Jamilla Deville
Aerial, pole, cabaret, burlesque performer
Internationally awarded pole instructor

Mini Tutorial: Couch Stretch (and beyond!)

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen my mix of Crossfit, cross training, and pole training videos. Today’s post was a mini tutorial, taking the Couch Stretch (a mobility exercise for opening the hips) and extending it just a little further. The basic Couch Stretch is a great way to reverse the bad habits formed by sitting for long periods; this version is particularly for more advanced athletes and dancers (as it moves towards splits and backbending). As I explain in the commentary below, don’t try this if you are currently injured, make sure pad your back knee, and preferably have an experienced instructor to guide you through safely.


Variation: Stand in front of a chair or sofa and place one knee against the back of it.

Important: Do not hyper-extend your lower back. Instead, ensure you press your hips forward and pull in your lower rib cage.

Here’s a breakdown of the splits stretch sequence I’ve been posting lately (with Instagram’s 15 second limit, I only had enough time to show you a fast forward through one side; but please, take your time). Warm up before you try this, and breathe slowly and evenly as you move slowly throughout. Do not do this if you are injured (particularly back and hips) and preferably try this for the first time with an experienced instructor standing by. Feel free to use a yoga mat and/ or other padding as this can be rough on the back knee! If you feel any pain, come out of the pose.

* With your back knee on padding & against the wall, take your front foot beyond your front knee and move into a lunge (I like to rock around a little in each of these positions rather than being too static).

* Pull your hips back evenly into a hamstring stretch. Again, feel free to rock around gently to feel out this position.

* Lunge forwards again, repositioning your front foot a little further out; work towards letting your hips drop towards the floor while not sinking into your lower back. * Lift your chest & think of elongating your spine. Drop your shoulders & your head back. At this point, if your hips are low enough, you might be able to place your fingers or hands to the floor.

* Coming out, again think of keeping your hips low & spine long, with your head coming up once your body is upright again.

* Using your hands (& the squareness of your hips) for balance, slide your front leg out. The aim is to keep your hips square & your back foot in place on the wall.

Different bodies will make different “pictures”, so observe what yours does and why. Enjoy! (With thanks to Crossfit Max Effort for the awesome training space!)

A video posted by JAMILLA DEVILLE (@jamilla) on

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