This month’s unmounted exercise is a simple yet effective one, and it’s something I usually mention to all the riders I coach at one point or another! Doing this exercise three to four times a week is ideal for improvement of your lower leg position when riding.
The Stair Stretch
Why you should try it:
- Helps you to maintain a lower heel position when riding by stretching calf muscles
- Increases ankle flexibility
- Improves lower leg balance/strength by stretching a range of muscles in the leg
- Can increase suppleness of the Achilles tendon which aids in shock absorption of horses movement
- Better control of your body movement in rising trot and jumping/two-point position
How to do it:
- Using a step (preferably one with a banister to hold onto!), place the balls of your feet on the edge with your heels hanging off the edge.
- Keeping in an upright position (your back straight) flex your ankles so your heels drop down, below the edge of the step. Feel the stretch in your calves!
- You can start off by holding the position for about 10 seconds, then rest before repeating 5-10 times. Gradually build up until you can hold the stance for around 1 minute at a time.
You can also do this stretch on a mounting block as you’re about to get on your horse to help your lower leg muscles release before riding!
Reminder: You should warm your muscles up before you stretch by doing a few minutes of exercise first to reduce the risk of injury (i.e. walking, jogging on the spot, stair climbing, etc). If you experience any pain, stop the exercise immediately. Speak to your doctor/physiotherapist before undertaking any exercises if you have had a related injury in the past.