6 awesome post-run yoga moves to help you cool down

September 9, 2014

After a great run on your home treadmill, you’re sure to feel exhilarated and happy with yourself for completing a successful fitness session. When you’re on a runner’s high, the last thing you might want to do is take the time to cool down and stretch – but this is an underrated and important aspect of your total workout. Cooling down helps prevent injuries and sore muscles, and keeps you flexible and mobile.

If you find traditional stretching boring when you hop off of your home gym equipment, you might want to try a quick yoga sequence that’s excellent for a little bit of cross training.

As Ace Fitness explained, doing some post-run yoga poses helps you maintain your flexibility while recirculating built-up lactic acid. Additionally, yoga asanas are not static, isolated stretches, which means that they help with proper muscle balance.

What’s more, asanas are performed slowly and deliberately, incorporating deep, slow breathing, which will help return your body to its natural resting state after an intense run that got your heart beating quickly.

Here are six yoga poses Ace Fitness suggested for your post-run cool down:

1. Standing pigeon
This pose will open up the external rotators in your hip and stretch your piriformis muscle.

  • Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
  • Place your right foot above your left knee.
  • Slowly start to lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair, bending at the left knee.
  • Continue to bend until you feel a stretch in your hip and right buttock.
  • Hold for up to 30 seconds then switch.
  • Grasp a wall or chair if you need assistance with balance.

2. Diamond variation pose
The diamond helps to stretch the bottom of your feet – also known as the plantar fascia – which can get tight easily.

  • Kneel on your shins and tuck your toes.
  • Slowly start to sit back onto your legs, pressing your glutes into your heels.
  • You should feel a stretch through the bottom of your foot.
  • Breathe and hold the pose for at least 15 to 20 seconds.
  • To add a chest stretch, lace your fingers behind your head and open your elbows wide.

3. Pyramid pose
Pyramid loosens up the back of your legs, targeting your hamstrings as well as your glutes and calves.

  • Stand with your feet wider than hip distance with your right toes facing the side.
  • Rotate your upper upper body to the right.
  • Gently lower your upper body toward your right foot, resting on your shin with your foot or the floor depending on your flexibility level.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

4. Standing downward facing dog
The standing version of this asana opens your chest and stretches the backside of your body and lower extremities

  • Place your hands on the back of a chair.
  • Step your feet back several inches from the chair and stand hip-distance apart.
  • Make sure your hips are over your legs and keep your chest parallel with the floor.
  • To stretch your calves, you can alternate lifting your heels off the ground.

5. Low lunge
This pose stretches out your quads and hips flexors, which is especially important for runners.

  • Begin by kneeling on the ground.
  • Bring your right foot forward into a lunge position.
  • Step the right foot forward until you feel a stretch in your left hip flexor and quad, then lift your arms straight overhead.
  • Hold for up to 30 seconds then switch.

6. Chest opening Warrior 1
This asana will help stretch out your chest muscles as well as work your hips and obliques.

  • Stand in the middle of a door frame
  • Step your right foot back with your foot turned at a 45-degree angle.
  • Bring your left arm up, bend the elbow and place your forearm against the door frame.
  • Lunge forward, pressing your forearm into the frame until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch to the right arm.