A lot of runners experience stiffness in their hips. Tree pose is a readily accessible yoga post for most people that can help you open your hips, stretch the inner thigh of the bent leg, strengthen the muscles of the standing leg, all while working on your balance as an extra bonus!
Tree Pose: Good post run hip stretch
Tree Pose, when done correctly, can help stretch out those tight hip muscles after a run. It also really challenges your balance — which means that while props are not needed, you might want to practice tree pose near something you can hold onto.
The goal of Tree Pose is not to get your foot as high on your thigh as possible — for many people that will cause one hip to hike higher than the other. Do you want to train your body to run with hips not in a neutral position? Trust me, you don’t, and trying to go deeper into the pose than your body is capable of can cause injury.
Also be aware of where your foot is on the straight leg: you do not want it directly on your knee! Above or below the knee joint, please.
Your hips do not need to be — in fact, should not be — pressed back in line with your body. This also causes most people’s hips to be out of alignment.
- Inner thigh
- All muscles of the standing leg
- Have something nearby (a wall, a pole, a tree) if you have balance issues
- Protect your knee by placing the bent leg on the ankle of your standing leg (for knee issues)
- Keep hands on hips if you have shoulder problems
Watch Out For
- Standing leg is leaning inward or outward
- Foot on your knee — this can put a lot of stress on your knee joint
- Shoulders elevated
- Hips not level, side to side, up and down — or both!
- Booty sticking out (spine out of neutral)
How to Modify It
It’s very important to take your ego out of the picture to truly reap the benefits of Tree Pose. You don’t have to hike your foot up super high to get a good stretch and strengthen your legs at the same time.
- Keep foot of bent leg on the floor, propped up on your toes
- Bring foot of bent leg to your shin
- Practice near something to hold onto (like a chair) if you have balance issues
- Practice near a wall, either to hold onto or to lean back into
- If you find your shoulders creeping up towards your ears, bend your elbows so they’re in a goal post shape
Now let’s get into Tree Pose
- Stand at the top of your mat with your big toes together, hands on hips
- Inhale and engage your abs
- Bend one knee, and place your foot on your straight leg at a point (above or below your knee) that keeps your hips level
- Push your foot into your leg and your leg into your foot to help keep your balance
- Think about hugging everything into the midline of your body to help keep your balance
- Keep your gaze on a single object in front of you to help keep your balance
- Try taking your hands together at your heart center
- Slowly raise your arms towards the ceiling, while continuing to gaze ahead at a single object
- If your shoulders start to hike up, slightly bend your elbows, soften your shoulders, and see if you can straighten your arms without elevating your shoulders
- If you fall out of your tree, no big deal, just start over!
- As you hold this pose for several breaths, remember to press everything into the midline of your body to create more balance and a straight spine.
- Slowly lower your arms and leg.
- Pause, notice if you feel differently side to side.
- Repeat Tree Pose on the second side.
You can also stretch over towards the bend knee to get a nice side body stretch, but it’s more difficult to balance in that variation of the pose
Do you have a yoga pose you’d like to see featured here?
Do you have a favorite arm variation for Tree Pose?
If you try Tree Pose after a run, let me know how it felt!