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Pre-Race Yoga Stretching Routine for Runners and Triathletes

As a runner or triathlete, you know the importance of preparing your body for a race. One essential aspect of pre-race preparation is a proper stretching routine. Incorporating yoga stretches into your pre-race routine can significantly benefit your running performance and help prevent injury. In this article, we will guide you through the ultimate pre-race yoga stretching routine, designed specifically for runners and triathletes.

Woman in yoga pigeon pose

Why Yoga Stretches?

Yoga stretches are particularly effective for runners and triathletes due to their ability to target common areas of tightness and tension in the body. These stretches can help improve flexibility, increase range of motion, and promote better running form. Additionally, yoga stretches can help alleviate muscle soreness and aid in post-race recovery.

Now, let's get into the pre-race yoga stretching routine:

Downward Dog

Primary Focus: Tight hamstrings and calves.

  1. Start by getting into the downward dog position with your body forming a triangle.

  2. Pedal out your legs by lifting one heel and then the other while teasing your heels closer to the mat.

  3. Spend about 2 minutes in this pose, focusing on stretching your hamstrings and calves.

  4. This pose also provides a gentle stretch for your shoulders.

Low Lunge

Primary Focus: Hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads.

  1. From the downward dog position, raise your right leg into the sky behind you.

  2. Bring your right leg forward, placing your foot between your hands.

  3. Drop your back knee onto the mat and raise your hands towards the sky.

  4. Feel the deep stretch in your groin area and hold for 10 breaths.

  5. Repeat on the other side.

Runner's Lunge

Primary Focus: Hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads.

  1. From the downward dog position, raise your right leg into the sky behind you.

  2. Bring your right leg forward, placing your foot on the outside and in line with your right hand.

  3. Keep your back leg lifted for an even deeper stretch.

  4. Hold this position for 5 breaths, then drop your back knee.

  5. Place your right hand on the inside of your right leg and gently guide it to open up more to the side, deepening the stretch in your groin.

  6. Hold for 5 breaths.

  7. If comfortable, plant both forearms on the mat, on the inside of your right foot, and hold for 10 breaths.

  8. Repeat on the other side.

Toes Pose

Primary Focus: Preventing plantar fasciitis by improving toe and foot flexibility.

  1. Kneel on the mat and curl your toes under, then sit your back on your heels.

  2. Hold this position for 10 breaths, feeling the stretch on the underneath side of your feet.

  3. Flatten your feet while pointing your toes behind you.

  4. Actively lift your knees into the air to stretch the top of your feet, shins, and arches.

Butterfly Pose

Primary Focus: Strengthens and opens hips and groin.

  1. Sit in a seated position with your legs out in front of you.

  2. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, as close to your pelvis as possible.

  3. Hold your toes and work your knees towards the floor for 10 breaths.

  4. Use your hands to peel the top part of your feet open, pressing your elbows into your knees.

  5. Hold for another 10 breaths.

  6. For a variation, lie down on your back with your legs in the soles-touching-knees-out position.

  7. Stretch out your arms towards the wall behind you and hold for 10 breaths.

Seated Spinal Twist

Primary Focus: Loosening the stiff spine, neck, and shoulders.

  1. Sit with your legs out in front of you.

  2. Cross your right leg over the left, knee pointed towards the sky, and the sole of your foot on the ground.

  3. Place your left palm on the floor at the base of your spine.

  4. Reach your right arm across your body and push it against the outside of your right thigh, near your knee, to deepen the twist.

  5. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Cow Face Pose

Primary Focus: Hips.

  1. Start on all fours and cross your right knee over the left, stacking one on top of the other.

  2. Sit down between your legs, rooting both sit bones on the mat.

  3. If this position is challenging, try the reclined version by lying down on your back.

  4. Cross your knees and send your feet out to the sides.

  5. Hold onto your feet or shins and gently pull your heels in towards your body, then out to the sides and slightly up.

  6. Hold for 10 breaths, then switch leg positions and repeat.

Reclining Pigeon

Primary Focus: Releases tension and tightness in the hips.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, thighs parallel and hip-distance apart.

  2. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh.

  3. Reach your left arm through the space between your thighs and your right arm around the outside of your right thigh.

  4. Clasp your hands below your right knee and flex your left foot.

  5. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.


Primary Focus: Shoulders and core.

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the ground in front of your bum, toes facing forwards.

  2. Place your arms alongside your torso, with your fingertips touching your ankles.

  3. Slowly lift your lower back, middle back, and upper back off the ground.

  4. Hold your hips up as high as you can for 10 breaths.

  5. Release slowly back down.

  6. For the second bridge, clasp your hands underneath you to open up your shoulders further.

  7. Roll your shoulder blades towards each other and create more lift.

  8. This counterpose helps alleviate the hunching forward often associated with running.

Legs Up Against the Wall

Primary Focus: Relieves tension in legs and feet, stretches hamstrings and glutes.

  1. Slide up beside an open wall space, with your hips as close to the base of the wall as is comfortable.

  2. Swing your legs up the wall and lie back.

  3. Rest here for 10 breaths to 10 minutes, allowing your legs and feet to relax.

  4. This pose provides a gentle stretch for your hamstrings and glutes.

Get Started!

Incorporating a pre-race yoga stretching routine into your training regimen can greatly benefit your running or triathlon performance. These stretches help increase flexibility, improve range of motion, and prevent injuries. Remember to listen to your body, warm up properly, and stay hydrated throughout the routine. By dedicating time to stretch and prepare your body, you'll be ready to tackle your race with optimal performance and reduce the risk of post-race soreness.

So, make time for this ultimate pre-race yoga stretching routine and watch your running or triathlon performance soar to new heights!


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