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Wellness > Health

Goodbye Muscle Soreness: Post-Run Yoga Has Changed My Life

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

If you’ve ever struggled with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness the day after an incredible run, this article is for you!

I restarted my running journey about two months ago after finally recovering from a broken foot, but this time, things were a little different. My leg muscles were not used to prolonged movement after months of resting, and muscle soreness would knock me out for days following a run. I only did dynamic stretches to warm up before a run and avoided stretching afterwards — partly out of laziness, partly because the static stretches I tried didn’t really same to make a difference.

Typically, I practice yoga on my non-running days, but a couple weeks ago, I decided to do 40 minutes of yoga after my 4-mile evening run. Why? I was procrastinating on an assignment due at midnight. I chose to do Yin Yoga, which is characterized by longer holds for the poses and deep stretching. The 40 minutes went by in a breeze and I felt great afterwards, with double the endorphins and double the exhaustion. However, the real surprise was the day after — I kept waiting for the muscle soreness to hit, but it never did! I tried Yin Yoga after my subsequent runs and quickly discovered that it aided not just my muscle recovery, but also the overall quality of runs. I loved how it allowed me to unwind and slow down after an extended period of fast movement.

Now, post-run yoga is an essential part of my running routine, and I highly recommend it to fellow-runners! If you’re looking for a place to get started, here are some of my favorite Yin Yoga poses:

Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-knee pose)

This forward fold is a complete leg stretch, from your ankles to your hips. It also stretches your back muscles, adding to deep relaxation after a long workout. There are a couple variations you can try for a different boost (eg: a spinal twist instead of a fold).

Ardha Hanumanasana (half monkey pose)

Your hamstrings will thank you for practicing this pose! While this is a preparatory pose for full splits (Hanumasana), just practicing this pose by itself really opens up the hamstrings and prevents lower body injury.

Anjaneyasana (low lunge pose)

This is the perfect follow-up/lead-up to the previous pose! It helps strengthen the core and correct posture while providing significant post-workout relief.

Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero POse)

A restorative pose that stretches out your tired quads and hip flexors after running up and down all the hills around UCLA! It is a bit tricky to do if you’re not the most flexible, so I recommend variations such as Virasana (Hero Pose) or Ardha Supta Virasana (Half Reclining Hero Pose) to start out and build your way from there over time.

There are a lot more Yin Yoga poses that target the lower-body, so I encourage you to explore and find the ones that work best for you. As a reminder: yoga can do more damage than good if done incorrectly — do not force your body into stretches! Instead, focus on good alignment and check-in with how your body feels during the breathwork flow. Following a tutorial or learning from an in-person instructor is a great way to get started.

I hope you try and experience the transformative power of yoga for post-run recovery!

Swathya is a third-year Astrophysics major at UCLA, from New Delhi, India. A poet at her core, she spends a lot of time picking apart the intricacies of modern life to reconstruct the bigger picture as a way to find her place within the enigmatic universe. When she is not surrounded by a galaxy of words—academic and creative—she loves surrounding herself with people she can go on little adventures with to find the best caffeine and sugary treats in town.