For runners with tight hips and legs, yoga can be a game-changer. But who has time to fit in a 90-minute class on top of running workouts? As Liz Arch, founder of Primal Yoga, explained at the first-ever Under Armour fight camp, “Even if you carve out 10 minutes a day, you will start seeing the benefits.”
Arch, who works with a number of athletes in different sports, says that the runners who come to her studio most often suffer from chronically tight hip flexors, hamstrings and calves—and that this immobility can track up the way up the body into the spine. Arch explains, “Being able to lengthen, open and stretch those areas will help with peak performance and preventing injuries when you don’t want to be sidelined.”
For time-crunched runners, Arch has selected five poses to get the most bang for your buck. Perform this sequence after every run and your body, mind and soul will thank you.
1. Anjaneyāsana or Low Lunge
Areas targeted: hip flexors, chest and spine
Start in downward dog. Lift one leg up behind you and bring the foot forward between your hands. Lower into a lunge and bring the back knee to the floor. Raise your arms above your head. Concentrate on lightly pushing the hips forward and opening the chest.
2. Ardha Hanumanasana or Half Split
Areas targeted: hamstrings and calves
From a low lunge with the back knee on the floor and hands on the ground framing your front foot, press hips toward the back of the room, hinging your body over the front leg. For an extra stretch, flex the foot toward the sky.
3. Prasarita Padottanasana or Straddle Forward Fold
Areas targeted: hamstrings, calves, outer ankles, back and neck
From a lunge, lift your hips toward the sky while straightening the legs and placing your hands on the ground between your feet. Feet should be open almost as wide as your mat. If your hands don’t reach the ground, hang forward or place a block beneath the hands. For a deeper stretch, grab your outer ankles and try to place the crown of your head on the floor.
3. Utthan Pristhasana or Lounging Lizard
Areas targeted: outer hips, gluteus medius
Lower into a lunge with back knee on the ground. Lean body forward and place your forearms on the floor. Flex the front foot and turn the toes outward until you feel a stretch in the outer hip.
5. Reclined Pigeon or Thread the Needle
Areas targeted: piriformis muscle, hips
Lie on your back. Bend one knee so that the foot rests on top of the straight leg with the knee out to the side of the room. Bend the straight leg toward your chest and grab the shin. Pull the shin toward your chest until you feel a stretch.
This article was originally published in the Competitor.