It was the end of Day Five on Mount Kilimanjaro, and my hips were mad at me.
On that particular day, we’d warmed up with a relatively flat 4.3 mile hike in the morning, followed by a nasty four miler that had a steep, practically V-shaped decline and incline section, plus a long, slippery descent into our camp for the night in the pouring rain. To be honest, I couldn’t really blame my hips for talking back to me; I was just thankful they weren’t rebelling any more than that.
But I knew I needed to do something to placate them before starting all over again the next day. The problem? It was pouring rain outside, and the square footage of the two-person tent I was sharing with my little sister meant that I had less than a twin bed sized space to myself, with about four feet of vertical space in which to sit upright. I was beginning to understand how people who live in New York feel about apartment size.
With a little bit of improvisation and a lot of wiggling around on top of my sleeping bag, I was able to flow through a few different stretches lying down. I woke up the next morning refreshed (well, as refreshed as you can be when sleeping on the ground) and with quiet, well-behaved hip muscles.
Whether you’re trying to recover in your tent during a multi-day hiking trip or just too lazy to stand up, try these stretches you can do lying down for literally the easiest way to recover ever. Feeling extra slothy? Do these stretches in bed before you turn the lights out for a relaxing nighttime routine.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Bend your right knee in towards your chest, clasping your hands in front of your shins to increase the stretch. Your left leg stays long. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, making a figure four position with your left foot still flat and actively flexing your right ankle. From there, reach your hands and clasp the back of your left thigh, bringing your left foot off the ground and your left knee in closer towards your chest. Keep your shoulders on the floor and your upper body relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lying Side Quad Stretch
Starting from a lying position, roll onto your left side, propping your head up in your left hand. Bend your right knee, grabbing the top of your right foot with your right hand and gently pulling your heel towards your butt. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended towards the ceiling. Bend your knees in towards your chest and grab for your arches with your hands. Your hands will wrap around the outside of your feet, and your knees will be a little wider than your torso. Rock back and forth or side to side to gently massage your lower back while in this hip-opener.
Reclining Goddess Pose
Lie flat on your back with the soles of your feet touching so that your legs make a diamond shape. For extra support, place a block under each of your knees (or, if you’re me on a hiking trip, one huge hiking boot under each knee).
(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)