Applied Posture Riding - core training core for pain control, back pain and the core

  • A Disc Herniation And What Not To Do As A Horse Rider

    Do You Have A Disc Hernia In Your Lower Back?

    Is Back Pain Affecting Your Riding?

    Have You Been Told To Give Up Riding?

    Doctors and medical professionals will always err on the conservative side and the uninformed will always view horse riding as a high-risk sport, especially with a back injury.

    leanne liftingWell, I have written extensively on this topic, I have suffered a  disc prolapse myself and was told to never ride a horse again. I was also given many stretches by my treating therapist that increased my pain and pressure on my spinal nerves.

    Many horse riders suffer from a lower back injury of some description. The disc is the most common structure injured. The advice and rehab programs that are given to many horse riders do not come from a therapist who knows about horse riding. This is devastating for those who are told to give it away.

    Time to heal is very important and understanding the biomechanics of the injury and movement patterns used in riding is essential.

    If you want more information in this area then look at my Applied Posture Riding program

    Stretches You Need To Avoid With A  Disc Hernia Injury.

    You must avoid any stretch or exercise that pushes the lower spine into flexion.

    Lumbar flexion will increase the pressure through the disc and cause it to bulge or herniate further into the spinal structures.

    This increases the risk of a full-blown prolapse.

    Never stretch toward the floor with a disc injury. Sitting increases the pressure through the discs. Stretching your head towards your knees puts enormous pressure on the disc. Stretches that increase the disc pressure are very dangerous, especially in the early stages of recovery.

    All stretches for a disc hernia must be carefully set up and the patient must know what structure they are stretching and at what level do you push it. No pain No gain is only good if you know what the pain is.

     Be safe, learn about your injury, and return to riding with good healing, good strength, and confidence you are recovering well.

     Certain stretches may well be increasing the injury or increasing the nerve aware!  

    Twisting and Sitting is extremely stressful on your disc. Avoid this type of stretching.

    All stretches for a disc hernia must be carefully set up and the patient must know what structure they are stretching and how much pain can be induced. No pain, No gain is only good if you know what the pain is.

    Back bending is a great stretch if done correctly.

    If you want more information, contact me, and if you wish to purchase my Applied Posture Riding Program.



  • Applied Core Stability E-Book

    10 copy 1

       This is a core training program for people who want to learn how to use their core for function and for a living.

    You will learn HOW TO use your core for work, for rest, and for play.

    I call this Functional Core Stability or Life Style Pilates.

    So many people attend Pilates classes and certainly many do strengthen their core.

    However, there seems to be a large group who fail to transfer the strength or use of their core into daily life.

    Pilates exercises are designed to be performed in "Neutral Spine". I think many people become confused and forget to use their core for their daily work and activities.

    I think many people become confused and forget to use their core for their daily work and activities.

     So I have covered many of the problems I encounter in my work as a Physiotherapist.

    The Program in this book covers numerous areas of strength training and in particular all of the following.

    • I have addressed this problem by showing you how to train your core in various non-neutral movement patterns.
    • As a Physiotherapist, I am able to teach you about the Anatomy and mechanics of the deep core muscles as well as the major postural muscles.
    •  The training is set up in chapters and you will work through a step by step process starting with learning about the body and how it works.
    • I have detailed chapter on the relationship between the core and your posture.
    • You will be taught my jargon because the language I use is unique to me and my training.
    • The key to all Pilates training is getting the core muscle to work. I spend a whole chapter on how to engage the deep core muscle. I call this the "Core Crunch" and this is the first movement pattern of many you will learn as you work through the book.
    • I call this the "Core Crunch" and this is the first movement pattern of many you will learn as you work through the book.
    • As a Physiotherapist, I treat people who start an exercise program at the wrong level and consequentially they get injured. I have put together a chapter to show you how to test your major muscles for strength. this will give you an understanding of how strong or weak you are.
    • In the next chapter, I will show you how to train your core using the big ball, that is training in positions that are not the neutral spine.
    •  Your posture and your core must be coordinated so I will teach you how to follow a few routines to strengthen and use good postures.
    •  Stretching is a major component of good body health. In this chapter, I provide you with a number of stretches you need to do to either regain flexibility or maintain range of movement on a regular basis.
    •  The use of your core is the key feature to a strong core. In this section, I show you how to use your core for function. I demonstrate ways you can use the "Core Crunch" to lift, to change postures, and to train your core to become more automatic rather than on-demand.
    •  As a Physiotherapist, I have knowledge of the things that affect your core, such as pain. In this chapter, I teach you about the daily challenges that directly affect your core and how to handle them.
    •  Many of you will want further training to gain more strength in your core. Advanced strength training requires a strong core to start with so once you have followed the chapters you are ready to learn some advanced exercises. Many of these are pure Pilates exercises and they will give greater core strength. 
    • Many people following this program may require a support brace to assist in their core and or postural training or for pain control. 
    • I prescribe a lumbar back brace for those of you with chronic or severe pain. If your pain in minimal and you just need some support then a mini back brace is perfect. I also find a large group of people just need a reminder to engage their core so a "Core Sensory Belt" is ideal.
    So if you need some help with the training of your core then this E-Book is an ideal tool for you to follow.
    for horse riders, I recommend the "Applied Posture Riding The Fundamentals of Riding"  E-Book. This book has a great deal more education and training specific to horse riders and I totally recommend this book to all horse riders.
    So if you want to train your core for strength and for function as well as train your posture and manage pain then this is the book for you.
    I am happy to answer any questions along the way.
    I love this topic.
    Annette Willson
  • Core Exercises For The Horseback Rider

    Rider core strength is essential to develop a better riding position, skills will develop faster you will gain a better response from the horse and more value from your instruction. Correct riding posture requires strength in the core muscles – the deep abdominal and back muscles that support, engage and protect the spine. Instruction is vital for every serious rider, even the best rider’s benefit from knowledgeable ‘eyes on the ground’. 

    MOvement pattern Hands compressedEvery rider’s position needs improvement and or adjustments to be able to get the best from their horse. Often, though, the instruction can seem like an ongoing expense that goes nowhere; lessons are repetitive, and the rider – and instructor - may feel frustrated that the same issues keep arising, with little or no improvement.

    Constant calls of “shoulders back”, “sit still” and “sit up” seem ineffectual. In most cases, the rider can’t maintain these postures and slump back to what they are capable of.  The calls are repeated. Riders become frustrated with themselves and the instructor is limited and unable to progress. Some riders blame their horse and buy a new one.

    A new horse to blame or a new instructor to try. I believe that in all reality, the problem usually lies with the rider. Instruction fails because the rider simply can’t do what is being asked of them. But why? “The rider is often the neglected element of the horse-and-rider team,”   Is one of my quotes, another is  “So many riders have difficulty with their posture in the saddle because they have poor posture out of the saddle”.

    The other point being riders do not truly understand the muscular skills involved to be able to ride well. Riders are told to strengthen their core for riding; every Instructor now knows this is important, but very few know where to direct their pupils. Many horse riders have no idea where to start, or how and why it’s so important. Riders need to look at training themselves as well as training their horse.

    DSC 0137We want and train our horse to be correct, supple, flexible, strong, and obedient. We choose an expert (professional) to instruct us and we pay a lot of money for this. We must do the same as a rider. Choosing an expert (not an amateur) to teach us out of the saddle is just as important. Heading to the gym, attending Pilate’s classes is not enough. These exercises are general and not specific to the horse riding posture. Core exercises must be specific.

    A strong core is the starting point to address all posture problems.

    Weak core muscles result in poor balance and control of the body. Riding skills will never improve, the seat will never be strong and secure and pain and injury are likely to occur. Mothers after childbirth and for those having suffered a back injury, weak core muscles are inevitable. The good news is that whether the weakness is due to childbirth, injury or a simple lack of tone, the strength, and function of these vital postural muscles can be restored.

    The importance of the core muscles

    Just as a horse’s back and belly muscles must be toned in order to give a comfortable ride and engaged paces, so too must the rider’s trunk muscles. The rider’s body is as much a part of the riding equation as the horse; if the rider isn’t fit, toned, and strong in the back and abdominal muscles, their seat will not be strong enough to engage the horse or follow its movement sufficiently and correctly.

    The Dutch, UK and USA riders are emphatic in seeking information to train their own riding posture and skill. The dressage horses they ride have enormous, expansive movement and these riders understand that they need to train themselves to ride this huge movement. They know they need better flexibility and the strongest core to balance and control their riding posture on these brilliant-moving horses.

    An overseas rider at Equitana was heard saying that his horse was ready for one time changes, but he wasn’t...he was learning to control his posture so he could stay with his horse. The alternative is that the horse won’t go to the next level, or will be sold to a better rider. Humans are very one-sided; we develop that way, we work that way, we rest that way and we accept we are right or left-handed. Horse riding is NOT one-sided; we want our horses to be great on both reins, we train it, we practice it, and we expect it. We want the horse to be symmetrical, and the rider must be the same.

    The Core is the absolute key to strength, symmetry, and skillful riding

    How does the rider train the core muscles?

    PFM with diaphram 

    In this image, you can see the structure of the Transverse Abdominal Muscle, the Multifidus Muscle, and the Pelvic Floor Muscles. These are the core muscles.

    Well, it isn’t just a matter of start core exercises...this is where many fail to get it right. It is important to understand the workings of the muscles and HOW to engage them, HOW to Test and How to train for functional use.

    The transverse abdominal muscle is the primary core muscle. The multifidus muscle is primarily the muscle to support the lower back and tilt the pelvis forward. The pelvic tilt is essential for higher class riding. The functional use of these two muscles controls back pain by stabilizing the joints and controlling movement.

    How to Test the Transverse Abdominal Muscle.

    This has been documented a number of times, but it is very important to learn to isolate these individual muscles and test them and train them. This is one of many muscle tests in my Applied Posture Riding program. To feel this core exercise properly, some people find it easier to close their eyes. Most just need to slow it down and feel the movement. When doing it, think of the phrase used by instructors - to feel the movement of the horse. If you can’t feel when your hips are moving, how can you control the movement when in the saddle?

    This test movement is not so much about strength, it is more recruitment of fibers and a practiced movement pattern - the first of many a horse rider can do out of the saddle, to train their riding posture. Movement patterns exercises and unique ball movement patterns will gain better core strength and flexibility specific to the

    DSC 0029Movement patterns exercises and unique ball movement patterns will gain better core strength and flexibility specific to the horse rider. By adding in thera-band – a length of rubber tubing used in physiotherapy –the weakest muscles to train can be isolated. But don’t forget it is also important to test the strength of all the major horse riding muscles as well as the core. The core is the key but a rider must also identify their other areas of weakness and overuse.

    Testing for flexibility and range of movement is another area neglected. A rider will not have strength if they are stiff. A rider will not be able to move with their horse if their back is not flexible.  These are very generic and easy tests to self-apply. If you want more information then look at the Applied Posture Riding Program.

    The next part of training is strengthening the core When teaching core training, I start with simple floor exercises and progress to the ball. The  ‘Swiss’ ball is an excellent tool for the horse rider because it can simulate the horse riding posture (to an extent). The movement patterns for riding can be trained and learned with symmetry and precision before getting back in the saddle. The ball will teach balance and control...if used regularly.  I teach a core crunch with a posture crunch.This is the first movement pattern of many I teach.

     Riders need to be able to apply aids with the hands and legs and keep the seat deep and strong at the same time. This skilled ability is the single most important skill to develop as a rider. So many riders lose their seat or upright position as soon as they use their hands or legs. Or alternatively, they use their hands the balance because their seat is not stable.  The control of the transfer of weight from the seat to the stirrups is a problem many riders have in the rise-trot; there is a simple exercise to train the balance and movement for a stable rise trot.

    The control of the transfer of weight from the seat to the stirrups is a problem many riders have in the rise-trot; there is a simple exercise to train the balance and movement for a stable rise trot.  

    To train the sitting trot is more complicated but can be started the ball and controlling the breathing pattern. I teach riders to breathe correctly as they tighten the core at the same time do a simple exercise on the ball. This is a complicated movement pattern but a good one for sit-trot training. The ability to move the pelvis with the horse and remain still with your trunk and legs in the sitting trot can be trained on the ball. To control the movement and move with the horse is one of the key principles of being able to sit the trot.

    Releasing stiffness

    A stiff rider will block the horse in many ways. “Soften Your Back... Soften your Hands....these are familiar terms to all riders. The answer is to STRETCH STRETCH AND STRETCH - there is no other way! I have not talked about back pain or headaches here. Many riders suffer back pain. The exercises I teach are all good for back pain but I do recommend riders see a physiotherapist know they are doing the right thing for themselves. There are many causes of headaches, but horse riding and bad posture are certainly one cause. Again I advise riders to see a physiotherapist for the right management.

    There are many more exercises that can help riders to tone, strengthen, and stabilize their core to make riding more comfortable, effective, and successful. I would like to encourage all riders to look at their own posture, symmetry, flexibility, and strength, and to absolutely know how to test, train strengthen and USE their core, not only for riding but for daily work and play.

    A well-toned rider is also lighter and easier to carry, reducing the need for equine massage, chiropractic treatments, and veterinary bills. There is little need for whips and ancillary gear to help ‘train’ a ‘stubborn’ horse when a well-toned rider can do the job with far more ease and sympathy.

    To find out more about my Applied Posture Riding Membership Program follow this link.