Yoga For Runners: Improve Running Posture

Dr. Chloe doing camel pose. She is on her knees with her feet straight behind her with her hips and spine extended forward in a backbend reaching for her heels behind her.

Mobility-Doc is proud to present our new 4 week limited series Yoga for Runners led by Dr. Chloe!  This series explores how to practice different yoga poses to improve your running form and technique.  We aren’t just doing yoga though.  We’ll be using a primer that targets the key areas of mobility these yoga poses need to improve our running.  Without further ado, please enjoy week 1!

Are you a runner looking to improve your running form and prevent injuries?  As runners, we demand a lot from our bodies. Pounding the pavement mile after mile requires strength, endurance, and perhaps most importantly, proper mobility. One yoga pose that can greatly benefit runners is camel pose (ustrasana). Let’s explore how this deep backbend targets key areas for improved running posture.

How Camel Pose Relates To Running Posture

There are 3 key areas of mobility that camel pose requires.  They are thoracic extension, hip extension, and shoulder mobility.  Let’s explore how these 3 key areas of mobility directly relate to our running posture.  

Thoracic Mobility

Camel pose is an excellent way to increase thoracic (upper back) mobility. During the backbend, the thoracic spine extends, counteracting the rounding that often occurs from running with poor posture. Increased thoracic mobility allows you to maintain an upright, open posture while running.  The real takeaway… no more cringey hunched over race photos and better breathing!  Upright posture opens up your lungs to allow for more full breaths.

Shoulder Mobility

The shoulder mobility required in camel pose directly translates to running form. As you reach back toward your heels, the shoulders externally rotate and extend behind the body. This overhead shoulder mobility is crucial for maintaining an efficient running stride without excessive arm swing across the body.  An efficient arm swing without excessive cross-body motion helps you stay centered, balanced, and run faster. 

Hip Extension

One of the primary actions in camel pose is hip extension. The backbend movement initiates from the hip and stretches the hip flexors and quads, which can become tight and restricted from the repetitive flexion of running. Maintaining hip extension mobility prevents excessive anterior pelvic tilt and overstriding while running.  Not only that, but if you don’t have the right amount of hip extension, your glutes aren’t able to fire!  Which also means you’re missing out on efficiency and power.

John and Jon working on their 400m dash after John's return to running

Improving Your Running Posture

We’ll start by using camel pose as a pre-mobility assessment to gauge your current range of motion. This deep backbend stretches the hip flexors, quads, and opens up the front of the body.

Pre/Post Test: Camel Pose

If you’re new to yoga, this pose can look a little intimidating.  Don’t worry, we have 3 variations for you to try and will start from easiest to hardest.  While getting into this pose you want to take mental notes on how your body feels.  Is it tight?  Does something feel stuck?  Maybe you feel awesome!  The most important thing to remember is that this pose begins from your hip extension, not bending your knees more!  Keep that in mind as we go through the different variations:

Dr. Chloe demonstrating the easiest version of camel pose for yoga for runners.  She uses blocks to help support her as she leans into her backbend

 Grab some yoga blocks or something to help support you.  Get onto your knees with your feet behind you.  Place the blocks on the outside of your ankles.  Begin by extending your hips, then through your thoracic spine, lastly reach back for the blocks with your hands. 

Dr. chloe demonstrating  the medium difficulty version of camel pose which is with your toes tucked under to elevate your heels.  She is on her knees, extending through her hips and thoracic spine

Begin on your knees with your toes tucked underneath you.  Start by extending your hips, then thoracic spine.  Lastly, reach back for your heels with your hands.  You’ll grab them with your hands as you continue extending through your hips and spine

The full version of camel for yoga for runners to improve running posture - chloe is in full hip extension, thoracic extension, and reaching back clasping her heels in camel pose.

 Begin on your knees, feet flat behind you.  Start by extending through your hips, your thoracic spine, and lastly reach back for those heels.  

Pro Tip: The most common mistake people make when doing this pose is bending at the knees to go for the heels first.  Make sure you’re extending through those hips to initiate the movement towards your heels!

Camel Pose Primer

Now that we’ve completed the pre-test and you’ve taken some mental notes on how your body was feeling, it’s time to get into the primer.  For the primer we’ll work through three targeted exercises that will improve your mobility through your hips, thoracic spine, and shoulders to improve your running posture:

  1. Thoracic Extension Over a Foam Roller – Try to find all 12 spots in your middle/upper back!  
  2. Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Tuck your hips and squeeze your glute.  Hold for 30 seconds.
  3. Crab Rocks to Open the Shoulders – Press evenly up through your hands and feet to lift up.  Make sure you’re not over arching your spine! Do 10 reps
Dr. chloe laying on the floor with a foam roller underneath her middle back. She arches back over the roller to improve her thoracic extension as the first exercise in yoga for runners
Dr. Chloe in a split kneeling stance with her right leg in front, left knee on the ground. She is stretching her hip flexor on the left side
Dr. Chloe using both arms and legs to push up into a crab position with weight equally distributed through all hands and feet to improve her mobility

Post Test

Now that we’ve completed our primer, let’s revisit camel pose.  You can try 1 or all of the variations to compare them to how you were feeling pre-primer!  You should notice greater ease getting into the full backbend now that your hip flexors, upper back, and shoulders have been opened up.  

Follow Along With Dr. Chloe In This How To Yoga For Runners Video!

By integrating camel pose and other mobility work into your routine, you can improve running economy and reduce injury risk. Increased mobility allows your body to maintain proper form even as fatigue sets in during longer runs.

Remember, running is a full-body activity that requires mobility from head to toe. Don’t neglect areas like the upper back, shoulders, and hips. Incorporate yoga for runners like camel pose to unlock your mobility potential and run stronger for longer.  Stay tuned for next week!  We are going to be tackling hip openers!  We hope you enjoyed week 1 of Yoga for Runners and are excited to move into week 2!  Tag us and show us your pre and post test of camel pose on our instagram page!  We love to see what you think of the mobility work and how it’s helping you.

Get Lasting Shoulder Pain Relief

This comprehensive program is designed to help you regain full, pain-free range of motion in your shoulders. Whether you’re an athlete, a desk worker, or simply someone who wants to move with ease, our program will transform your shoulder mobility.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Targeted Release and Stretching Techniques
  • Activate Muscles Responsible For Movement
  • Strengthen and Integrate Newfound Movement 

Don’t let shoulder limitations hold you back any longer. Invest in MDRx Shoulder and experience the freedom of unrestricted movement. Move with confidence, reduce your risk of injury, and unlock your full potential. Your journey to optimal shoulder mobility starts here.

Follow Us

Recent Posts

Let's keep in touch!

Receive updates when our blog, featuring the latest health and wellness information, is released along with other special events – No, we won’t send you things every day, but once or twice a week!

Dr. Chloe and John