Recovery for Hips and Hamstrings

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We know the benefits of Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), the subject of my last post, for recovery. Building on this position, there are other stretches for your thighs and hips at the wall, creating a great post-workout sequence. When you do forward folds at the wall, the floor holds your back in a relatively neutral position, which prevents the rounding that can be a way to "cheat" at forward folds, stretching the back rather than the legs.

Moving through stretches at the wall, you'll foster recovery, increase your range of motion, and get a chance to relax into simply being. This makes a great antidote to your workout, which focuses on doing. Here are some ideas for folds at the wall, demonstrated in the video below, as well.

Hamstring Stretches
*Central hamstrings. Lift one heel straight up the wall and focus on creating a pleasant stretch in the center of the back of the leg.
*Outer hamstrings. Cross your foot over the midline of the body to find a stretch in the outer part of the leg.
*Inner hamstrings. Take your leg just off the side of your body to stretch the inner portion of the back of the thigh.

Hip Stretches
*Half Happy Baby. Bend one knee and drop it toward your armpit to release the inner thigh.
*Pigeon Pose at the wall. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. For more, bend the leg that's up the wall.

Symmetrical Stretches
*Straddle. Take your legs into a wide straddle, supporting from underneath if the stretch is too intense.
*Cobbler's Pose. Bend your knees and rest the soles of the feet together, pinky toes at the wall.

Deeper Inversion
*Bridge at the wall. Taking Bridge Pose at the wall lifts you into a half Shoulder Stand while releasing the front of your hips.
*Shoulderstand. From the wall, lift both legs into the space over the hips, or do one at a time.

Twists
*Double knees-down twist. Drop both feet to one side, using the wall to help you twist.
*Crossed-knees twist. For more, cross the top knee over the bottom knee.

Return to Legs up the Wall or choose Corpse Pose (Savasana) to rest. As you experiment with the folds, let the floor hold your entire back long so that the stretch stays in your hips and thighs and out of your back.

Sage Rountree  is a yoga teacher, endurance sports coach and athlete, and author of books including The Athlete's Guide to Yoga and The Athlete's Guide to Recovery. She teaches workshops on yoga for athletes nationwide and online at Yoga Vibes. Find her on Facebook [facebook .com/sagerountree] and Twitter.