16 Essential Stretches for Female Equestrians

16 Essential Stretches for Female Equestrians

By Shannon Fox

Here at 2KGrey we know that most equestrians, no matter their discipline, struggle with tightness and sore muscles in the same key area: hips and glutes, spine, calves, chest, shoulders, and neck. Whether you’re just beginning your riding career or have been riding for years, these stretches are perfect for female equestrians of all levels.

To get the most out of each stretch, make sure you continue to breathe through the movement. You can hold each stretch for as long as you want and repeat as much as you want, just be sure that you’re stretching your right and left side (where applicable) evenly.

I am not a professional, merely an amateur dressage rider who, after years of dabbling in yoga, pilates, crossfit, and several rounds of physical therapy, has acquired a go-to list of great stretches to alleviate the tightness associated with equestrian sports.

Note: You should consult a doctor to ensure that these stretches are right for you. This guide does not constitute medical advice. If you think that you may be seriously injured, please consult a doctor.

Hips And Glutes

2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

Reclining Figure Four Stretch

This stretch, which goes by many names including “Thread the Needle” is a fabulous stretch. It can help relieve low back pain, including pain in the SI joint area. This stretch can also be performed standing or seating.

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees towards your chest.
  2. Cross your left ankle over your right knee.
  3. Grasp your right thigh or shin and gently pull towards your body.
  4. For added stretch, you can also push gently on your left knee, while pulling your right leg towards you.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.
2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

Pigeon Pose

This stretch can be quite intense. It’s important to go slow while moving in and out of the pose.

  1. Start in push-up position.
  2. Bring your left knee forward towards your chest.
  3. Rotate your left knee 90 degrees to the right and place your left leg on the floor in front of your right leg.
  4. Lower your right knee to the floor.
  5. If this position is comfortable, drop to your forearms and then all the way down to the floor, extending your arms in front of you.
  6. Switch sides and repeat.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Lizard Stretch

This a great pose for hip mobility.

  1. Start in push-up position.
  2. Bring your left foot to the left side of your hands, even with your shoulder.
  3. This position can be modified by dropping to your right knee.
  4. Switch sides and repeat.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Deep Squat

If you’re not used to performing squats, you may find it easier to hold onto something for support.

  1. Start with feet hip width apart.
  2. Keeping your weight in your heels and feet flat, slowly lower yourself into a squat, going as low as you can go. You will want to work at this stretch until you can get your hips below parallel and your butt close to your heels.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Butterfly Stretch

You’ve probably encountered this stretch in elementary school gym class, but it’s a good one to bring back to your repertoire.

  1. Begin in a seated position.
  2. Bend your knees and bring your feet close to the pelvis. Feet should be touching.
  3. Slowly lower knees out and to the ground while holding on to your feet.
  4. If you can get your knees and legs all the way to the ground, deepen the stretch by leaning forward, resting your elbows on your thighs, knees, or the floor in front of you.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Couch Stretch

2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will need a wall or low bench for this exercise. You may use a cushion for your knee if this exercise bothers you. This exercise is also a tough one. It’s okay to modify as needed.

  1. Begin on all fours with heels against the wall, knees slightly apart.
  2. Lift your left leg and place your knee against the wall.
  3. Place the foot of your right leg flat on the floor.
  4. Slowly raise your torso until you’re upright, in a neutral spine position. Make sure your hips are square to the front of the room. Only go as far as you can with this stretch. You may not be able to raise your torso at all when you begin.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

Spine:

2KGrey Stretches for Equestrians

Spine Twist

The supine twist stretches the back and spine.

  1. Lay on your back, legs flat on the floor. Keep shoulders squared to the ceiling.
  2. Gently lift one leg and cross it over your body until you make contact with the floor. You may need to use your hand to gently guide your knee to the floor.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.
2KGrey Stretches for Equestrians

Seated Twist

A seated version of the supine twine, this is a great stretch for the back and spine.

  1. Begin in a seated position with legs out in front of you.
  2. Bend left knee towards your chest and place over your right leg, allowing your shoulders and spine to follow, but keeping your hips square to the front of the room. Place your right arm slightly behind your right hip for balance. You can place your left hand on your knee or left ankle.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.
2KGrey Stretches for Equestrians

Child’s Pose

A pose that is often invoked in yoga or pilates as a resting pose, child’s pose is an easy stretch the feels great on the back.

  1. Assume a kneeling position.
  2. Bring the heels of your feet together and separate your knees as wide as your hips.
  3. Sit back on your heels and then lay your torso down on the floor, stretching your fingers out in front of you.
2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

Achilles Stretch

Calves

If you’re a hunger/jumper rider, you will remember this stretch from when you first learned to ride. You will need stairs, a curb, or a pole.

  1. Start from standing.
  2. Hang your heels over the edge of the stair or curb and gently push down through your heels. If using a tree or upright pole, place your foot against the tree, toe up, heel down. You will feel a stretch through your Achilles.
2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

Down Dog

  1. Begin in a plank position.
  2. Lift your pelvis up and back so that your body makes a v-shape. Press into your heels.
  3. Alternately lift and lower your heels while maintaining this position.

Chest And Shoulders

2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

Doorway Chest Stretch

You will need a doorway that is not too wide for this stretch.

  1. From a standing position, bring both of your arms up like a goalpost, with elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Rest your forearms against the doorway. Take one step forward through the doorway to stretch your chest.
2KGrey Stretches for equestrians

One-Arm Chest Stretch

You will need an empty wall for this stretch or a doorway.

  1. Stand parallel to the wall and raise one arm to 90 degrees.
  2. Press forearm against the edge of the wall.
  3. Slowly turn your body away from the wall, keeping forearm flat against the wall.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Crossbody Shoulder Stretch

Another gym class classic, this exercise is a great way to stretch tight shoulders.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bring one of your arms across your body at chest level. Use your other arm to deepen the stretch.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.

Neck

2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Seated Neck Release

This is a wonderful exercise for releasing tension.

  1. Begin seated on the floor or in a chair. If on the floor, cross your legs. If in a chair, keep your feet flat and hips square.
  2. Put your left arm behind your back.
  3. Using your right hand, gently grasp the left side of your head and slowly bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Do you not twist your neck, simply use your hand to bringing it down laterally.
2KGrey stretches for equestrians

Range of Motion Stretches

Your neck can move in six different directions: up and down, left to right, and laterally, left to right.

  1. Begin seated in a chair. Use your hands to hold onto the chair, encouraging your shoulders to stay down and relaxed. Keep your body square to the front while you perform these exercises.
  2. Gently and slowly move your neck through its entire range of motion. Turn your neck from left to right, lower your chin to your chest and tip your head back as far as it will go. Finally, move your neck laterally left and right by bringing your ear to the corresponding shoulder e.g. left ear to left shoulder and right ear to right shoulder. Be sure to hold each position for a time after each movement.

Thanks to model Cara Sipan! To see more of her work, visit her on Instagram. Also, do not forget 2KGrey’s motto to Ride With Passion!

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