10 Gentle Stretches to do When You are Stuck in Bed

I was recently bedridden with 24-hour flu. Let’s just say I curled up into a miserable ball for many hours, and my bones were not happy about that. While I was lucky to only be out for one day, even that short time left my body aching. It can be frustrating to suddenly not be able to move around the way you used to as your body recovers from illness. I was craving movement, though I barely had the energy to walk to the bathroom. Gentle stretching helped my body feel better after laying in bed all day. Here are the poses I did for myself – perhaps these stretches will be helpful for you when you have enough energy to move around a bit. I’ve ordered these from the least to the most amount of effort. 

  1. Finger/toe scrunches. Move your hands from “jazz fingers” to fists. Scrunch your toes down, then spread them out.
  2. Ankle/wrist rotations. Move your feet and hands in circles. 
  3. Supine tree pose. On your back, bend your right knee out to the side, with your right foot close to your left leg. Switch legs.
  4. Knee to chest. On your back, pull one knee toward your chest. Gently sway the knee from side to side. Switch legs.
  5. Figure 4. On your back, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Stay here, or pull the left thigh toward your chest. Switch sides. ALTERNATE: Pigeon pose.
  6. Cat/cow. You can do this seated or in a tabletop position. Alternate between arching and rounding your spine.
  7. Lateral bends. Seated or in tabletop. Side bend to the right and left several times.
  8. Quad stretch. On your belly, use your right hand to pull your right foot closer to your glutes. For more intensity, squeeze the right glute to press your hips down. Then switch legs.
  9. Sphinx. On your belly, use your elbows to support yourself into an arch. 
  10. SHPG AKA Supta Hasta Padangusthasana. On your back, bend both knees with your feet on the bed. Use a strap or belt under your right foot to extend your right leg up toward the ceiling. Do your best to keep your hips level and your right leg straight. For more intensity, straighten your left leg. Switch sides. ALTERNATE: Pyramid pose (standing).

These simple movements did wonders for my mind and body once I could unfurl from my cocoon of illness. If you try these stretches, please move slowly and never push yourself into pain. These stretches do not replace regular daily exercise, nor are they appropriate if your doctor has advised against movement. These stretches ARE an excellent option if you are gaining your strength back and don’t have any contraindications to the poses. So if you’re getting back on your feet after being ill, I hope these ten gentle stretches will relieve any discomfort caused by bed rest.

Stay mindful,


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