Legs up the wall stretch pose
Health

The awesome health benefits of the legs up the wall stretch pose!

Known as the “viparita karina” pose in yoga, this “legs up the wall” posture has excellent therapeutic benefits. It’s an easy to do position that anyone can do. Nothing complicated except maybe for its name!! It doesn’t require strength nor flexibility. It is a passive exercise. It builds a connection between the body and the mind. I try to do it every day to restore my soul and body. It brings me into a deep state of relaxation. I feel renewed!

As ancient yoga texts claim, the inverted gravity resulting from ‘the legs up the wall’ stretch pose, is believed to destroy old age?!

No doubt, its many health benefits are worth a try.

It increases the blood circulation

  • Relieves swollen ankles and feet

Excess fluid build up causes water retention in the legs and feet. You may have heard of swollen ankles or feet? Raising your legs straight up against the wall helps reduce the swelling and pain in those lower extremities because it increases the blood circulation and thus stimulates the venous drainage.

  • Prevents varicose veins

This inverted vertical position facilitates the return of the blood back to the heart, relieving the pressure off the veins and preventing getting varicose veins. Too much pressure on the veins causes them to stretch, expand and lose in elasticity. Physical activity such as both too many hours of sitting or standing, weighs on our legs and feet.

  • Soothes tired legs and calms menstrual cramps

This “active inversion” brings great relief by removing the tension in your legs, feet and hips.

By relaxing your belly, it reduces the pain incited by menstrual cramps. However, the increase of the blood flow causes your period to be a bit heavier afterwards.

It facilitates digestion

Raising your legs above the pelvic area improves digestion because it loosens the fluids and more nutrients are absorbed. It also helps bowel movements avoiding constipation and bloating.

It conditions the mind for a deeper self-awareness

The heart rate lowers and it relaxes the nervous system. You will feel more calm both emotionally and physically. It improves your breathing because more air is inhaled, reducing stress, anxiety and insomnia. Balanced deeper breathing allows for the brain to receive more oxygen, helping get a better sleep.

It relaxes the mind, improving our mental health by relieving cerebral tensions. The slow, in and out, rhythmic breathing releases the strains in our muscles, belly and sinuses. It relieves headaches.

Finally, it calms the whole abdomen area, providing a nice restorative exercise to the pelvis.

It lessens lower backache

With a cushion placed under the lower back, legs straightened, this inverted pose diminishes the pressure on the spine, soothing lower back and pelvic pain.

It improves flexibility

As any stretching positions, it helps get more flexible and improves mobility. The curve of the spine being reduced, this stretch particularly strengthens the legs, abdominal muscles and elongates the hamstrings.

It’s easy to do: here are the simple steps

  • Wear loose comfortable clothes such as pyjamas. Tight workout clothes will restrict your ankles, legs and will refrain proper blood flow. The purpose is the opposite! We want to improve blood circulation!
  • Place a small cushion under the lower back, ensuring a balanced and comfy posture.
  • Place your feet and legs vertically, up against the wall, bringing your bottom as close as possible, almost perpendicular to the wall. This will enable your legs to really stretch and expand.
  • Lie down and rest your head and shoulders on the floor.
  • Stretch and relax your arms at your sides, hands and palms facing up. You can also have your hands rest on your chest or tummy. Whatever feels best for you at the moment!
  • Close your eyes to keep distractions away and be more conscious about your body.
  • Slowly start breathing in and out. Take a deep breath, inhaling through the nose counting to 5, exhaling out the mouth counting to 5.
  • Stay in this position 5 up to 20 minutes for maximum results!
  • When finished, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs to the left or right, whatever feels better for you. Carefully put yourself back into a sitting position. Do not do this too suddenly as you could hurt your back.

Do not worry if your sit bones do not touch the wall. Make sure though that you are not the one carrying your thigh bones, but the wall should. The whole purpose is to let go of all tensions and efforts. You should feel at ease. If not, move away from the wall and try different heights of support.

Alternatives to add an extra stretch

  • Place a small towel under your neck for better support.
  • Spread your legs into a great ‘V’ shape to further stretch your hips and thighs.
  • Bring your heels and the soles of your feet together, bending your knees. Slide your feet down the wall towards your pelvis.
  • If you are flexible, you can use a higher support under your lower back.

To the wall!

Such a simple pose for such numerous health benefits and physical relief! It reduces water retention in your legs preventing getting varicose veins; relieves fatigue and tired legs, menstrual cramps and backaches; calms your mind leaving you in a state of pure being; facilitates digestion; oxygenates your brain regulating your respiratory system and improves your flexibility.

This upside-down gentle position is the best move you can do before going to bed, after a long flying trip, an exhausting work day sitting at the office, a long walk, a workout training etc…

Remember, to get a maximum good blood flow, do not bend your body to a full 90 degree because it cuts the circulation at your hips. Keep your buttocks a few inches away from the wall.

Finally, do not perform this posture and consult a doctor if you have a back injury. It is mainly a restful practice. It doesn’t heal you from diseases such as restless leg syndrome nor chronic pain.

If you have any questions or simply desire to share about your personal experience, please leave your comment below.

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24 Comments

  1. Great article! I’m more of a ‘strength’-guy, myself. However, I am also trying to become a bit more flexible and less tight. Most of the stretching exercises I do aren’t necessarily relaxing, whereas your wall stretch pose you’re describing IS, as I’ve just found out. So thanks for that and keep up the good work!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      As a strength guy, it is important to add stretching to your routine to prevent injuries. This one is so simple and relaxing to your body and mind. It will be a great add-on. 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Thank you for posting this article! I had never heard of or seen that exercise before. Now I’m going to try it; seriously, right after I finish commenting. I definitely can use all the benefits you mentioned.
    Your site has a lot of great information. I’m going to keep coming back!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Great that you found out about this simple pose as it is really beneficial to you!! Thank you!!

  3. Rodarrick says:

    well, to some instance, i found this to be shocking though. I do this virtually every night without knowing the significance. Since my bed is closer to the wall, so i always make sure to engage in this almost every night. Thankfully I know the appropriate way to do it now and I will surely start to give this a trial henceforth. I like the restful feeling it gives and the pressure free routine it is. Great one here

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      It’s cool that you’ve been doing it without knowing how good it is for you!! Thank you!

  4. Selenity Jade says:

    OOOH!  I’m totally going to be doing this after I finish commenting.  I’ve been teaching myself yoga because of anxiety and back pain, and I also have arthritis that is causing pain in my feet and joints in my lower back.  I’ll have to check this one out.  I have only started with simple exercises like the child pose and the cat-cow stretching, to help relieve my back, plus downward facing dog.  But Legs up the wall pose looks like my next winner.  Thanks for this!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      yes it is beneficial for arthritis as well! Thank you!

  5. Henderson says:

    Oh, this is a very good one. I have been looking for an easy exercise for me to do to help me with the way i do my exercises. Luckily for me, this one is not so hard and i remember doing stuff like this in my teens but i didn’t think that it was as beneficial as all the benefits that you have written here. This is very nicely done. I will make sure i try this one at home with the steps you have given.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      It is such a simple, effortless exercise! Great you will try it! Thank you!

  6. Andrew says:

    Hi Anne-Caroline,

    I really enjoyed reading your article about the health benefits of the against the wall stretch pose.

    In fact I liked it so much I am upside down whilst writing this! I have recently started practising yoga with my eldest daughter and wonder if you would recommend the pose for children (she is 16, but my younger children may be interested)? Thanks in advance, Andrew

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Yes it is a great gentle exercise for children as well! Thank you!

  7. Strahinja says:

    I personally am not into ballet, but my sister is. I only practice yoga and the exercise you showed here reminds a lot of some poses I do within my Yoga  everyday. I can definitely see the correlation between Yoga and some ballet poses and exercises. Love your website.

    I already showed it to my sister.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Great!! Yes a lot of ballet moves resemble yoga!

  8. Henry says:

    Hi Anne-Caroline! This is so cool. All we need is a wall at home. I didn’t know about all these benefits. I didn’t know that it even facilitates digestion.

    One of the main benefits for me is that it relieves swollen ankles and feet. I’ll start putting it in practice today. Thanks for the tips: small cushion under the lower back and to slowly push away from the wall when finished.

    I have bookmarked this post for further references. I’m grateful I found it!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you are going to try it!!

  9. Benson says:

    Reading this post gives more conviction to the fact that not all ailments require drugs or some medical attention. With the bright blood flow around the human body, there is hardly any chance of having certian body pain. Personally I am not into yoga, but from my research on its important so far, its importance can’t be over emphasized. Little knowledge like this one matters a lot and such information should be passed across.I’ll start trying this leg up wall during my exercise session. Nice being here.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Yes it matters a lot! Thank you!

  10. John says:

    Wow, so many benefits of this one here. Actually, we have been told to do this pose sometimes at our fitness centre in yoga classes.  It’s very nice to see all these here because i didnt know that it really helps the full metabolism of the body. It really is not so hard to do this wall stretch pose. 

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Right it does really help to boost our metabolism! Thank you!

  11. I love stretching, and this is a great extra one I’ll be using in my routine.

    Looks like a lot of fun and hoping it will help with my lower back pain.

    All the best

    -Will

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Right, it will calm your lower back pain. Stretching is such an excellent workout to use in your routine! I wrote an article about it, check it out if interested! Why is stretching so important?

  12. Abby says:

    I’ve heard before that doing this is beneficial/good for you but I never knew why. Thanks for all the great information! Amazing how something so simple can have so many benefits! I also like that it forces you too slow down during your day, take this time to just relax! I don’t think we do that enough in our everyday life.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Right, we don’t relax enough in our everyday life. This passive exercise is great because it’s 2 in one! So many benefits! Thank you!

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