Yoga for Runners: 3 moves to open up your chest

Training for a fall race or marathon? Get tips from Yoga for Athletes' Emilie Smith on how to improve your running posture and breathe better.
runner posture breathing All week on Well+Good, Emilie Smith, creator of Yoga for Athletes, has been teaching runners how to deal with common trouble spots—like hamstrings and IT bands—with yoga.

Another common phenomenon? “Runners are so focused on their lower body, that they forget about their upper body,” Smith says. “You’re curled forward the entire time you’re running.”

And bad posture doesn’t only impact your Facebook photos—it could affect your race time, by messing up your range of motion and your breathing.

“Rounding of the upper back translates into a shortage of breath because the chest is really tight and constricted,” Smith explains. “You set your pace with your breath, and if it’s short, you’re not able to run efficiently.”

It’s time to uncurl with these three moves… —Lisa Elaine Held

Photos: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good


Get Started
runner's stretch 1. Arm Raise with Strap

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and hold the strap with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, keeping your arms straight. Reach your arms forward, up, and back behind you. Then bring them back up, over your head and down in front of you.

Continue the motion for 5–10 breaths, warming up the shoulder girdle and opening up the chest. Be sure to keep a straight spine—don’t push your chest forward or or round the back as you move your arms.



runner's stretch 2. Floor Chest Opener

Lay flat on your stomach and extend your arms out to the sides in a T, palms flat against the floor. Bend your right arm at the elbow, creating a 90-degree angle. Slide your left hand in and place your palm directly under your left shoulder. Bend the knees and lift your feet. Then, slowly move your body onto your right side, pressing into your left palm and right hip. Stay here for one minute and then repeat on the opposite side.



runner's stretch for good posture and breathing 3. Goddess Pose with Block

Lay on your back and place a block directly below your shoulder blades. If the block feels uncomfortable, try using a bolster or pillow instead. Press the soles of your feet together, letting your knees drop out to the sides and relax the arms onto the floor, palms facing up. Stay here, allowing your chest to open up, for 3–5 minutes.



Emilie Smith

More Reading

Yoga for Runners: 3 poses to help your hamstrings

Yoga for Runners: 3 moves to stretch your hard-to-reach IT bands

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