Pre-ride Stretches that Increase Flexibility, Range of Motion and Reduce Post-ride Discomfort
Posted on August 17 2015
Stretching for success. Achieving a better lower body position in 4 simple pre-ride stretches.
As a riders, we have always been told that our seat and lower leg position are key to balance, harmony and communication with the horse. But often we can experience tightness and limited flexibility in our hips, back and lower leg which can effect overall performance.
The following are 4 simple stretches to help increase flexibility, range of motion and reduce post-ride discomfort.
1. Forward Lunge: Start in the ‘forward lunging’ position. Your body should initially be touching the ground in 5 places (both hands, one knee, both feet Fig. 1). After achieving balance, you can finish the stretch by placing the palms of your hands on your forward knee and opening up your shoulders as shown in figure 2. Do this stretch slowly, alternating between each side. You should feel this through the front of you legs, gluteus and back.
Fig 1. Fig 2.
2. Hamstring Stretch: This is definitely one that I am working on and it can be a problem spot for many riders! After lying on your back, use a towel (as shown) or band around the foot. Keep your knee locked as you gently raise the foot off the mat. After you have reached your ‘max’ point, hold it there for a few seconds then back off, repeat and alternate legs. You will be amazed at how much more you can stretch in just 1 minute on each leg!
3. Hip Flexor & Lower Back: This is a super stretch when done properly! Starting in a sitting position, cross one let over the other with a bent knee as shown. Take your hand closest to the bent knee and rest it on the knee. Take the other hand and rest it behind you. This will be your ‘weight-bearing arm.’ Open your shoulder and gently rotate your back towards the weight barring arm. Maintain this stretch for 15-20 seconds then alternate to the other side.
4. Hip Flexer: This second stretch for the hip flexors is great right before you get on to ride. While standing with your feet and hips straight ahead, widen your stance (usually with your feet a little wider than your shoulders). With hands on your hips/upper leg, bend to the left, keeping your right knee locked, while bending the left knee. You should be feeling the stretch through the left side where your leg meets your hip.
- Never stretch “Cold.” Jump on your bike or take a short run before you stretch and ride to get the maximum benefits.
- Push yourself to do a bit more each time, but always stretch safe. If you ever feel pops, pain, tingling, or numbness, stop and consult a professional.
- Take your time. Set aside time each day for yourself to maintain your body in order to be the rider your horse deserves!
by Suzannah Simon of EqueSimon Dressage