Low lunge is the best yoga pose for runners, and here’s why:
Runners use their legs to move forward. That’s obvious.
The muscles they use to move forward are the mainly the hip flexors (to pull the knee up) and the hamstrings (to pull the legs back), and quads (to stabilize the knee and strike the ground).
Of course, running activates all sorts of other muscles and, also of course, there’s no one yoga pose that can address every part of the body. For my body, when I run, low lunge (also known as anjaneyasana) gives me the shape I need to touch the most crucial parts of my body that tighten up from running.
My hip flexors get torched when I run. Maybe it’s something to do with my form or cadence, but they always seem to be the most worked body part after I run.
With low lunge, this area is addressed directly. Starting with one knee on the ground and the other lunging forward, the hips can draw forward to create a massive stretch up the psoas and adding a slight backbend lifts the stretch into the core (which feels pretty great).
So we have the hip flexors covered and I’m not going to be selfish and leave it there just because that’s what I need most. From this same position, you can do two things:
- Massive quad stretch: Drops the hands to the floor (or a block) and twist toward your front leg, maybe grabbing the back foot with your hand or a strap.
- Massive hamstring stretch: Shift the hips back and straighten the front leg, folding forward over that leg to any degree.
These two positions are, technically, not a low lunge, but the low lunge shape gives you easy access to move from pose to pose, even flowing a little bit, to get a smart warm-up or cool down for the major running muscles.
Yoga and running go very well together because each complements what the other lacks. In a way, running is the push and yoga is the pull.
To all the runners out there, is low lunge your favorite pose? If not, what other poses do you like to stay moving?
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