I want to thank Dr. Debbie Powers, Assistant Professor Emerita of Wellness at Ball State University, for turning me on to Legs Up The Wall. I’m not a yoga person but as you can see by the picture you don’t have to be into yoga to practice this position.
All you need is a wall. Any wall will do. You can even use a door. Just make sure it’s closed so that the pressure you place on the door doesn’t cause it to open unexpectedly.
This restorative pose is great for relaxation and circulation. And it can benefit anyone.
Benefits of Legs Up The Wall
This is a pretty simple exercise to master. Simply lie on your back and try to get your butt as close to the wall as possible. You will want to extend your legs up the wall with your heels resting against the wall or door.
Please note: For some people your hamstrings (the muscles in the back of your legs) are going to be too tight for you to get your butt all the way to the wall or door. Don’t worry. The key is to rest your heals against the wall with your legs as straight as possible. As you perform this exercise your hamstring will gradually relax and you’ll be able to eventually get your butt against the wall for maximum results.
Also, some people will not have the initial abdominal core strength to get into this position. So if this is the case, then take it slow but stick with it to develop your core strength.
Here are the benefits that Dr. Powers identified for legs up the wall:
The gravity effect increases circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid in the legs.
Calms the mind and relieves anxiety.
Refreshes tired leg muscles.
Relives mild backaches.
Helps with varicose veins, menstrual cramps, and digestive problems.
Stretches the hamstrings.
Reduces swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles.
Additional Tips for Legs Up The Wall
You might want to use some padding under your lower back or neck. Personally I would recommend, especially for older adults, a small pillow under your head and neck. This will prevent your head from going back too far, which could create dizziness due to changes in your inner ear.
If you combine this position with slow, rhythmic breathing you will help to create an even deeper relaxation mode. And while Dr. Powers doesn’t mention this, slow rhythmic breathing, with your mouth closed, will enhance the ability of your nasal cavities to produce higher levels of nitric oxide. This will then relax your respiratory system and help decrease pulmonary arterial pressures.
If you add the humming technique used in yoga, then you’ll increase your ability to create nitric oxide for improved lung and pulmonary function.
Finally, this is a simple technique that you can do anywhere. Inside or outside. At home or on a trip. My only suggestion is not to do this at the airport as you might invite security to ask you what you’re doing.
So take 10 minutes to use this technique called Legs Up The Wall to renew your energy and help you better cope with the stress of life.