The couch stretch is an effective hip opener that relieves tightness and enhances mobility in your back, core, and hips. Your hips can get  tight due to too much sitting, poor posture, or muscular unsteadiness. This often leads  inconvenience, pain, and weakness in your core, back, and hips.

How to do a couch stretch

The couch stretch is safe enough to exemplify every day and is one of the stretches that Joely Franklin, a Level 3 personal trainer and sports therapist, unveils to her clients regularly.

Franklin stresses the advantage of activating your core throughout the stretch so that you’re not completely relaxed. This assists to align your body.

You can also exemplify this stretch utilizing a ball, wall, or any sturdy surface. Utilize a cushion or mat under your knee if you’re placing it on a hard surface.

To exemplify the couch stretch:

1. Bend your left knee and place your shin along the back cushion of a couch (or a chair) with your toes targeted upward.

2. Maintain your left thigh in line with your body.

3. Place your right foot in front, aligning your knee above your ankle.

5. Expand your spine and connect your core and glutes.

6. Maintain your hips square.

7. Grasp for at least 45 seconds.

8. Perform the opposite side.

Perform the couch stretch daily. A few times per week, spend a bit of extra time on this stretch by reiterating each side several times. You can also enjoy  some extra time stretching out whatever side is least easy. .

Variations of the couch stretch

For a fresh take on the couch stretch, perform these variations. Ensure to keep your body perfectly aligned to get the most benefits.

Front leg support

If your hips are tight, maintain your front leg down, with your knee on the floor and your foot pressing into the wall for support.

Low couch stretch

For added ease, hinge at your hips to lean forward, positioning your hands on either side of your front foot. Add in a relaxed twist by lifting one arm to the side and twisting in that direction.

Front foot raised

To enhance the intensity, position a plate or block under your front foot.

Twisting couch stretch

Maintain your hips square as you twist your upper body in the direction of your front leg.

Side bend couch stretch

Lift the arm that’s on the opposite side as your front leg. Gently lean over to the same side as your front leg, feeling a stretch along the side of your torso.

Muscles worked 

The couch stretch opens up your hips, focusing your hip flexors, which are the muscles in the front of your hip.

You utilize these muscles when you raise your thigh toward your chest or bend down into a squat. The hips flexors connect to your quadriceps, which will be lengthened and loosened during the couch stretch.

The couch stretch also focuses your glutes, hamstrings, and knee flexors. When performing the couch stretch, ensure to connect your glutes, particularly the glutes of your back legs. This assists to keep your lower back and hips steady and aligned.


Since it’s a deep stretch, you’ll want to build up to the couch stretch gently if you’re new to exercise or have a lot of tightness.

Work on this stretch gently, step by step

Franklin notes that it’s really essential to do the couch stretch step by step. If you move into it too quickly, it can be painful or inconvenient.

If you have limited flexibility, work on easier low back, hip, and quad stretches to establish openness in your body. This gives you the mobility needed to perform the couch stretch safely.

You may actually feel some sensation or mild discomfort, but you shouldn’t mild pain or experience shaking in your body. You should be able to breathe deeply, conveniently, and steadily throughout the stretch.

Establish a straight line from hip to knee

Franklin uncovers that the couch stretch is not a lunge. She advises that you establish a straight line from your hip to your knee so that you’re not moving forward as you would in a lunge.

“Have someone watch you to make sure you’re doing it appropriately,” she said. “This way you’ll get the full advantages with the appropriate alignment.”

She adds that it’s essential to avoid rotating the thoracic spine, transporting only in the sagittal plane so that you’re not transiting to either side. Appropriately align your hips to centralize forward, and prevent letting your knee collapse into the center or opening out to the side.

Skip this stretch if you have any knee problems. Avoid putting direct tension on your back knee. Utilize your back knee as an anchor to ground and steady your body. Don’t permit your front knee to travel past your ankle.

Be careful not to overarch your back

Avoid your back from overarching, which can lead to compression of your spine. Instead, keep a neutral spine and refrain from slouching or collapsing downward. Keep proper hip alignment by rotating your hips internally. Don’t permit your hips to open to the side.

Key takeaways 

A standard stretch among athletes, the couch stretch is advantageous for most people and can be an helpful addition to your flexibility and mobility routine. It’s also a fantastic choice when you’ve had to do a lot of sitting or activities utilizing your legs.

The intensity of the couch stretch means you may need to work up to it gently. It’s OK to take it back a few steps if the stretch is quiet deep or causes pain.

Have in mind that each body is different, so modify and adjust if this stretch isn’t convenient or efficient for you. There are plenty of other options accessible.

If you have the option, get some feedback or assistance from a qualified fitness professional or skilled friend who ensure you’re getting the most out of this valuable stretch.

Couch Stretch: Small, But Important Ways You’re performing It Incorrectly

Tight hips are one of the primary problems an athlete can have in maximizing power and performance. The couch stretch is  actually a powerful tool every athlete should have in his or her toolbox. Comprehending the how and why behind this movement will enhance  its effectiveness and make you a better athlete.

Optimal Movement

More and more athletes inside and outside of the CrossFit world are utilizing a variety of mobility techniques to get into better placements so they can be great athletes and all around better, higher functioning human beings. This is in part due to the work of Dr. Kelly Starrett, his book Becoming a Supple Leopard, and his website MobilityWOD.

One of the most notorious mobilizations Starrett ever propounded is the couch stretch. For those plagued with the  impacts of sedentary work and lifestyle, this stretch is a

beast. At CrossFit Virginia Beach, we see more crying, sweating, and people tapping out on this one than every other mobilization we exemplify .

It’s also one of the most poorly implemented techniques I see in my sports orthopedic clinic and in the gym, as well. 

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“This is only one, albeit potent, path to begin getting missing ranges of movement that invoke performance.”

Athletes come to me frustrated because they exemplify the couch stretch hoping to relieve some of the anterior chain tension associated with long-term sedentary placements. But often their results are somewhat limited due in part to the application of the technique.

Of course, there are many potential factors at play, but many times athletes are not getting as much from the couch stretch because of how they perform it, not just because of how usually they do it. The devil is in the details, after all.

Couch Stress Exercise

So, by utilizing the following arrangement, we’ll learn to get principals of amazing movement practice to the couch stretch so we, as athletes, can get the most bang for our buck when exemplifying this potent organization.

1. Midline First/Table Top

Bracing the spine first permits us to bias the lower body and emphasize the hip, knee, and ankle hardship without establishing an upstream compensation pattern that puts slack into the system. Because we’re are trying to establish a better femuro-pelvic (read “hip”) relationship, we want to wed the pelvis and spine in conjunction before we load the system, just the same as any other movement we perform. Weird, right?

2. Knee on the Wall, Find Your Anchor

Getting the knee joint as tucked into the corner of the wall or couch as it can be is essential. It  enables us a secure anchor to get and control steady pressure through the system.

Permitting the knee to move away from the wall can establish a bleed of tension by transiting the hip into flexion and potentially permitting a fault at the hip and/or spine. Also, avoiding this fault prevents putting direct pressure on the patella where we can cause unnecessary inconvenience.

3. Assist Leg Comes Up, Check Your Spine Again

Here we bring the other leg into a placement that looks akin to a lunge. This leg should be placed generally hip width apart with the heel under or in front of the knee. Some of us may have such overwhelming anterior chain inconvenience at this point that we needn’t bring our leg up at all. It’s more essential that the side we’re treating maintains placement than it is to replicate some picture we have in our head: “Kelly looks like this on MobilityWOD, so I’m going for it!

So, bring your leg up only if you can maintain the other placements previously explained and you aren’t exemplifying any autonomic nervous system responses. These include but are not limited to:

1. Inability to control breathing

2. Shaking

3. Sweating like a whore in church

4. Inability to maintain both eyes open simultaneously

5.  Involuntary bowel evacuation

6. Projectile vomiting

Seriously, though, if it seems like too much, it is. Place your ego in check and back off a notch. Slow and steady wins in the mobility game.

Couch Stretch Hip Flexor

The operative word here is hip. So many times athletes miss this essential distinction. Hip means femur and pelvis. This is where we most often fault to a locally overextended spinal placement. What does that mean? Local extension in this case means  to segments of the lumbar spine overarching and establishing compression and shear between vertebrae.

Additionally, in order to bias hip extension optimally, the hip actually needs to be transiting toward internal rotation. It may be prudent in this placement to utilize your stretched side arm to assist support you.

Note: This is still an opportunity to practice good placement. You’ll be able to assist yourself much longer with the shoulder in an externally rotated, locked-elbow placement instead of dumped out, forward-shoulder placement. No need to sacrifice your shoulders at the altar of your hip.


Once you’ve developed some mastery of the basic couch stretch, it can actually get spicy. Joining a plate under the front foot and closing your stance are fun ways to begin free-styling and hitting new and unique corners. A word of caution, though – having the basics right first. These variations will do nothing but bring frustration if you haven’t cultivated the basic placements for this technique.

Body Systems and Performance

While powerful and low tech, the couch stretch is not founded to be a catchall. The human body is a system of systems. This is only one, albeit potent, way to start exploring missing ranges of movement that inhibit performance. Ensure to explore tight corners in several ways. Lastly, if you’re just stuck or something seems beyond your comprehension, then go to a qualified health professional and get assistance.

There’s definitely nothing like hours of running and biking to shorten the hip flexors. If you spend hours each day in a chair at a desk, the problem gets even worse. Effects can include the types of knee pain that will drive you nuts, devour performance capability and perhaps even strand you on the sidelines with an injury.

You may actually have seen (or applied yourself) the famous stretch: You’re on a run patiently waiting for a green light at an intersection, and you get yourself up against a post with one hand and utilize the other hand to grasp your ankle behind your back and try and eek out a quad stretch of sorts. Have you observed how that doesn’t really do anything?

The intent is great but the technique doesn’t do any deep or lasting work. Contract  it to Dr. Kelly Starrett’s “Couch Stretch”, so known because it can be a highly essential way to turn five minutes of any TV watching from the sofa into a performance-developing transition in your underlying physiology and mechanics.

The Couch Stretch is one of the 12 Qualities of Performance at the cornerstone of Starrett’s New York Times bestselling book, Ready to Run.

How to Do the Couch Stretch

The Couch Stretch is a weapons-grade technique to uncover up the hip and open up some slack upstream of the knee. It can assist lift some of the common types of knee pain that runners confront, like patella tendonitis (aka “Runner’s Knee”) and also assist solve hip and back pain troubles. Meeting this standard will assist your mission to sustain good posture both in your running and as you go about your day. Try performing the Couch Stretch daily for a week—two minutes each leg, each day—and pay concentration to the change you can create.

More: Cycling Stretches

1. Ensure you back your feet up against a wall, a box, or against the upper part  of your couch. If actually utilizing a hard floor, put down a part for your knee.

2. Slide your left leg so that the knee fits into the corner where the floor meets the wall (or whatever corresponding corner you might be utilizing). Ensure the shin flush with the wall and point the toe.

IMPORTANT: Squeeze your glutes and your left glute in particular. Maintain squeezing throughout the mobilization. This will steady your lower back and appo position your hip joint.

More: 7 Post-Workout Stretches

3.  So draw up the right leg and put it in front of you with a vertical shin.

4. With butt actually squeezed, move  the front of the hip toward the ground. Keep this placement for at least a minute.

5. Now really crank the hip flexor by raising up your torso (glutes still connected) and grasp for another minute.

6. Drive the torso upright, with glutes and abdominals connected.

TIP: If you’re too tight to get into the Couch Stretch placement, scale things back by placing a box out on front of you that you can put your weight on and not care about shifting the leg as in step 4. Perform at this daily for at least 2 minutes each side to actually get the tissue change you need to enhance toward the complete station and passing this quality..

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Perfect mode to stretch your quads

If you haven’t heard of the couch stretch, it’s about to be a complete game-changer for your body. A variation of a hip flexor stretch, it concentrates on stretching the muscles that assist you raise your leg toward your torso or fold forward. In doing so, you get some much-needed relief from being stuck behind a computer the primary of your day.

“Hip flexor stretching—involved with hip extensor strengthening—is a great idea for anyone who sits during the day. While sitting, these muscles are often in a shortened placement for long periods of time, causing chronic tightness,”

. “Since muscles work in reciprocal pairs, when the hip flexors are very tight, the glutes tend to have a little sleepy. This propels a lack of tensional integrity around the hip complex. Some muscles are over-firing and tight, while others are lax and stretched. This soft tissue environment establishes an imbalance in the joints, which can eventually transit to pain and degradation in the sacroiliac joints, lumbar spine, and hip socket.”

Aside from benefiting the hips, the couch stretch also assists out your quads.

Especially the rectus femoris, one of the four quad muscles that also tends to be one of the hip flexor muscles.

“When the rectus femoris is chronically tight, it can establish dysfunction in the other quad muscles as they try to accommodate the overactive rectus femoris,” Dockins says. “The overly-tight rectus femoris can also transit to a mistracking of the knee cap, which can further fuel pain and dysfunction in the whole lower limb from hip to ankle.”

The couch stretch can assist avoid  all these issues from happening, particularly when you’re also involving glute-strengthening exercises into your routine. “Performing one without the other can lead to further imbalance,” Dockins says. And as for the couch stretch especially, you can either do it on your trusty piece of furniture or in varying lunge placements on the floor. The option is yours.

“Performing these stretches three to four times per week for two to three rounds at 15 to 30 seconds each is a great place to begin. The stretch not only encourages a mechanical unleash of the soft tissues, but a neurological response occurs as motor neuron excitability diminishes with the static 15 to 30 second grasp,” Dockins says. “As always, maintain in mind that your body is unique. What works for one person may not be the actual formula that works for you. Tune in to how your body is connecting to your efforts and play with varying combinations of strengthening and How to perform the couch stretch

1. Stand focusing away, with the backs of your legs touching the couch. It will be great without shoes.

2. Position one knee on the couch and slide it back until your foot and shin can relax vertically on the back cushion.

3. Utilize your hands as needed for assistance on your front thigh.

4. Draw your tailbone down and under until you feel the stretch land in your raised-leg hip crease and down the center of your quad (rectus femoris).

5. Connect your lower abdominals as you perform this.

6. Keep a tall lift through your spine and take deep breaths in and out through your nose. Slightly deepen the stretch on the exhalation.

7. Grasp for 15 to 30 seconds. Reiterate both sides for 2 to 3 rounds.

Optional: Squeeze your glutes of the side that is being stretched. This connection will further assist the release of the hip flexors and overall tensional truthfulness. This can be performed during the floor version as well.

How to Exemplify the couch stretch on the floor

1. Come into a kneeling placement with your right foot forward.

2. Position both hands on your right thigh for support.

4. Slide your left knee back a couple of inches and draw your tailbone down and under until you actually feel the stretch in the left hip crease and center quad (rectus femoris).

5. Keep a tall lift through your spine and ensure you take deep breaths in and out

6. Through your nose. Slightly deepen the stretch on the exhalation.

Optional: Raise your arms vertically, then drop your right arm by your side as you laterally bend your trunk to the right and slightly back. Your left hand will be moving up and out of the left hip flexor area for added permission to the stretch.

Hip Flexor / Couch Stretch – We receive this question a lot. Learn how to open your tight hips and the advantages that brings into everyday life.

Despite their advantage to a wide range of athletic and sporting activities, the hip flexors are the most ignored major muscle group in strength training.

It is very rare to find training programs that accept hip flexor exercises. By contrast there is usually a wonderful deal of emphasis on exercises for the leg extensors.

A Empirical Guide to: Hip Flexor / Couch Stretch

There are some clear reasons for this comparative neglect. The principal muscles incorporated in hip flexion are the psoas and the iliacus, collectively known as the iliopsoas. Because they are relatively deep-seated rather than surface muscles they may actually have been overlooked by bodybuilders who have traditionally been the primary innovators in strength training.

Secondly, there are no clear ways to efficiently exercise them with free weights. Finally, these muscles do not have the obvious functional advantage of their extensor counterparts. Still, as antagonists, both hip and knee flexors exemplify an important role in organizing the rate of descent and ascent in leg extension exercises such as the squat. Hip Flexor / Couch Stretch

There is no corresponding issue of underdevelopment with the muscles  in charge for knee joint flexion, the hamstring group. Because they cross two joints they are definitely active in both leg extension and leg flexion. They act to flex the knee joint and also to expand the hip joint.

Therefore they tend to be strengthened by hard leg extension exercises. Also hamstrings can be developed and strengthened through the utilization of the leg curl apparatus.

Strong hip flexors give an advantage in a wide range of sports and athletic activities. In sprinting high knee raise is associated with enhanced stride length and therefore considerable concentration is given to exercising the hip flexors.

However, they are usually not practiced against resistance and consequently there is unlikely to be any appreciable strength enhancement.

Hip flexor strength is directly important to a range of activities in football. Kicking a ball is a difficult united action which involves simultaneous knee extension and hip flexion, so growing a more powerful kick demands exercises accessible to these muscle groups.

Strong hip flexors can also be very helpful and advantageous in the tackle situation in American football and both rugby togetherness and rugby league where a player is trying to take further steps forward with an tackling player clinging to his legs. Hip Flexor / Couch Stretch

In addition those players in American football and rugby who have greatly developed quadriceps and gluteus muscles are often unable to get rapid knee lift and hence tend to shuffle around the field. Having stronger flexors would significantly enhance their mobility.

It is notably asserted that marked strength disparity between hip extensors and hip flexors may be a supporting factor in hamstring injuries in footballers. It is interesting to consider on whether hip extensor/flexor imbalance might also be connected with the relatively high incidence of groin injuries.

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Other sports where enhanced iliopsoas strength would appear to offer advantages include cycling,

 rowing and mountain mounting, especially when scaling rock faces.

The problem in developing hip flexor strength has been the lack of correct exercises. Two that have traditionally been utilized for this muscle group are incline sit-ups and hanging leg raises, but in both cases the resistance is importantly provided by the exerciser’s own body weight.

As a consequence these exercises can make only a very limited support to actually strengthening the flexors. Until now the only weighted resistance equipment allowed for this purpose has been the multi-hip type machine. When utilizing this multi-function apparatus for hip flexion the exerciser propels with the lower thigh against a padded roller which swings in an arc.

One difficulty with this apparatus is that the placement of the hip joint is not established and thus it is hard to maintain appropriate form when utilizing heavy weights or lifting the thigh above the horizontal.

With the release of the MyoQuip HipneeFlex there is now a machine especially designed to develop and strengthen the leg flexors. It exercises both hip and knee flexors simultaneously from complete extension to complete flexion.

Because the biomechanical effectiveness of these joints decreases in transporting from extension to flexion, the mechanism is configured to provide lowering  resistance throughout the exercise movement and thus correct in loading to both sets of flexors.

The absence until now of efficient techniques for developing the hip flexors demands that we do not really know what advantages would flow from their complete development. However, given that in elite sport comparatively minor performance improvements can interpret into contest supremacy, it is an area that gives great potential.

If you are experiencing hip pain, but you’re not sure what type of injury you have suffered, or how bad it is, the below information should give those questions for you.

There are three essential kinds of hip flexor pain:

Pain When Lifting Leg

Hip flexor pain is often connected with pain while raising the leg, but more especially, pain only during this movement is frequently a pulled hip flexor.

Pulled Flexor

If you have a pulled flexor you may know it already, if you recall when it first began hurting, if it was during some sort of blown movement, you probably have one. Simply to test if you do, try standing on the opposite foot, then raising your leg as high as possible(knee to chest), if you feel any pain at any stage, stop instantly.

Once you have established that there is pain exemplifying the knee to chest movement, it is almost sure that you have a pulled hip flexor. Please scroll down to the severity part to learn what this means.

Constant Pain

If you have nagging pain throughout the day, and it hurts when you actually move your leg or stretch your hip flexor, you may have a case of tendonitis.


Hip flexor tendonitis happens usually with athletes as an overuse injury. Whenever a repetitive movement is exemplified, such as running or cycling, there is a lot of force being positioned on the hip flexors. Often this will transit to inflammation of the tendon connecting the hip flexor muscles to the bone and will cause a lot of pain.

Pain When Touching Hip Area

A bruised hip flexor is an umbrella term describing an injury to one or more of the multiple muscles that the hip flexor contains. If your pain began after a blunt trauma to this area, you may actually have a bruised hip flexor.

Bruised Flexor

It can be difficult to uncover the difference between a bruised and a pulled hip flexor, because you will often experience pain when lifting the leg either way. The difference is that in a stationary placement, a bruised muscle will be very sensitive if you touch it. So to diagnose this, stand up and gently apply pressure to the separate parts of the hip flexor; if the pain felt while applying pressure is similar in intensity to the pain felt raising your leg, you probably only have a bruised muscle, this is wonderful news!!

Bruised muscles only demand a few days of relax and you’ll be ready to go, although maybe a bit sore…To speed up healing, put a moderate amount of heat to the area 2-3 times a day with a heat pack or warm towel, this will help blood flow and kick start your healing system.

Severity of Injury

If you’ve identified that you have a pulled hip flexor, now we need to separate it into one of three types of pulls, after you have conditioned  what class of pull you have, you can  start to treat it.

First Degree Strain

If you can transport your leg to your chest without much inconvenience, you most likely have a first degree strain; this is the best result you could have.

A first degree strain defines the fact that you have a minor or partial tear to one or more of the muscles in the area.

Second Degree Strain

If you had a lot of trouble transporting your leg to your chest and had to stop part way through, you might actually have a second degree pull.

A second degree pull is a much more severe partial tear to one of the muscles, it can cause important pain and needs to be taken care of extremely careful simply not to completely tear the damaged area.

Third Degree Strain

If you can hardly move your leg at all why are you reading this article!!! Go see your doctor right away and try not to transport your leg if you can prevent it.

A Third degree strain is a full tear of your muscle and demands a much longer time to heal, please get your doctor’s advice on this before you perform anything else.

Hip Flexor / Couch Stretch

In anatomy, flexion (from the Latin verb flectere, to bend) is a combined movement that lowers  the angle between the bones that converge at the joint. For instance, your elbow joint flexes when you put your hand closer to the shoulder.

Flexion is typically triggered by muscle contraction. A muscle that expands a joint is known as a flexor.

Couch Stretch Benefits

The couch stretch lengthens and uncovers up your hips flexors, which are often tight and shortened due to lots of sitting, cycling, or running. The stretch can assist to prevent injury and permit you to feel better overall, both mentally and physically.

Advantages of this stretch include:

1. It relieves  tightness and enhances hip mobility

2. It enhances overall flexibility

3. It elevates pain in your back, thighs, and knees

4. It propels and strengthens your glutes and core

5. It assists your activeness during all types of physical activity

6. It permits you to have great posture when going about your daily activities

7. It assists with overall ease of movement

To further explain Hips, It’s no secret that having mobile hips is one of the foundations for efficient movement and performance in pretty much any sport or physical activity. 

But if we spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or driving a car around, things inevitably get stiff down there (not like that). 

Enter the couch stretch.

The couch stretch is one of the greatest bang for your buck exercises when it comes to accelerating overall hip organization and pelvic alignment.


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