For most of our waking day, our bodies are either on our feet moving around or sitting on our behinds. We drive a car to work, and then, depending on what we do for labor, sit at a desk, or walk and stand around at our job. And then add in the fact that more people than ever are working from home, and it’s not hard to imagine that, collectively, we are probably more sedentary than ever.
Unfortunately, whether you’re sitting all day or doing physical labor, all of this can take a toll on our lower back, legs, feet, and circulation. Although a physical job can be better for us aerobically, at the end of the day our feet and legs are often tired. A sedentary job has its own set of challenges, most often leading to poor posture and a sore lower back.
This is when some targeted stretches are in order to rebalance and alleviate some of the pains we accumulate during our busy days. Although the hard data to prove that stretching can prevent injuries isn’t quite clear-cut, it has been found that routine stretching helps people feel better overall. It’s such a simple way to help improve the quality of your life day in and day out.
An easy and calming move to incorporate into your repertoire is the Lying Wall Squat. Very similar to the Wall Sit, where you work against gravity in a squatting position with your back against the wall, this variation has you with your back lying on the ground and your feet propped up against a box or the wall.
What is the Lying Wall Squat?
The lying wall squat can be highly effective no matter your mobility or ability level. All you need is a solid surface that is perpendicular to the floor and some free space in front of it.
First things first, lay on your back facing the wall. Place both of your feet flat against the wall in a traditional squat stance (or perhaps a little wider if your normal squat stance feels too narrow against the wall.) Once you have your feet placed on the wall, scoot your butt as close as you can to the wall while also keeping your low back pressed into the floor.
If you feel yourself losing your positioning – such as your low back coming up off of the floor or your inability to keep your feet flat against the surface – scoot out of the position until you can get your back pressed into the floor again. Always aim for proper positioning over trying to “nail” the movement.
Once you’ve found the correct distance for your body and flexibility level, hold this position for at least one minute. Take slow and controlled breaths as you allow your body to relax into the position. Always use your breath as a gauge. This means that you should be able to breathe easily and deep within your belly. If you cannot, this could also be a sign that you need to come out of the pose just a little bit.
Lying Wall Squat Benefits
The wall squat is a simple stretch (no equipment required!) and a nice physical break for your lower body, countering the amount of time you have spent standing, sitting, and running about on your feet. All you need is a wall (or a similar solid surface on which to place your feet) and enough free space to lie down on the floor.
By staying in this pose for minutes at a time, your feet, legs, and lower spine are rested, and stagnant fluids in your extremities are brought back into your body through gravity. Sore muscles in these areas are given a rest and should start to immediately feel more relaxed. If you have cranky knees or hips, they will also benefit from this stretch.
This wall squat pose will also help you stretch out your lower back and your groin. You can think about pressing your low back into the floor to feel a lengthening effect in your spine. You can also place your elbows or hands on the inside of your knees and press them out for a deeper stretch through your groin muscle.
Lying Wall Squat Variations and Modifications
If this stretch is inaccessible for you or you feel pain while performing it, don’t worry as there are ways that you can modify this to meet your needs. A couple of options are either a reclined cobbler’s pose or a butterfly pose against the wall. The legs up the wall pose might also be an option if you’re looking for more length in the lower back without much of the hip opening aspect of the stretch.
It’s always important to work at your current ability level and find something that is an effective stretch without causing pain or strains.
How to perform a Wall Squat
Find a comfortable area of the floor that abuts against the wall, or grab a large wooden box.
Lie down on your back and prop the bottom of both feet against the perpendicular surface.
Bring your buttocks towards your feet as close as possible while keeping your lower back flat against the floor. Your body should now be in an inverted squat position.
Focus on your breathing, allow your lower body to relax, and hold this pose for 60 seconds at a time.