Simple Stretch – Legs up the wall

Simple Stretch – Legs up the wall

17 October 2015 by Caitlin Armit

One of the most common things I hear people say in the clinic is that they don’t stretch! It’s one of those things that people know they should do but it seems to be a daunting task for many. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know what to do or they feel that it’s a waste of time because they’re so used to running around leading busy lives and being productive. My usual starting strategy is to teach very simple stretches which they can incorporate into their daily lives, and that don’t require a great deal of technique. So here’s my favourite go-to stretch: legs up the wall. The yoga name for this is Vipariti Karani and it is a restorative pose that improves circulation and calms your nervous system.

Now I’m no yoga instructor but through my personal experience I’ve found this to be extremely useful as a fascia & muscular stretch as well as a wind-down at the end of a long day. It also relieves tired legs and swelling of the ankles.

So here’s what to do:


  1. Find a wall with a decent amount of floor space below it
  2. Sit sideways right beside the wall, roll onto your back and pivot your body so that your legs are straight up the wall with your buttocks against the wall and your back on the ground. If this is too difficult, you can sit on a pillow or bolster to create an angle larger than 90 degrees.
  3. Relax! Consciously let your hips sink into the floor and let your belly rise and fall as your breathe naturally.
  4. While you’re down there it might be a good opportunity to stretch your arms out to the side so that they are in line with the tops or your shoulders (palms facing up). This can help to stretch your pectoral muscles and the tendons in front of your shoulders and to rotate your shoulder joints backwards – a nice contrast to the positions they’re usually in when you’re working at your computer or driving or doing other daily activities.
  5. From here, you can also bend your elbows so that your fingers are pointing above your head. If your arms don’t touch the ground, just use a small cushion to fill the gap between your arms and the floor. You may find that after a few minutes you can comfortably remove the cushion. Try pulling your shoulder blades together at the back so that they are flat on the ground but make sure that you are not tensing your lower back or breathing awkwardly.
  6. Check to make sure that your head and neck are relaxed and take note of any areas which feel particularly tight.
  7. Stay in this position for 5-15 minutes – just close your eyes and feel the ‘qi’
  8. To come out of the position slowly bend and lower your legs to your chest, wiggle your toes and ankles a little bit. If you prefer, as you lower your legs bring your feet together and let your knees fall out to the side for a bit of a hip opening stretch and then when you’re ready gently roll onto your side and make your way back to sitting.

Ta da! There is your super simple starter stretch to start doing daily or at least several times per week. It’s a great way to end your day or just have a mini-break in the early afternoon.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

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