The Couch Stretch is a strong quad and hip flexor stretch that is familiar to many athletes. Instead of just jumping in, let’s first review and focus on a number of cues to help you take advantage of the full effects of this stretch. When done properly, the couch stretch is highly effective for lengthening the quadriceps and hip flexors, but with the variation below using a bench will provide a more intense stretch as well as an external stretch for the shoulders.
Setup Instructions and Cues
- To set up you will need a flat bench. I prefer this to a wall because you can get a deeper stretch in both the quads and hip flexors as well as leverage yourself for an added shoulder opener.
- Begin the movement by coming down onto your knee while placing the top of your foot flat against the top of the bench. The knee should be in a straight line with the front edge of the bench.
- On the inhale, place your hands on the bench and press down with your front foot.
- On the exhale, press the knee into the ground while pressing your hip forward. Pressing the hip forward will engage the hip flexor stretch and intensify the quadricep stretch.
- On the inhale, place your hands on the bench, knuckles facing forward.
- On the exhale, push your hands into the bench while pulling your shoulders back (into external rotation). Think about pressing your shoulder blades together.
- With each exhale, deepen the quad stretch by pressing your hip and thigh forward.
This stretch should be held for 30-40 seconds. Only go so deep as you feel a solid stretch. Discomfort is expected but pain, sharp or otherwise, is not.
1) If you are unable to aline your leg perpendicular to the bench, you can take it to the wall instead.
2) If you would like to maintain the shoulder stretch, bring the knee out away from the bench where the stretch provided is still beneficial but more manageable.
Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.