Yoga Stretches for Runners: 4 Poses to Do Now

Here are the four best yoga stretches for runners that will help limber you up and make the most of your time. You don’t have to do yoga for hours to reap the benefits.

Being selective in the postures you do will give you the most bang for your buck. Not only will you be targeting all those typical runner tight spots, but you’ll also be doing it in less time.

You only need 7 minutes

Ideally, you’ll want to do each pose for one minute per side. That’s a total of 7 minutes! Who doesn’t have 7 minutes?!

Surely you have 7 minutes to dedicate to injury prevention. As a runner, you know how important stretching is to keep you feeling good and injury free. We all know we should stretch more. Make time for it a couple times a week.

With a sequence that’s only 7 minutes long, there’s no excuse not to do it!

Disclaimer: Although I am a physical therapist and certified yoga teacher by profession, I am not YOUR physical therapist or yoga teacher. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and does not establish any kind of therapist-patient or teacher-student relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.

Yoga Stretches for Runners

The four best yoga stretches for runners to target runners’ tight spots are outlined and described below.

1. Downward facing dog

Image of woman in white pants and strappy sports bra demonstrating downward facing dog on a yoga mat.

What it targets

Downward facing dog will help stretch out tight calves, Achilles tendons (for more targeted Achilles work, see this article) and even glutes.

How to do it

  • Start in table top position (on hands and knees)
  • Press through the balls of your feet and into your palms
  • Lift the hips toward the sky
  • Allow the heels to sink down toward the floor as far as is comfortable


Woman on a beach in dye blue yoga pants and swim top performing down dog with one knee bent.
  • Walk your dog: alternately bend and straighten each knee to stretch one side and then the other
  • Bend one knee a lot, keeping the weight on the other leg in order to stretch just one side. Hold here and then switch to the other side.
  • Keep the heels close to the ground but give the knees a slight bend. You should feel this closer to the heels or in the Achilles.

2. Pigeon pose

Woman in green shirt and yoga pants performing pigeon pose.

What it targets

Pigeon pose will help stretch out runners’ notoriously tight glutes and piriformis.

How to do it

  • Start in table top position (on hands and knees)
  • Pull your left knee toward your left wrist
  • Stretch your right leg out behind you
  • Settle your weight onto your left hip
  • Stretch for a minute and then switch sides


  1. If you’re especially tight, place a yoga block or a rolled blanket or towel under the hip that you are stretching
  2. You can keep your arms straight or you can fold at the waist and bring your forehead toward the floor. Rest your head on a yoga block or on stacked fists or hands.
Woman in the dye pants and purple top performing reclining pigeon pose, resting head on hands.

3. If this pose is not doable for you yet, perform modified pigeon which is also known as the figure 4 piriformis stretch: lie on your back and cross your right ankle over you left knee. Reach behind your left thigh and pull your legs toward your abdomen. Repeat on the other side. Perform this modification until you have enough flexibilty for regular pigeon pose.

Woman in gray yoga clothes and long pony tail lying down doing figure 4 piriformis stretch, or modified pigeon pose.

3. Supine spinal twist

Woman in yoga clothes on blue mat performing supine spinal twist holding top leg extended.

What it targets

A spinal twist with the top leg out straight as shown above will help stretch the ITB (iliotibial band) as well as the glutes. It will also help with spinal rotation, which is integral to good running gait.

How to do it

  • Lie on your back
  • Bend both knees toward your chest
  • Allow the knees to fall to the left, creating a twist in the spine
  • Straighten out the top leg (in this case the right)
  • Hold for a minute and then switch sides


  1. You don’t need to hold the top leg with your hand. You can just position the leg where you feel a stretch and let gravity do the work.
  2. Hold the top leg with your hand or use a strap to assist. A belt, towel, dog leash or piece of rope will also do the trick.
  3. Straighten out the bottom leg as shown in the photo, or you can keep it bent.

Crescent lunge

Woman in white tank and gray pants performing standing crescent lunge.

What it targets

Lunge stretches help to increase flexibility in the hip flexors and even the quads

How to do it

  • Start in standing
  • Step the left leg forward into a lunge position, you should be up on the ball of the back foot.
  • Reach the arms up overhead
  • Hold for a minute and then switch sides


  1. Keep the arms down or hands on hips if you like.
  2. Drop the back knee and really lean into the lunge. Make sure you have a wide enough stance so that the front knee is NOT going over the front toes. This will protect your knee joint.
  3. Perform a slight side bend away from the side you are stretching. In the example shown, you would lean slightly toward the left. You should feel this more in the front of the right hip.

4 Yoga stretches for runners: 7 minutes

You can do this! Four extremely simple yet effective yoga stretches that you can do anywhere, any time and get it done quickly. There are lots of variations, depending on your level of flexibility and comfort.

These are the four best yoga stretches for runners. Do them regularly and you’ll help keep injuries at bay.


I’d love to hear from you. How do you keep flexible as a runner? Are you a religious stretcher or do you not-so-great about it?

Other Articles of Interest:

Cross Train to Become a Better Runner

Yoga for Back Pain

Yoga for Neck Pain

Yoga to Open the Heart

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