5 Stretches to Increase Mobility in the Saddle
Watching one of your friends attempt to walk the day after they sit on a horse for the first time is admittedly hilarious. However, their inability to sit should serve as a gentle reminder that horseback riding is a physically taxing sport, and without proper stretching, riders can begin to lose flexibility. But stiffness is a choice– incorporate these five exercises into your day to boost mobility in and out of the saddle.
1.Hip CARS: Horseback riders are the queens of tight hips, but these controlled articular rotations can help to loosen those up with some dynamic stretching. Sit on the floor with your knees up and rotate your upper body left and right so that each knee lays flat on its side. Check out the pictures below for clarification.
2. Cat-Cows: Get down on all fours and arch and round your back slowly. Take these very slowly and do not force a torque in your lower back. Inhale as you arch and exhale as you round your back and shoulders.
3. Elevated calf stretch: I always find that my calves are incredibly sore the day after cross country– especially when my horse is being particularly strong. Find a flight of stairs with a handrail and allow gravity to do the work. Stand on the ball of your foot and allow your heels to drop down– you will feel an incredible stretch through your calves and Achilles tendons.
4. Seal stretch: The Seal stretch is a great ab and chest opener. You can easily incorporate it into a simple yoga flow with downward dog and child’s poses to simultaneously target your lower back and posterior chain.
5. Seated Adductor Stretch: Sit on the floor and extend your legs in the shape of a V. Reach for both of your toes and then try walking your hands as far forward as you can go, bringing your chest closer to the ground. I know after riding a few horses in a day my inner thighs start to feel tight. Incorporate this stretch into your post-ride routine and you will feel significantly more flexible the next day.