Not to be dramatic, but the first time I did “legs up the wall” in a yoga class, my life was forever changed. The pose involves scooting your butt to the edge of the floor and swinging your legs into the air, and—for me, at least—it was love at first inversion. Go figure! Recently, I learned that LUTW (as I’ve come to call it) just scratches the surface of ooey-gooey wall stretches. Trainer Alex Crockford’s stretches have me asking, “Foam roller who?”
In a YouTube video, the trainer breaks down moves to lengthen out your hamstrings, hip, shoulders, quads, and more (and bonus, his very cute cat makes a cameo). “Flexibility is not just for super, super flexible yogis—it’s for everybody,” says the trainer. Spending time nurturing your muscles will lengthen extra-tight spots, improve your posture, and help prevent future injuries. So once you’re sporting the appropriate gear, find your favorite of the four walls boxing you in—LOL—and settle in for some wall R&R.
6 wall stretches to improve your flexibility
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Complete two to three sets total. If you find an extra tight area, linger a bit longer or complete an extra set.
1. Legs up the wall: Bring your body parallel to the wall and lie down. Lift your legs straight up, pivoting so that your legs are pointing straight up at the ceiling. Try to get your hips as close to the wall as possible. Feel the stretch through the hamstrings and keep your lower back planted on the ground. From the position you’re already in, simply spread your legs into a V-shape. This will get into your groin and abductors. “Be really gentle with this one,” says Crockford. Ease into it and keep your feet pointing the same direction as your knee caps.
2. Wall squat: Back away from the wall just a little so that you can plant your feet firmly on the wall in a horizontal squat position. Turn your feet out slightly and, again, make sure your back remains flat against the ground. You should feel this in your groin, hamstring, glutes, and hips. If you want to go deeper, simply move closer to the wall.
3. Figure four: Scoot your hips back so that they’re directly under your knees and your toes to hips form a 90-degree angle. Cross your left ankle above the right knee. You’ll feel the stretch across you hips and glutes. Instead of tensing the muscles, let your weight fall into the wall. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!
4. Runner’s lunge: Grab a pillow and come into a lunge position on your right side with your back knee bent and the top of the left foot on the wall. Slowly come up and feel the stretch across your quads and hips. Engage your abs to take the tilt out of your spine. Switch sides.
5. Puppy pose: Come to hands and knees and walk your hands up the wall so they’re above your head. Your hips should be directly above your knees. Stretch out your chest and roll back your shoulders.
6. Rolling panda: Stand up with your stomach pressed against the wall. Bring your left arm straight out into a T-shape and place your right hand directly beside your right shoulder. Roll onto your left shoulder and look to your right. Repeat on the opposite side.
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