I’m going for longest blog title in history… It’s funny because I was mulling the title ‘Yoga for Runners, Cyclists and anybody else with tight quads or ankles’ thinking it’s a bit long-winded. Then I posted a preview photo on instagram and our friend, and dedicated student, Debbie told me that rowing is all about the quads, propelling their skulls with repeated squat-like motion, so I wanted to show the rowers out there some love. Anybody else with tight quads or ankles continue reading, also.
I was inspired to develop a sequence for tight ankles after recently working with an avid cyclist one on one. Additionally, it’s bike month here in Norfolk and it’s the time of year where many of us are getting active outside again. Rowing, running, and cycling are fun activities and great ways to enjoy the outdoors! These activities do involve a lot of repetitive motion, isolating a lot of muscle strength and stamina into the lower body. I’m sure I’m missing many other activities that also tighten the legs, so feel free to inform me in the comment section below.
Whether you are recovering from sport, or simply looking for a short stretching routine, or just generally tight in the fronts of the legs this sequence targeted to open the quads and ankles will help restore balance and release tension in the lower body. While practicing these poses keep your awareness primarily focused to your most tight areas, and make sure to breathe deeply into them.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana) – In addition to loosening the ankles, this pose will warm up your thighs for the deeper stretches to come. Eagle is also great for improving balance and concentration. The arm position stretches the shoulders and opens the upper back. Engage your abdominal muscles, keep your gaze on a steady point, and remain focused.
Garland Pose (Malasana ) – This is a great pose for those tighter in the lower body because it deeply stretches your hips and inner groin. Often it’s not just our quads that our tight, but these surrounding areas, also. The flexion at the ankle joint will bring warmth and sensation, so remain connected to your breath to release tension. If you are unable to bring your heels down, try going a little wider with your feet and/or place a rolled up yoga mat or folded blanket under your heels.
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – This pose provides another valuable stretch for active bodies, lengthening the backs of the legs. The toning of the quads and flexion at the ankle are great counter stretches for this sequence, and can be added in at any interval. Elongate your spine and firm the arms in to stabilize your shoulders. Tighter yogis bend your knees.
Half Frog Pose (Ardha Bhekasana) – To come into this pose lie prone, then lift your chest and prop up onto your forearms. Bend one knee and reach back to take hold of the foot, gently pull the foot in towards your back body. Keep your knees hip-width apart. Breathe deeply as you open the front of the leg and gauge how much stretch is just right for you.
Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana) variation – I find this to be the deepest quad stretch in the sequence, and one of the more intense quad and inner groin stretches in yoga. It requires balance, so stabilize into the earth through your front foot. Notice, the front knee is forward of the ankle, and the back knee is behind the hips. The ankles are being stretched in different directions. Let the pelvis sink down and forward. For more stability hold the back foot with one hand and place your other hand on the front thigh. Lift through the center of your chest. Breathe expansion through the entire front body. Be joyful.
Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana) – Last, but certainly not least, reclined hero pose is another terrific opener for the quads and ankles. It will require a little set up and a handful of props. I am lying back over 2 folded blankets, one supporting the torso and one behind the head. For those of you really tight in the thighs, a bolster or several folded blankets may be required; or simply walk your hands back or lower onto your forearms for support. Additionally, a strap or belt could be placed around the thighs and shins to keep the knees from widening. You want to make sure that you’re not experiencing pain in the knees or lower back. Welcome ease and relaxation as you breathe in. Release tension as you breathe out.
Close your session with a few minutes in corpse pose (savasana) and/or seated meditation.
These six poses can transform tight quads and ankles into strong and supple muscles with regular practice. Remain patient with yourself and breathe, breathe, breathe.
Your humble guide,