Many runners, cyclists and other sports enthusiasts struggle with the forward bending. They blame the obvious culprit, short hamstrings, for their limits in flexibility, but it can just as often be tight buttock muscles as well as hamstrings that are to blame. Runners will find that there are many benefits of yoga and these yoga poses for runners can help solve any issues you may be experiencing.

The largest and most powerful buttock muscles are the gluteals

They act to extend the hip giving us the ability to stand upright. They contract when we stand up, swing the leg behind us, externally rotate the hip and stabilize the hip in its socket. They also perform horizontal abduction which turns the leg out when the hip is bent to 90 degrees.

Strong glutes are essential for correctly positioning the thighbone in the hip socket, but when they are tight they can cause misalignment leading to back pain, SIJ strain and even disc bulges as well as knee pain. Long term shortness of these muscles may lead to hip pain and osteoarthritis because of the poor alignment of the femur head in the hip socket. They become short from sitting, especially cross- legged, running, cycling and squats.

Why do tight glutes stop me from bending forwards?

Gluteus maximus, which is the muscle that gives your buttocks their rounded shape, attaches to the sacrum, the bony triangle at the base of your spine, and extends across the back of the pelvis to attach at the top of the head of the thigh bone. In order to bend forwards your pelvis needs to tilt forwards, you must flex at the hips and the thighbones must turn inwards. Tight glutes oppose all of these actions by tilting the pelvis backwards and externally rotating the thigh bones – sports enthusiasts often suffer from this more than others.

Yoga poses for runners: gluteus maximus diagram

How can I stretch my glutes?

As well as attending classes such as yoga for cyclists, there are also 4 yoga poses for runners and sports enthusiasts that you can be practiced regularly at home in order to stretch glutes.

General guidelines: work within your limits.

Hold each side for 5-10 breaths.

Supine glute stretch:

Supine pose: yoga poses for runners

Props: the floor

Instructions: Lie on your back, bend up your knees

Cross the right ankle over the left knee.

Bring the left knee towards the chest while moving the right knee away from you.

Hold and breathe

Pigeon pose:

Pigeon pose: yoga poses for runnersPigeon pose: yoga poses for runners

Props: mat, blanket

Instructions: These are great yoga poses for tight hips.

Start either in all 4’s kneeling or in downward dog pose

Swing the right knee forwards between the hands.

Place the right shin diagonally across the mat.

Walk the left leg back behind you to bring the right buttock close to the floor (if it does not touch the floor fold a blanket underneath it.

Check that the left and right frontal hip bones are an even distance from the floor.

Hold for 5-10 breaths

Sitting glute stretch:

Sitting glute stretch: yoga poses for runners

Props: chair, 2 blocks

Sit on a chair

Place the outer right ankle on the left knee

Slowly bend forwards over the right thigh to take the hands towards the floor.

Gomukasana:

Gomukusana pose: yoga poses for runnersGomukusana pose: yoga poses for runners

Props: 1/2 3 folded blankets or a bolster.

Instructions: Start in kneeling on all 4’s

Place the narrow edge of the blankets between the feet.

Position the right thigh behind the left thigh.

Place the right foot on the left side of the blanket and the left foot on the right side of the blanket.

Sit between your feet with the left knee directly on top of the right.

Whilst these yoga poses are significantly efficient, there are a number of other yoga poses for runners that can help loosen hips and stretch glutes. If you’d like some more information on any of our classes or other poses, contact us today. Alternatively, check out our timetable and book your place at one of our classes.