Jackie Lai demonstrates the locust pose.

Yoga for Runners: Locust pose for hamstring strengthening

By Jackie Lai

Our body needs to be strong and flexible to prevent injuries. Previously, in my article about the ragdoll pose for hamstring release, I focused on why being flexible helps prevent hamstring injuries.

When we do any physical activity — whether that’s standing, walking, running or cycling — we need our muscles to be strong enough to support us. Our muscles are where our body stores energy to propel us forward.

First, let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy and biomechanics of the running gait cycle.

A gait cycle is the motion between when a foot makes contact with the ground until that same foot hits the ground again. There are two phases in a gait cycle: The stand phase (when one foot is on the ground) and the swing phase (when that same foot is off the ground, swings forward, and gets ready for the next contact with the ground). Our hamstrings support us in the stand phase and propel us during the swing phase.

If we have weak hamstrings, the muscles might not be able to fully support us when our foot hits the ground. This weakness might cause knee pain. Stronger hamstrings will provide you with greater propulsion, especially when running uphill!

Try this simple locust pose to strengthen your hamstrings. This also strengthens your glutes and back! It’s a win, win, win for the whole backline of your body!

  • Lay on your belly with your forehead on the mat
  • Let your arms be wherever it is comfortable (They can be by your hips, palms facing down or try goal post arms)
  • Bring your legs together. Imagine there is a zipper between your legs and you are going to zip them up (Note: if this is uncomfortable on the low back, bring your feet hip-width distance apart)
  • Take a breath in and on your exhale, lift your legs off the ground
  • Hold this pose for a few breaths. Feel the engagement in the hamstrings, glutes and back
  • Release the pose. Rest for a few moments and repeat

Optional: Lift your torso as well. This will strengthen your upper back too!

Jackie Lai demonstrates the locust pose.
Jackie Lai demonstrates the locust pose with goal post arms.
Jackie Lai demonstrates the locust pose.
Try lifting your torso for upper back strengthening.

Enjoy and until then,

Keep being you, the world needs more you!


Yoga for Runners is a recurring series appearing on the Brainsport blog. Check out our previous articles below:

Jackie Lai is a registered yoga instructor, certified yoga sport coach and triathlon coach based in Saskatoon. Learn more at jackielai.ca.