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10 Stretches & Yoga Poses Every Runner Should Practice Daily

Dan Chabert
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Running is fairly straightforward – but despite running’s simplicity, runners often have a high injury rate.
 
A cursory survey of runners reveals most runners have experienced some type of injury at least once in his or her running tenure. These injuries span from simple overuse like iliotibial (IT) band syndrome or more complicated injuries like stress fractures.
 
Running can be tough on the body. And if you’re not balancing running with other types of strength and flexibility training, you can become more prone to injury somewhere down the line.
 
Whether you’re new to running or just want some tips about how you can increase your flexibility, check out the list below and help your body stay injury free.
 

Here are 10 stretches every runner should practice daily:

 

1. Foot stretch

Our feet are often overlooked when it comes to stretching, but our feet also have muscles that need to be stretched – especially after running.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Grab a tennis ball, frozen water bottle or canned good
  • Place one or both hands on a wall
  • Place your right foot on the tennis ball, water bottle or canned good and slowly roll your foot back and forth and side to side to release tension
  • Spend a few minutes stretching each foot

 
Yoga pose for a foot stretch: Toe Stand
 
 

2. Hamstring stretch

Runners tend to run their hamstrings ragged, which can result in intense tightness. Taking a few minutes daily to stretch your hamstrings will help your training and recovery.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Begin standing with the right leg extended in front of you with your heel on the ground and your toes flexed toward your face
  • Slowly bend the left leg as if you were sitting in a chair
  • Place your hands on your hips or on a wall
  • Continue to lower your hips down and back while maintaining an upright posture
  • Hold for a few breaths, then switch legs

 
Yoga pose for a hamstring stretch: Pyramid Pose
 
 

3. Calf stretch

Calf muscles can be quick to tighten, but luckily calf muscles are pretty easy to stretch.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Find a step in your home or at the gym
  • Place your right foot onto the step and let your heel hang off the edge
  • Slowly begin to press your heel down toward the ground to allow your calf to stretch
  • Hold for a few breaths, then switch feet

 
Yoga pose for a calf stretch: Downward Facing Dog
 

 

4. Glute stretch

Our glute muscles are one of the largest muscle groups in our body, and a very important muscle for runners.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Place your left hand on a wall
  • Slowly cross the right foot over the left thigh as you bend the left knee
  • Continue to bend the left leg to feel a more intense stretch on your right hip
  • Hold for a few breaths, then switch legs

 
Yoga pose for a glute stretch: Pigeon Pose
 
 

5. Quadricep stretch

The quadriceps are another powerful and important muscle group for runners and should never go without a good stretch.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Place your left hand on a wall
  • Bend your right knee and grab your right foot with your right hand
  • Slowly pull your right foot toward your right hip for a more intense stretch
  • Continue to stand tall during the stretch
  • Hold for a few breaths, then switch legs

 
Yoga pose for a quadricep stretch: Dancer’s Pose
 
 

6. Shoulder stretch

We may not think of our shoulders being used much for running, but our arms are active as we run, and can also become tense.

Let’s stretch it out:

  • Cross your right arm over your chest and keep it extended
  • Use your left arm to press your right arm into your chest
  • You’ll feel your right shoulder slowly stretching
  • Hold for a few breaths then switch arms

 
Yoga pose for a shoulder stretch: Thread the Needle
 
 

7. Neck stretch

Have you felt your neck tense up while running? It’s not fun, but you can do simple stretches to help alleviate the built up tension in your neck.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Begin seated with your arms by your side or in your lap
  • Bring your chin to right shoulder and lower it as closely as you can towards your shoulder
  • Pause here and enjoy the stretch on the left side of your neck
  • Keeping your chin as low as possible, very slowly bring your chin toward your left shoulder
  • Pause on the left side and feel the right side of your neck open
  • Continue slowly back and forth until your neck tension is released

 
Yoga pose for a neck stretch: Plow Pose
 
 

8. Inner thigh stretch

Adductors are just as important as quadriceps and glute muscles to runners and need proper attention.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • While seated, bend your knees and place the soles of the feet together
  • Keep your knees wide and place your elbows on your legs
  • Then slowly use your elbows to push your knees closer to the ground
  • You’ll feel a slow stretch in your adductors and hips
  • Stay here for a few breaths, then repeat

 
Yoga pose for an inner thigh stretch: Bound Angle Pose
 
 

9. Iliotibial (IT) band stretch

Tight IT bands are often the scourge for many runners and can lead to discomfort and even injury.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Grab a strap, belt or towel and recline on your back
  • Place the strap on the ball of your right foot and grab the tails of the strap with each hand
  • Then extend the leg toward the sky
  • Don’t worry if the knee is bent
  • Be sure your right hip stays on the floor as you slowly cross your right leg to the left
  • It won’t take much to find your IT band
  • Stay here for a few breaths, then switch sides

 
Yoga pose for an IT band stretch: Revolved Triangle
 
 

10. Hip flexor stretch

If you’re an avid runner, it’s highly likely that your hip flexors frequently become tight.
 
Let’s stretch it out:

  • Take one large step forward with your right foot coming into a lunge position
  • Be sure your right knee is at a 90 degree angle
  • Place your left knee on the ground and allow your hands to frame your right foot
  • Slowly push your hips forward to stretch the left hip flexor
  • Take a few breaths, then switch legs

 
Yoga pose for an hip flexor stretch: Low Crescent Lunge
 
Start incorporating these 10 stretches into your daily routine to help give you maximum range of motion in your running and help minimize your risk of injury. Keep in mind that you should abstain from doing any sort of stretching if your body isn’t properly warmed up, and that a stretch should never be painful.
 

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Dan Chabert

An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultra marathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick.com, Nicershoes.com, MonicasHealthMagazine.com and GearWeAre.com. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.

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