The Best Tip I Ever Learnt
A few years ago, an old boxing trainer told me that lying on your back, with your legs up a wall, helps recovery. I never understood why, but I did it. It actually turned out to be the best thing I ever incorporated into my training. Now my training sessions are slightly longer because they always finish with a few minutes of this move, and it’s honestly changed my world. Here’s why legs up the wall pose helps with recovery:
1. Firstly I should explain some pseudo-science behind it. With leg elevation post training, when your body is warm, vasodilation of the blood vessels occurs. Simply put, your blood vessels are more open which aids circulation and the drainage of fluids. The theory behind this is it allows for better clearance of by-products of exercise such as lactic acid. There are some studies behind it which support this inverted position for faster drainage, but then again so does active recovery (i.e. such as walking after a hard run). For the purpose of this article we’ll stick with the leg elevation scenario though.
2. The reason why I like this recovery position is that it also provides a gentle mechanical traction for the lower back and assists with hamstring length. It’s a passive stretch, but also a relaxation exercise where you can simply tune out, focus on yourself and slow your breathing back down to take your body into a parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ state.
3. I always recommend an active recovery then assume this recovery position. Exactly how long you spend in this pose is up to you, but I recommend you start by spending 3-4 minutes at the end of each workout with your legs up the wall. When the hard work is done it provides a few minutes of peace and quiet where you can block out the hectic, technologically driven norm, the stress of work and life, and just focus on you. Over time, build up to 10 minutes daily.
This pose is also great to do before bed if you find it especially hard to wind down and go to sleep, so long as you’re not hovering your phone above your head! Remember your body AND your mind both need time to recover from the stresses of work and your workouts. Doing this move is a great way to tackle both.
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Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapy based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.