Applied Posture Riding - best exercises for horseback riding

  • Common Shoulder Injuries In Horse Riders

    The shoulder is a very painful joint to injury and takes a long time to recover from. Shoulder injuries in horse riders are common and not well managed. The shoulder is one of the most used joints in our body. Many of my patients present with pain and say "I haven't done anything"? The shoulder is a victim of repetitive use and with my clinical experience, I believe it is due to poor posture more so than overuse or age.

    Throwing a ball, driving, typing, lifting boxes, or pushing a lawnmower all use the shoulder under a load. We rely heavily on our shoulders to perform a number of activities. The shoulder has a large range of motion, it not only rotates it moves in a full arc both above the head and to the side of our body. The shoulder with this range is the most mobile joint in the body. Because of this flexibility, however, it is not very stable and is easily injured.

    Anatomy of The Shoulder

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    The most common muscles injured come from the rotator cuff group. This group is made up of four muscles that wrap around the head of the humerus and connect to the scapular and allow us to perform many ranges of motion. This group of muscles is also used for stability in the shoulder joint.  Ligaments and muscles keep the humerus from slipping out of the socket and keep the clavicle attached to the scapula.

    To prevent injury it is important to understand how all of this works. 

    Shoulder Instability And Treatment

    Shoulder instability occurs when the muscles and ligaments have been stressed or injured directly. Sometimes the shoulder feels like it might slip out of place.  This is a dislocation or a subluxation of the shoulder joint. It occurs most often in young people and athletes. The shoulder becomes unstable when muscles and ligaments that hold it together are stretched beyond their normal limits.

    images 60In some people, hypermobility causes the joint to be unstable, this condition may be a normal partimages 62 of growth and development. It is common in knees, elbows, and fingers. Hypermobility is not as common in the shoulder but repetitive shoulder dislocation will result in hypermobility in the shoulder. In horse riders a fall or a severe grab at the reins and in many cases just doing jobs around the stable. It doesn't always happen in the saddle. This puts extreme force on the shoulder. 

     Symptoms of shoulder instability are pain that comes on either suddenly or gradually, a feeling that the shoulder is loose, or a weakness in the arm. Dislocation is common in falls when the hand or arm is outstretched to stop the fall, or when the fall is on a hard surface. Symptoms are severe pain when the injury occurs, a misshapen shoulder, and decreased movement of the shoulder.

     A dislocated shoulder needs immediate medical care and rehabilitation

    Shoulder Repetitive Strain Injuries.

    images 56A strain of the Rotator Cuff is the most common injury in all people and certainly the most evident in horse riders. A partial tear progressing to a complete tear is also common and often misdiagnosed as a strain.  So every time you tug and pull or use a tendon is everyday activities it is being loaded and if not in the best posture it is being micro traumatized. Soreness is often neglected until it becomes very painful.

    I having a saying "Manage NO pain" Don't wait until you have the pain to change your management and the way you do things.   

     Bursitis and tendonitis of the shoulder are the most used terms given to patients. The most common of these is an injury to the Supraspinatus tendon and or bursa that cushions the tendon.  The bursa inflames and swells and then the shoulder becomes extremely painful and useless. The humerus can't move as easily in the socket, making it difficult to move the arm up or away from the body. 

     It is important to treat the injury and then look at the cause. If you injure yourself by doing what you do, then you will keep the injury by doing what you do and it will develop into a chronic injury. It is important to follow a professional program specific to your injury. This program must respect your lifestyle as well, though.

    Shoulder Pain In The Older Horse Rider

    As people age and their physical activity decreases, tendons begin to lose strength this often happens to middle-aged or older adults who already have shoulder problems. This area of the body has a poor supply of blood, making it more difficult for the tendons to repair and maintain themselves. As a person ages, these tendons degenerate.

    leanne lifting The rotator cuff tendons can be injured or torn by trying to lift a very heavy object while the arm is extended, or by trying to catch a heavy falling object.  

    Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. If the tear is not complete, your health care provider may recommend RICE, for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting the shoulder is probably the most important part of treatment, although after the pain has eased, you should begin physical therapy to regain shoulder movement. Your doctor may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain.

    Frozen Shoulder

    frozen shoulderThis extreme stiffness in the shoulder can occur at any age. It affects approximately 2 percent of the population, most often between 40 to 60 years of age. Although the causes are not completely understood, it can affect people with diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, or Parkinson's disease. It can also occur if the shoulder has been kept immobile for a period of time. This can be after surgery of resting the joint due to injury.

    It occurs when a minor shoulder injury heals with scar tissue that affects how the joint moves. This scar tissue reduces flexibility in the shoulder and makes it more prone to injury. In effect, the capsule becomes stiff and inflexible.

    Managing Shoulder Injury In Horse Riders.

    APR movement patternsWell, a horse riders' shoulder is no different from any other athlete or nonathlete. The tissue is damaged and needs time to heal. Ice, a sling, stretches and the specific rehab program is the only way a shoulder will repair. It is important to follow the program properly so stop the injury becoming chronic and developing into a major injury.

    Horse riders need to get help with the daily chores of caring for their horse. They need to accept the time frame and do the exercises. Following a detailed core, program is essential. I follow my own Applied Posture Riding Membership Program.

      I also recommend a posture shoulder brace for support and for training the posture muscles while your tissues heal. This is not the normal advice but I have had enormous success with people wearing this simple brace. A chronic shoulder injury is very hard to deal with as a horse rider. 

    I love seeing riders achieve their dreams and I love seeing riders return to riding after an injury or even worse from being told to give up. This usually comes from a health professional or family member who does not understand, first of all, the passion and secondly the injury and thirdly the sport itself.

    I have been in all three situations, injury, poor advice, and no family support, I have the experience the knowledge and the skills as well as the passion for helping you.

    Look at my Applied Posture Riding Membership Program to learn how to ride with an injury.

  • Training The Horse Rider To Ride, Train and Compete

    Rider Biomechanics is a growing industry.

    There is new research out all the time to prove that training your core and your riding muscles has a significant effect on your riding and on your horse.  It has been proven that unmounted, correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to be a better rider than any Pilates class or repetitive exercises you have been given by a personal trainer. You will have changes immediately and then build your skills. Once your posture has been reset you can apply this in the saddle.

    When you have established your new posture with symmetry, core strength, and function your horse will also become balanced and can enjoy being ridden. The fighting will stop and the fun will begin.

    You cannot fix your posture in the saddle, it has to be trained out of the saddle. By training your core and fixing your muscle imbalances out of the saddle you will correct your own little habitual muscle problems.

    • you will stop confusing your horse and blocking him with your asymmetry's
    • you will be able to sit upright and engage your seat effectively
    • you will be able to apply your lower leg with consistent correct aids
    • you will stop using the reins for balance and allow your horse to move forward
    • jumping will become fun and safe as you stay with your horse over fences 

    None of this will happen unless you identify your own muscle imbalances, your own weak areas, your own areas of stiffness, and your own habits. Yes, we all have habits to be reset. Injury has a huge effect on your riding as does having a baby or just having a break from riding to live your life.

    Riders need a new way of training, but it needs to be correct training. Elite riders already do this, naturally.

    Unmounted correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to use the riding muscles as an elite rider does. By training using Movement Patterns rather than exercises, you will have more efficient use of your time to gain success.   You will have changes immediately and then build your skills.

    The Core is the Basic Training For All Riders.  Dressage is the Basic Training For All Horses.

    • Do you know if you have a weak core?  Yes! Do you know how to test it? No!
    • Do you suffer from lower back pain and been told to quit riding? Yes!
    • Do you know how to train yourself for riding? No!

    Correct Testing of all your muscles and then applying the correct movement patterns is what you need. Many riders are doing floor exercises and attending classes and still not changing their riding! Why? 

    • Exercises are not enough!
    • You need to have a starting point
    • You need to know your own  muscle imbalances
    • You need to know your own areas of weakness and stiffness
    • You need to know just how dominant or one-sided you are with your posture

    You will have habits and resting posture that affects your riding.

    Do you know what they are?

    You will have micro muscle injuries due to working with horses and from your daily living activities, do you know your shoulder will be developing an inflammatory condition as you use it in a repetitive way.

    All of these problems need to be identified, self-tested, and then fixed.

    My name is Annette Wilson I am a Physiotherapist, I am a retired elite rider and Rider Biomechanics and Posture Training is my specialty. My program Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is a complete program to train the rider for riding and for a better way of living. Applied Posture Riding is all about YOU the rider. This is not a program for your horse it is all about the rider.

     Applied Posture Riding is a complete program to self-test and self-fix your riding posture.  

       Apr photo AMWThis Unique program will teach you the fundamentals of the riding posture. Most importantly how to test your muscles prior to starting, how to strengthen, train, and use your core in daily life and in the saddle. This program will teach you how to train balance and coordination. This program will teach you how to stretch and have symmetry and independent isolation of all your riding muscles and aids. The movement patterns are the secret to this program. Designed by an elite rider with musculoskeletal education.

    The rider here (left) has lost her lower leg balance. This has caused her toes to push down, her foot to slide deeper into the stirrup and her body to tilt forward. In this case, we are using a neck strap to stop the horse from being gobbed and started balance exercises out of the saddle as well as in the saddle. A gym program or a Pilates workout will get you fit, but what about riding skills and riding principles?

    Balance is an assumed skill. Do you know your balance is good?

    Balance is lost due to injury, age, stress, loss of power, reflexes, and many other physiological reasons. Many riders do not even know their balance is poor until their horse starts to react to their riding. Balance for riding is a  learned skill, it is tested with a very simple test and then trained to apply various exercises.

    Balance requires strength and synchronization of all your postural muscles. Being able to ride the canter and the sitting trot requires a good balance.

    A strong functional core, as well as a supple, flexible, pelvis, and lower back, are key skills for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has stability through the lower leg and core and then training for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has achieved skills in balance,  suppleness, and stability through the core and the lower leg.

    Training balance, your core, and become supple and flexible are just three of the many objectives you will achieve following my Applied Posture Riding Membership Program.

    These are essential for the injured rider as well as the weak rider.   Your posture and riding skills all start out of the saddle. Every rider has their own issues...even elite riders.  Stiffness, weakness lack of stability, injury, pain, and age-related changes all affect how we ride and all can be fixed. Your horse has to work through the same problems, so why not you.

    Now more questions. 

    1. Does your lower leg swing out when you rise trot?  This is easily fixed with a simple movement pattern.

    2. Do you drop one shoulder when you apply a canter aid? You won't once you know how to apply your core and lower leg in sync with each other.

    3. Have you been injured? The Injured rider has many more problems to address. Returning to riding after injury requires professional advice and a specific training program. You can ride again if you follow sensible advice and exercises.

    4. Have you ever suffered from a back injury or had a baby or had your shoulder ripped apart from a fall or a horse trauma? As a Physiotherapist and Horse Rider consultant, I treat and prescribe rehab exercises and support riders through their return to riding.

    Isn't It Time To Focus On You.....The Rider??

     You can train yourself to be a better rider if you know HOW.  I suggest you spend a small amount of time learning about the horse riding posture, the skills required, and then learn about you and your body. Learn how to test yourself for stiffness, weakness, balance, and independent movement patterns (in your own home) and then learn how to fix your problems...It is really quite easy!

     Progress in learning specific strength training exercises for your core, your back, and your lower leg, and your riding will improve even further. Move onto the advanced training exercises and learn how to apply your training in the saddle...The strength, balance, and symmetry you achieve will be evident in your riding skills. The outcome is your horse will break his habits of stiffness, weakness, and be able to move with suppleness and rhythm. If you are a good rider can ride any horse if you are a poor rider you will ruin every horse!.

    It is all about the riders' skills and ability to apply independently balanced limb and seat aids.

    If you have any questions contact Annette Willson. We all have the same passion. Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is unique and every rider following it has been successful.