Rider Exercise of the Month – The Couch Stretch

This month’s unmounted exercise improves mobility in your back and hips, helps relieve tightness, and is very effective for opening the hips. Having a mobile back and hips is essential for maintaining an independent seat when you ride, and for allowing your horse to move more freely underneath you. As with most of these exercises, doing them three to four times a week is ideal.

The Couch Stretch

Why you should try it:

  • Improved mobility in back, hips, and your core
  • Loosens the hip flexor muscles
  • Helps open the hips and relieve tightness that could arise through sitting for prolonged periods or poor posture.


The primary hip flexors that are involved in this stretch are the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles. Images via Wikimedia, here and here.

How to do it:

  • Bend a knee and place your lower leg on the back of a couch or chair. Point your toes upward.
  • Place your other foot out in front and line your knee above your ankle.
  • Keep your hips square – no tilting!
  • Hold the position for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then rest. Repeat 3/4 times depending on how easy you find the stretch.
  • Do the opposite side.

Make sure to keep your core and bum engaged during this stretch as it will help to maintain straightness through your back.

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.

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