Rider Exercise of the Month – The Keyhole Stretch

This month’s unmounted exercise can be helpful for those with Sciatica (something I suffer with myself!) or with tension in their piriformis muscle – both of which can occur in riders due to our position in the saddle, especially for those riding wider horses. As with most of these exercises, doing them three to four times a week is ideal.

The Keyhole Stretch

Why you should try it:

  • Helps stretch the glutes and piriformis muscle
  • Can help improve Sciatica
  • Aids in stretching the lower back
  • Increases range of motion and flexibility of hips
File:Piriformis syndrome.jpg
Image via Wikimedia.

Sciatica and the piriformis muscle: Sciatica can be caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve (this can sometimes be caused by pressure from surrounding muscles such as the piriformis or a herniated disc in your lumbar area).

How to do The Keyhole Stretch:

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs straight.
  • Bend one knee toward your chest and hold in place with your hands behind your knee, on your thigh.
  • Cross the other leg over the bent one, so your ankle is resting across your thigh.
  • To deepen the stretch, pull your legs towards you with your hands remaining behind the knee it is holding.
  • Take a few deep breaths while holding this position then repeat with the other leg.


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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