Fit to Ride – Let’s Open Your Hips

Julie Luther on the chest press.

Originally published in the February 2020 NCDCTA GMO Newsletter.

In 2019, we spent a lot of time on core exercises.  This year, let’s focus on helping you rehab any injuries or tightness you have that can negatively affect your riding.  I just went on a trail ride with a friend at Moss Foundation.  She is a Grand Prix dressage rider and was telling me how tight her hip flexors and hips are in general.  This can cause not only rider discomfort but also translates to horse stiffness as well.  Below are some simple stretches you can incorporate into your fitness program to open your hips and allow for a better communication with your horse.  Each month we will add to these exercises and will be using a medium foam roller.

Exercises to help open your hips:

Quad Stretch
Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch in your bed or massage tableLie on the edge of your bed at an angle so your entire right leg can hang off the side of the bed.  To stretch, start by bringing your left knee into your chest, then bring the right foot back towards your hamstring until you are at a 90-degree angle with your knee and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.Pulling in the opposite knee locks your hips so you can get a better stretch.
Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch
Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch on a foam rollerSit on the end of a foam roller and fold your right leg under you, keeping your leg close to the roller, then try to lie down on the foam roller.  You may not make it on day one, but your goal is to lie all the way down to allow the muscles to fully stretch, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.Keep your leg inline with the foam roller.
Figure 4 twist
Figure 4 TwistLie on a mat on the floor with both knees bent and feet on the floor, sway your knees to the right, then place the right foot on top of the left knee, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the left sideKeep your shoulders relaxed and on the floor, allow both sides to stretch and let go (you will feel it on both sides)
Double Pigeon
Double Pigeon PoseLie on a mat on the floor with both knees bent. Bring your right foot to your left hip lying your right leg on the floor knee bent. Place your left foot on top of the right knee and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other sideThis is a pretty severe stretch, breathe deep and relax, you will feel a stretch on both sides

Julie Luther is an Exercise Physiologist, corrective exercise specialist, and dynamic flexibility certified personal trainer, as well as an equestrian.  She owns PurEnergy Fitness Center in Greensboro, NC, and has been helping folks reach their fitness goals since 1985. You can reach her at and check out her website at

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