13 Best Recovery Stretches for Runners
Rocking the #oisellefullhalf challenge this month? Whether you’re training for a half or full marathon (or any other distance), here’s 13 legit yoga for runners stretches to help you recover post-run/race and keep your body in balance so that you can run and feel your best!
When the run is done, use these gems to #hitreset. Breathe deeply and hold for ~30 seconds.
Bonus: Take 13 minutes to do them all (30 seconds on each side).
Why: Your feet need love, too! This baby helps prevent common running feet woes such as plantar fasciitis.
- From all fours, tuck your toes under and reach back and pull your baby toes forward, even if they don’t want to stay there.
- Sit upright and rest your hands on your thighs.
- If that’s too intense, leave your hands on the floor and walk them forward, as if you’re pushing the floor away from you as you push your heels back.
- Put a folded towel or blanket under your knees for padding if needed.
2. Calf Press
Why: This simple maneuver is a one-stop shop for increasing circulation, tone, and pliability in dense calf musculature, and helps prevent lower leg and foot injuries.
- From all fours, straighten one leg long behind you without locking the knee, tucking your toes under on the floor.
- Keeping your hips level, rock your weight forward and back, as if you’re doing standing heel lifts on that leg.
3. Reclined Hero
Why: Relaxes hips/butt/low back.
- Lie on your back and extend your arms open to the sides about shoulder height, palms up.
- Bring your feet wider than hip width (about as wide as your mat if you are using one), and drop your thighs together into a triangle shape.
- Keep your feet flexed so that your ankles don’t collapse toward the center.
4. Windshield Wipers
Why: Moves your legs beyond your usual (forward-oriented) range of motion and helps to ease muscular imbalances.
- Lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, wiper than hip width apart.
- Drop your knees to one side and turn your head to look to the opposite side.
- Lift your knees back to center, then drop them to the other side and look in the opposite direction.
- Continue the movement, just like windshield wipers moving side to side.
5. Figure 4
Why: Eases post-run hip stiffness and restores fluidity.
- Lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, wider than hip width apart.
- Cross your ankle over the opposite knee, keeping the foot flexed.
- Stay here or pick your legs up, interlacing your fingers around your bottom leg hamstrings or shin. Only pick the legs up if you can still comfortably rest your head and shoulders on the floor.
- Add a little rock side to side. It’s small. Notice how the stretch changes as you change the angles. Use that small movement to encourage more fluidity around the hip joint.
Why: Booty lock mitigation. Need I say more?
- Sit down and bend your knees, staggering one leg in front of the other so that it makes a pinwheel shape, with a little bit of space between your front foot and your back knee.
- Keep both feet flexed.
- Sit up tall and turn your torso toward your front thigh, and lie down on top of it.
- When you think you’ve found your resting point, try to lengthen your spine even more, as if you’re pulling your ribs farther away from your hips.
7. Reclined Hammy Time
Why: Eases post-run stiffness in the back of your body, from your foot to low back.
- Lie on your back.
- Extend one leg toward the ceiling and interlace your fingers around your hamstrings, making a hammock for that leg to rest into.
- Your arms should be straight, shoulders and head on the floor—bend your lifted leg knee as much as needed to make that happen.
- Bend your other knee and put that foot on the floor, helping you to maintain a more neutral spine.
- Point your lifted leg foot.
- Flex your lifted leg foot.
Why: Effective stretch to Reset your hips, hammies, and lower legs simultaneously.
- Stand up and externally rotate your thigh bones in your hip joints so that your heels point in and your toes point out.
- Bend your knees—tracking them over the ankles—to come into a deep squat.
- Keep your heels on the floor—stay up higher if you need to in order to make that happen.
- Lift up all of your toes so you really feel your weight moving back into the heels.
- Rest your hands on the floor in front of you or your forearms on your thighs.
9. Standing Straddle Forward Fold With Internal Rotation
Why: Get out of your usual range of motion while unstiffening your hammies—adding a subtle internal rotation of your thighs will help you stretch rather than strain those stiff muscles post-workout.
- Step your feet wide apart.
- Internally rotate your thigh bones in your hip joints so that your heel point out and your toes point in (slightly pigeon-toed)—use your hands to help turn your thighs in.
- Walk your hands down your legs, bending your knees as much as needed to rest your fingertips on the floor—if that feels too far to reach, rest your hands on a block or other prop.
- Try to keep your torso close to your thighs—bend your knees more if needed to make that happen.
- Bend and stretch your legs a few times and then be still.
- Press down evenly through your feet to gently deepen the stretch rather than trying to force your knees back more.
- Drop your head to relax your neck.
10. Armpit Space
Why: Poor armpits! They rarely see the light of day and stretching this area helps to ease post-run shoulder stiffness.
- Stand (you can also do this sitting but make sure you’re sitting up tall), turn your palms forward, and reach your arms overhead.
- Interlace your fingers and press up through the heels of your palms, focusing on making as much space around your armpits as possible.
- Keeping your fingers interlaced, bend your right elbow down and reach up through your left elbow.
11. Chest Expansion
Why: Unstiffen your chest and increase your breath capacity.
- Bring your hands to your low back and interlace your fingers—if that’s not possible, rest your hands on your low back with your fingers pointing toward the floor.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades toward each other and move your elbows closer together so you feel your chest broaden.
- Feel the stretch across the front of your chest and the fronts of your shoulders as your shoulder blades continue to move together.
- Use deeper breathing to deepen the stretch, as if you’re trying to puff up your chest with your inhale.
12: Around Town
Why: Not everything has to be a specific “stretch.” Simple mobility like this works wonders to restore balance post-workout.
- Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip’s width apart and your knees bent slightly.
- Put your hands on your hips and circle them around—take it all around town!
13. Legs up the Wall With Strap
Why: The Boss of all recovery stretches!
- Take a looped yoga strap or belt and put it around your lower legs—this should allow them to be a bit wider than hip width.
- Extend your legs up the wall.
- Keep your knees bent a little and turn your feet away from each other slightly—really let your legs rest into the support of your strap and the wall.
- Rest your arms along your sides with your palms facing up.
Spoiler alert! Jasyoga's new Yoga for Runners Collection of videos is launching next month. Subscribe Jasyoga Video at video.jasyoga.com.
Get more tips from Erin on balance, strength, and stability.