The Couch Stretch: A “Weapons Grade Technique” for Improving hip flexibility

By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist

Flexibility is an important part of performance, posture, and joint health. The extensibility of tissues allows your joints to move through a full range of motion, keeping said movements efficient, safe, and seriously powerful. My favorite resource for movement and mobility is Dr. Kelly Starrett, and he calls this “couch stretch” a “weapons grade technique.” Damn, Gina. Doesn’t get any more serious than that. 

Why so serious? By spending 2 minute per leg in this stretch, 1-2 times daily, you can open up 3 major joint complexes. 3 of them! Knee pain, low back pain, and hip pain can all be reduced by the couch stretch. Time is precious, so killing 3 birds with one stone is exactly what we want.  And let’s face it, we’re going to be more likely to do it consistently. In this position, with your hip extended, those ever-tight hip flexors will open quite a bit of movement in the aforementioned areas. 

Here are 3 steps to the full couch stretch position. If you’re so tight that you can’t move past step one, that’s okay. Hang out there each time around until you work up to the full stretch. Key points: make sure your core is on, squeeze the glute of the flexor that you’re stretching, and even though you’re going to want to hold your breath, not a great idea. Elect for some deeper ones.

Step 1

Step 2

In Step 2, notice the only change is that my opposite leg comes forward next to my hands to deepen the stretch.

Step 3

In Step 3, you’re fully upright, your glute is engaged, your core is braced (and you’re breathing).

Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and owner of Elevate Fitness. Jesse is a co-organizer for Priority Fit Camp. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Priority Fit Camp community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.  

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