Part of being a good rider is having mobile hips. When your hips are tight, it can lead to common issues such as lower back pain, hip pain, bouncing in the saddle, unevenness and so much more. Problems in the hips aren’t just related to tightness. A hip can be tight and weak while at the same time unbalanced. So it’s not just about stretching, it’s also about strengthening and improving pelvic position and therefore your biomechanics.
There are several muscles around your hip area that need to be strengthened and also focused on for mobility to allow your hip to move correctly. Your hip stabilizer muscles control range of motion within your hip socket. They need to be strong to maintain correctly alignment yet relaxed to allow freedom of movement. It’s this elastic strength we require in dressage.
As riders we need our hips to stay neutral. So the strength of your quadriceps, hamstrings and hips contributes to an overall balanced leg. This is why exercises that use all these muscles together are so beneficial to dressage riders. Equally, exercises that are one-sided help improve symmetry because its very common for us to use one leg more so than the other which is always easy to notice when you do rising trot.
Ask yourself, are you rising through both legs evenly? Is the weight in both stirrups even?
So having exercises that break the two sides of the body up will improve balance, symmetry and strength. Combining all the muscles that are in front and behind your legs are great for riders also. Examples include lunges, toe taps and single legs bridges. Have a look at my article here about improving rider symmetry.
Let’s start with a few hip stretches to help improve your hip mobility.
Take a look at this video and try the stretches out today. Become aware of where you are tight and where you need to invest some time into.
Then be sure to download our free Dressage Rider Fitness Guide which gives you many more stretches and exercises to do to improve your flexibility and fitness specific to dressage. Download it here.