Applied Posture Riding - foot pain riding a horse,

  • 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 damage...be 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.

     

     

  • How Your Feet Can Affect Your Riding As You Age

    images 11Your foot is not a major body part that influences your riding unless it gives you pain from the way you have walked on it for years or had an injury. Walking is repetitive and with age, the number of times you have walked on your foot is greater. The mature rider is more likely to have foot pain.

    If your walking pattern is correct and you have good alignment then the repetitive nature of your walking will only wear out with time. If the alignment of your weight-bearing pattern is "out" then your walking will affect your foot and indirectly your riding. The muscle imbalance that is created over time is the problem. This tends to affect older riders because we have walked many more miles with age. Older riders have different problems to younger riders and need a different approach to training their body.

    A poor walking pattern can result in 

    • Lower Back pain
    • Hip pain (Bursitis)
    • Knee pain, ligament stress and cartilage tears Muscle imbalances
    • Foot pain, Plantar Fascitis, Achilles Tendonitis
    • Headaches (certainly needs a complete assessment)

    Rider Biomechanics 1websizeSo How Do You Know If Your Feet Are Affecting Your Riding?

    When you ride do you have trouble keeping your heels down?

    • Do you complain of back pain?
    • Do you have trouble keeping your toes facing to the front?
    • Do your hips ache?
    • Do you have bursitis, tendonitis, pain?
    • Do you complain about being stiff all the time?
    • Do you have poor balance in the saddle?

    Many other problems riders have can be traced back to poor foot weight-bearing posture. As a Physiotherapist and Rider Coach, I often see what others miss.

    All of these symptoms will affect your symmetry in the saddle:

    • You may well lean into one stirrup.
    • You may find it difficult to keep your heels down.
    • You may have very stiff ankles and have trouble keeping your lower leg still and stable.
    • You might find it hard to keep your balance at the rising trot.
    • You may not be able to sit upright at the canter.

    So What Is The Connection Between Riding and Your Feet?

    Well, it is quite simple we all walk on our feet one step at a time. This is a repetitive pattern and if your weight-bearing moment has little support from one of the major posture muscles in your feet then your foot will collapse as you weight bear.  This point of collapse will change the weight-bearing alignment and also muscle control at every joint from your ankle up. We are resilient until we are not!

    Many micros make a macro and at some point, you will get pain, swelling, and inflammation in your foot, your knee, and or your hip.

    This Will Affect Your Riding! 

    How To Fix, Manage Foot Pain!20170314 095054 websize

    • treat the pain
    • stretch the foot, and all other affected muscles
    • wake up the foot arch muscle
    • independently isolate the foot movement
    • train correct biomechanics of the lower limb
    • understand why and what you are doing

    Long term management.

    • I prescribe a compression sock for pain in the foot.
    • taping or orthotics
    • good footwear
    • gel heel support

     If you suffer foot pain and would like to learn how to treat and manage your problem then think about following my Applied Posture Riding Membership program. My program is more than just a few exercises I have a whole section on lower leg biomechanics just for this problem.

    Contact me for details, soon to be open for registrations.

     compressionsocks2

     Compression socks are available in my shop.

  • When the Rider is Balanced the Horse is Balanced

    Understanding Balance And Riding.

    Two Wells Gymkhana 2012 041 Balanced horse and rider in training to higher levels of competition. Horse riding is one of the few sports males and females compete at an equal level. Riders come in all shapes and sizes and proportions as do horses. The universal commonality for both horse and rider is that we all use the same muscles and movement patterns to achieve the same outcome. The tall long-legged rider will use their core the same way a short, thick stumpy built rider will. The elegant warmblood will use the same muscles as the thoroughbred to achieve movements.internet hpto 

    However, the difference evolving is that we select and purpose-bred the racehorse, the dressage horse the eventer, etc. The rider is not purpose-bred, he or she only comes with the passion and therefore must learn the skills of the discipline they want to compete in. Learning the skill of balance is an absolute must for every rider and is the primary skill to achieve before any other. The balanced rider will progress and do well on any horse the unbalanced rider will regress and will ruin every horse eventually.

    Confidence will also decline with poor balance and result in fear and fear ruins riding skills.

    Every Rider Can learn To Balance  

     The key to balance is where the center of gravity falls. Without a horse, the center of gravity line runs through the ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle when standing. The following diagrams come from "The Principles of Riding" German National Equestrian Federation reprinted 2013 Kulpara Show jumping 015 websize This line is continuously changing when we move when we bend, when we carry, push, or pull something. The control of the centerline is the key to balance and this is the absolute aim of the horse rider.

    The riders' center of balance (line) must always be in sync with the horses' center of balance. This central position is always changing because the horse is always moving and the rider is always responding or asking for a movement.

    A balanced rider is able to maintain this center of balance through all paces. I call this the "independent riding posture". The riding posture is the position the rider establishes in the saddle, at all paces. An independent riding posture gives the rider a stable base allowing them to use their legs, seat, and hands without losing the stable base (balance).

    This is the skill every rider must aim for and train for. The term "independent deep seat" should be an "independent balanced posture or position".

    This term transfers the concept of training, from just their seat to training their whole body, to be balanced and independent of each part. For example, the rider should be able to use the lower leg without the hip collapsing or apply a half halt without the shoulder tilting forward.   At the walk, the rider's weight is in their seat and the stirrups, there is no transfer of weight and the center of balance is easy to establish and maintain.

    The eyes should be looking up, this will keep the head up and the shoulders square. The shoulders should be in line with the hips and the heels. Weight should be equal through both seat bones and the lower back should have a slight lordosis (curve inwards).

    As the horse walks the rider's hips will move in sync with the horse's hind legs and their shoulders should move in sync with the front legs or horses' shoulders. The 4 beat motion creates a rotational movement through the lower back of the rider allowing the hips and shoulders to move in balance with the horse. The rider's hands should move with the nod of the horses' head and not block the horse from balancing himself.

    At the rising trot, the rider's weight is transferred from the seat to the stirrups in sync with the two-beat movement of the horse. The center of gravity is changing more rapidly. The lower leg must control the balance in the rising trot. If it doesn't the lower leg will swing away and then back again as the rider sits.

    The 4 beat motion creates a rotational movement through the lower back of the rider allowing the hips and shoulders to move in balance with the horse. The rider's hands should move with the nod of the horses' head and not block the horse from balancing himself. At the rising trot, the rider's weight is transferred from the seat to the stirrups in sync with the two-beat movement of the horse.

    The center of gravity is changing more rapidly. The lower leg must control the balance in the rising trot. If it doesn't the lower leg will swing away and then back again as the rider sits.DSC 0155

    At the sitting trot, the rider's weight is mostly in the saddle with the rest in the stirrups. This is the most difficult pace to maintain balance but can be trained with the right exercises. The two beat action creates jarring through the rider's body and this causes too much movement through the lower leg and hence loss of balance.

    The rider tends to react by grabbing with their hands or clinging through the knees or tilting forward and throwing all balance out of position.

    The canter is a very comfortable pace but again requires the lower leg to keep the center of balance by controlling the amount of lower back, pelvic tilt from forward to back as the horse rounds, and then lengthens back as his quarters move under him. Jumping requires the greatest amount of weight transfer and requires a very strong stable lower leg to keep the center of balance.

    The rider needs much shorter stirrups and more bend through the legs and lowers back, hips to absorb the greater ranges of movement. The lower leg also moves the keep the weight in the center as the horses change his center of balance. The lower leg also protects the rider from falling forward,  off, over the horse's shoulder.

    APR Picture from the book 019So How Do We Train Balance? By understanding some of the normal processes and biomechanics of the body a rider can avoid many hours of useless training. Many riders try and gain balance while having a lesson and never think to train balance out of the saddle. Humans learn to crawl, then walk holding onto a support and eventually walk upright. We train ourselves to balance by having extra points of support (4 points to crawl) and as we improve we take the supports away.

    We evolve from hanging onto to supports to walking on our 2 feet. We then evolve further to running, jumping, ball sports, etc. We can use this developmental process to train a rider to balance. Vision is a very powerful and dominant sense.  Our hands are also used to keep our balance as well as regain our balance to save a fall. We grab onto something if we lose our center of balance.

    This is also the default reaction when riding. A rider will always grab the reins or a monkey strap or a neck strap if unbalanced, (pull on the reins). There are many exercises to train a rider to balance by taking away their vision and their hands.

    DSC 0011websize CopyThe horse uses its neck and forequarters to keep its balance. The horse will extend his neck or lift it high to keep his balance. If the rider uses their hands and the horse uses his neck..this is setting up a pull on the reins and lean on the bit scenario, to maintain balance. The rider will also anchor their weight through their feet.

    The rider is the one who has to change and train the horse to use his quarters for balance (get off the forehand). The rider can only achieve this if the rider is balanced independently. The rider must have the ability to ride maintaining the upright posture and their center of gravity, through all paces. (both parties are continuously moving), and apply aids independent of each other.

    The horse will extend his neck or lift it high to keep his balance. If the rider uses their hands and the horse uses his neck..this is setting up a pull on the reins and lean on the bit scenario, to maintain balance. The rider will also anchor their weight through their feet. The rider is the one who has to change and train the horse to use his quarters for balance (get off the forehand).

    The rider can only achieve this if the rider is balanced independently. The rider must have the ability to ride maintaining the upright posture and their center of gravity, through all paces. (both parties are continuously moving), and apply aids independent of each other.

    What Are The Best Exercises For Balance?

    Training out of the saddle has a huge advantage. The base is stable and safe for a start. I use drill patterns or movement patterns. The core plays a major role in maintaining balance and must be strong for good balance. Here are just a few to start with, for more look at my  Applied Posture Riding Membership Program.

    Age reduces the ability to balance well, joint pain, stiffness, lack of flexibility through the spine, and hips reduce the ability to move well. If a person cannot move well then they are unlikely to be able to recover balance. Neurological problems can impair the nervous system reducing the balance. Past injuries can also be a problem. Weakness through the core is a major factor for poor balance. So prior to taking on an exercise program a rider should have a full riding posture assessment.

    In the saddle, with stirrups, I always train the lower leg first.  4 I use specific movement patterns in the saddle and out of the saddle to train lower leg posture and I use the horses' neck as the extra-base of support.  Once a rider is able to control the movement and position of the lower leg and establish a strong stable base for the riding posture, the seat and trunk can be trained. The hands will never be needed for balance if the lower leg and seat are balanced.

     

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