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Five "Must Do" Yoga Poses for Runners & Triathletes

As endurance athletes, we need to maintain a certain amount of flexibility, strength and balance to do what we love. Although you may love to run, cycle or swim, it isn’t enough to keep yourself injury free. Yoga can offer endurance athletes a way to integrate balance, strength, mobility and breath work into their everyday sports. Additionally, yoga is a great place to cultivate mental discipline and a calm mind, both of which are required to be a successful endurance athlete.

There are several yoga poses that are beneficial to endurance athletes, so if you can make it work, adding one or two yoga classes into your routine would be ideal. However if it is unrealistic, here are five yoga poses that are fairly easy to do but will be very beneficial. Good luck!

Pose: Downward dog

Benefits: improves thoracic extension, shoulder extension, core activation, calf and lower leg stretching

Why it helps endurance athletes: Thoracic extension is important for swimming and running form, shoulder mobility is needed for your swim stroke and knowing how to activate your core while breathing is important for all exercise, as for endurance athletes multiple hours running and on the bike cause increased tightness in the calf and lower leg muscles.

Pose: Chair with rotation

Benefits: great for leg strength, hip mobility, foot/ankle strength and spine and shoulder mobility

Why it helps endurance athletes: This pose is fantastic for leg and glute strength, even without the rotation. However, adding the rotation challenges balance and stretches throughout the neck, mid-back and lower back. Many endurance athletes feel tightness in their shoulders and between their shoulder blades - this pose allows you to get into those difficult areas to stretch. As a bonus, focusing on your breathing while here further stretches the rib cage and spine.

Pose: Tree pose

Benefits: hip mobility, balance/proprioception needed in single leg strength, core stability

Why it helps endurance athletes: Running is a single leg sport, so if you are an endurance athlete it is important to be able to balance on one leg and be able to control your pelvis while on one leg. This pose is a great way to teach your glutes how to dynamically stabilize your pelvis on one leg. I also like the fact that the other leg is actively rotating. If you do this in bare feet and manage your arch, you will knock out arch and foot strength/stability too!

Pose: Cobra/up-dog