Five favourite stretches for improving your riding

Become a more effective (and more comfortable!) rider with these simple hip and leg stretches.

Whether you want to stay riding fit while stuck at home, or you want to improve your riding in general, here are a few stretches that can make you a better rider!

These yoga-inspired exercises are especially good for loosening up your hips and increasing your flexibility.

When you first start trying these, don’t be surprised if you find that some or all of them are difficult. This is completely normal and it’s important that you listen to your body – do not push yourself too far. You don’t want to strain yourself!

The exercises are listed in roughly their order of difficulty.  Stay well within your body’s limits. Over time, you’ll find that they get easier and that you can do more. You’ll soon start to notice the difference in your riding too!

Start by sitting in a basic cross-legged position. You will find that you naturally choose to pass one leg over the other. Make sure you switch and sit both ways equally. 

If you find sitting like this difficult, stick with just this exercise for now. You can make huge improvements in your flexibility simply by finding opportunities to sit cross-legged instead of in a chair!

If you are comfortable sitting cross-legged, you can develop this into more of a stretch by moving your knees forward slightly so they are not resting on your feet and letting them drop to the ground.

From this position you can move into ‘half lotus’. This is where you bring one foot up so that it rests on top of the opposite leg. 

Again, you want to be doing all these stretches both ways. You will likely find one is more difficult than the other. This is completely normal!

Just like horses, we are not completely symmetrical and we have a stronger and weaker side, which often correspond to an inflexible and flexible side.

Once you’ve mastered the ‘half lotus’, it’s time to try ‘full lotus’. This is the biggest leap for most people. If this causes you pain in your ankles, stick to the previous exercise until your flexibility has improved enough that you are not having to exert as much force on your ankles to get into full lotus.

You can further develop each of these stretches by taking your upper body forward and down.

An alternative, related stretch involves putting your feet together and letting your knees drop to the ground. You can make the angle more or less extreme to change the feeling you get from this.

Again, you can develop this stretch further by taking your upper body forwards and down over the top of your feet. This is one of the most difficult stretches. Make sure you do not push yourself further than you are comfortable going!

Never push yourself beyond where you are comfortable. Start easy and just do a little bit every day. These exercises are a great way to work on yourself between rides or when you want to keep yourself in shape from home!  Develop a routine and little by little you’ll see the difference in your flexibility and range of motion, which will translate to becoming more effective and secure in the saddle as well.

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