POTW: Supine Leg Cross

Intro: The POTW is Supine Leg Cross, which is a really great restorative pose for your IT band, aka the illiotibial band, which runs from your hip along the outside of your leg. This muscle is very often neglected as far as stretching goes, and can be a great source of discomfort or pain for runners or cyclists when it is left unattended to. For this pose, you will need a strap, towel, or t-shirt (or very flexible hamstrings).

From a supine position (on your back) raise one of your legs to a 90 degree bend so that it is perpendicular to the ground. Grip the ends of the strap/towel/t-shirt with your hands, and wrap it over the sole of your raised foot. Lock out the leg, and relax your leg so that no muscles are engaged. Transfer the towel to the opposite hand of the raised leg (if your right leg is raised, the towel goes in your left hand), and slowly drape your leg over the opposite side of your body (right leg goes over left side of your body). Keep the arm, shoulder, and hip of the raised leg on the ground. You can press your hand into the crease of your hip to help. Hold for anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. To get out, do so the same way you came in, and then bend the knee of the raised leg and release the foot from the strap/towel/t-shirt.

Tips: Sometimes you don’t need to bring the leg that far over the body. Some people’s IT bands are so tight that they can only move it a foot or two before the stretch becomes enough. That’s completely fine. As long as you’re feeling the stretch on the side of your leg, you’re getting the benefit of the stretch.

Modification: This pose can also be a great strengthener for muscles in the front of your lower leg, and a great hamstring stretch. Set up the same way you would for the supine leg cross by wrapping a strap/towel/t-shirt around the sole of your raised leg, but instead of draping it over your body, you can flex your toes toward the ground and press your heel toward the sky. This is great for people with shin splints.

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