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Bottom in the air, the difference is how you get there!

Spine Curl and Shoulder Bridge may look the same at first glance but how the spine moves in each is quite different.

Single leg glute bridge

Spine Curl creates movement in the spine. It focuses on sequential mobilisation of the spine and hips, while strengthening the back, abdominals, buttocks and backs of the legs.

Shoulder Bridge resists movement in the spine. It focuses on spinal stability, strengthening the core, buttocks and backs of the legs.

How do these spinal exercises relate to riding?

Riders need a stable core to maintain balance and control on the horse. A stable spine helps absorb the forces of the horse, preventing excessive movement that can lead to loss of balance or discomfort for both the rider and the horse. Riders also need sufficient spinal mobility and control to give precise aids and allow the horses movement in all gaits.

How do I know which one I need to do? 

Both exercises are useful for riders, so why not layer them up beginning with Spine Curl and moving onto Shoulder Bridge. Try them for a week and see what you notice on your horse.

If you want to experience a personalised exercise programme that links to your riding, check out our Rider Performance and Competition Performance clinics.

As with any exercise, listen to your body, and if you have any existing health concerns or conditions, it's advisable to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before attempting new exercises.

Spine Curl:

Starting Position:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.

  • Extend your arms straight by your sides with palms facing down.

Imaginary Plate of Peas:

  • Imagine a plate of peas on your lower abdomen.

  • As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles by scooping or tilting your pelvis, allowing the imaginary peas to roll into your belly button.

Lift Your Spine:

  • Continue to exhale and use your abdominal muscles along with the back of your legs to peel your spine off the floor.

  • Lift your pelvis and trunk higher, ensuring that your shoulder blades remain in contact with the floor.

Achieve Straight Line:

  • Lift until your ribs, hips, and knees are in a straight line off the mat.

  • Inhale at the top of the movement.

Reverse Movement:

  • As you exhale, reverse the movement by curling your spine back down to the mat.

  • Start by lowering your ribs, then the back of your waist, followed by your pelvis, returning to the comfortable start position.


  • Keep a controlled pace as you move through each phase of the spine curl.Maintain a neutral neck position, avoiding excessive tilting or straining.

  • Focus on articulating each segment of your spine during both the upward and downward movements.

  • Keep your movements controlled and avoid using momentum.

  • Adjust the intensity by focusing on the engagement of your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise.

Shoulder Bridge:

Starting Position:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.

  • Extend your arms straight by your sides with palms facing down.

Engage Core with Imaginary Marshmallow:

  • Inhale and engage your core by imagining you are squishing a marshmallow under your waistband into the floor. This helps activate your core.

Lift Pelvis and Spine:

  • As you exhale, lift your pelvis and spine off the mat in one controlled movement.

  • Keep your shoulder blades in contact with the floor and create a straight line from shoulders through ribs, hips to your knees.

Squeeze Buttocks and Hold:

  • At the top of the bridge, squeeze your buttocks and hold the position for 60 seconds.

  • Focus on maintaining the straight line from shoulders to knees and keeping your core engaged.


  • You can progress the exercise by incorporating variations:

  • Marching Feet: Lift one foot off the ground at a time, alternating between legs.

  • Lifting a Leg (Bent or Straight): Lift one leg off the ground while maintaining the bridge position. You can perform this with a bent knee or straight leg.

  • Lifting/Lowering a Single Leg: Lift one leg and then lower it back down, alternating between legs.

Exhale and Lower:

  • After holding the position or performing the desired progression, exhale and lower your spine and pelvis in one controlled movement.


  • Keep your movements controlled and maintain the connection from ribs to hips.

  • Focus on the engagement of your core and glutes throughout the exercise.

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