Tired, sore legs after a long day on the trail? Put your legs up the wall.
I distinctly remember a thought occurring to me during a particularly long day out on the trail. My feet hurt, my ankles were swollen and I had some hot spots. I was ready to kick my shoes off, but still had a couple miles to go before I reached the hut. As I walked past a large, old tree I thought, “oh how nice it would be to stop, lay at the base of this tree, stick my legs up its trunk, and relax while watching the branches sway and the clouds pass by overhead.” In the moment, I resisted the urge to stop, thinking it would be even more challenging to complete the remaining miles, but as soon as I got to the hut I found a wall where I could elevate my legs, taking the time to let my legs recover and my body relax a bit.
Legs up the wall is a yoga pose known as Viparita Karani in Sanskrit. It’s a simple restorative pose with immense results. You’ll relieve unwanted stress and tension by elevating your feet up a wall for 5-10 minutes at a time. You can do it after a long day on the trail, after a short workout or as part of your normal day-to-day routine. It’s a great way to unwind and slow down, especially at the end of a long day.
Aids in circulation from the feet back to the core
Removes lactic acid from the leg muscles
Unwinds tired and achy feet
Stretches the low back and hamstrings
Relaxes the neck and shoulders
Gives the nervous system a chance to unwind and settle
Encourages calm in the mind
Sit with the side of your hip close to the wall. Make your way onto your back with feet towards the wall and head away. Walk feet up the wall. Wiggle closer to the wall to reach a 90 degree angle between legs and torso. Your arms can rest on the floor along your sides or you can put your hands on your belly or chest.
If your hamstrings are tight keep a couple inches between you and the wall.
If your feet start to tingle bring the soles of your feet together, knees out wide, for a different variation.
If you want extra cushion for your tailbone and sacrum, put a blanket under your hips.
Legs and feet swollen after a long flight – or a long day working from home? Put your legs up the wall when you’ve settled in for the night to encourage your feet to return to their normal size. If your bed is against an open wall or has a supportive headboard you can do this in bed right before sleep.