We are all getting older. As we age, the condition of our bodies depends on how we look after them. Did we exercise? Did we take care of the balance of our bodies? Did we know how to eliminate the effects of stress? If not, there is a possibility that you could live to be over 80 but suffer years of pain. This could lead to a premature cessation of horse riding.
It is very important for every rider to restore and maintain a range of motions in the joints. If there is no balance in the body, it can lead to a lot of tension in the muscles. The young rider may feel no pain but after years of riding, there will be degeneration of the joints. At my clinics I often ask riders what other sports they practice. Some do nothing, others do cycling, tennis, aerobics, swimming ect. These exercises help to reinforce the muscle and keep the body in good condition. But it is not enough.
As a physiotherapist, I know the importance of caring for body balance, whether we are riders or not. We must know which muscles are too short and which are too weak. During my training sessions I teach how to assess this and determine what exercises to do. For example in one of the topics of my lectures I explain the theory of the iliopsoas muscle, one of the most important muscles in the body of a rider. It connects the bones of the vertebrae the lumbar area to the upper leg (a detailed explanation will be given during the clinics). This muscle is responsible for bending the hip. This movement is used throughout the whole day. We sit at our work, at school, in the car and finally on a horse. If we don’t know how to stretch this muscle it becomes shorter. I have found that after studying the records of over 500 riders, that most of them have hypersensitivity in this muscle. Problems when straightening are the main after effects. This is an example of a topic from my clinic during which I cover the main muscle groups in the riders body. This workshop is also very important for trainers. They can see the muscle tensions in the riders body but they seldom know what kind of exercises to recommend to be done at home by the rider after the clinics. Many trainers buy a massage table for their stables as a result of my information about body balance, especially in the pelvic area which is very important in the symmetrical use of the aids.
Another interesting topic is information about psychogenic tensions in the body. These tensions are caused by stress, which inevitably affects all of us. Even if one tries maintain a body balance by doing exercises one can still feel the same stiffness on the horse. Psychogenic tensions go beyond consciousness. I help riders to find and eliminate it from their body. This increases awareness, giving one better seat, better results from training and better connections with the horse, leading to a longer pain free life.