Achilles tendons, ankles, inner thighs
Strengthens: Core, legs, ankles

Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend with Twist

1. From Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend, walk both hands toward the right leg, keeping equal weight on both feet and hips even on one plane.
2. Gently twist from left side of belly toward the right. For a deeper stretch, place right palm flat on low back. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Place right hand on floor, untwist, walk fingers back to center.
4. Repeat on opposite side.

Stretches: Outer hips, oblique, shoulders, intercostals
Strengthens: Hip stabilizers, core muscles

Lunge

1. Kneel on the floor.
2. Bring right foot forward and bend right knee to 90 degrees so shin and thigh are perpendicular and thigh is parallel with floor.
3. Keeping hips stable, lift spine up, and draw low belly in.
4. Stretch torso forward until it rests on right thigh. Place hands on floor on either sides of right foot.
5. Slide left knee back until leg is straight and turn left toes under. Press ball of left foot into the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
6. Repeat on opposite side.

Stretches: Psoas, calves, Achilles tendons
Strengthens: Back, legs

Front Thigh Stretch

1. Kneel on a blanket or mat and then sit on the heels with toes tucked under.
2. Place hands on the floor about 6 inches behind your glutes, fingertips facing toward your body. Draw low belly in, and slide tailbone forward toward heels.
3. Press shins and hands into the floor, and lift buttocks several inches off of the heels. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Stretches: Front thigh, groin, knees, back
Strengthens: Hamstrings

Bound Angle Pose

1. Sitting on the floor, bring soles of the feet together and bring the heels as close to your groin as you can while keeping the spine straight.
2. Press the soles of the feet together to allow thighs to descend toward the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. If you have trouble keeping the spine straight, sit on a folded blanket.

Stretches: Inner thighs, pelvic region, hips, shins
Strengthens: Hips

Diamond Pose with Toes Tucked Under

1. Begin on hands and knees on a blanket or mat with knees and feet slightly apart, shins parallel with each other.
2. Turn toes under so balls of feet rest on floor. Sit on heels with knees resting on the floor. Place hands on tops of thighs. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Stretches: Soles of feet, toes, ankles
Strengthens: Ankles, feet

Diamond Pose with Cow-Face Pose Arms

1. Begin on all fours on a blanket or mat with knees and feet slightly apart, shins parallel with each other.
2. Sit back on heels with the tops of the feet touching the floor.
3. Extend right arm out to the side in line with shoulder, thumb pointing down.
4. Bend right elbow, take right arm behind the back, touch the spine with the back of right hand, fingertips pointing toward neck.
5. Extend left arm straight up to the ceiling. Turn hand so palm faces wall behind you.
6. Bend left elbow and reach left fingers to touch right fingers. Use a shirt or towel if fingers don’t touch. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Stretches: Ankles, shoulders, knees shins, arms, chest
Strengthens: Spine

Full Body Relaxation with Conscious Breathing

Lay on back with a folded towel under the head and neck. Bend knees and let the back of the torso release into the floor. Place hands on ribs. Focus on feeling the breath move in and out of the lungs. After about 2 minutes or 20 breaths, stretch arms out to the sides, palms face up, and relax the neck and shoulders. Extend legs one at a time and relax torso and lower back. Stay here for 5 to 10 minutes.

Conscious breathing expands lung capacity. Also, slowing the breathing relaxes the central nervous system.