I’m a masters swimmer who took the last six months off to rehab a rotator cuff injury. In the locker room, after my swim, I ran into the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates. I mentioned it was my first time back and that I hoped I wouldn’t be sore tomorrow. “Oh,” she said, “not from swimming! That’s low impact.” I guess she and I have different ideas about what constitutes swimming.
It reminded me, oh so clearly, about the comments I hear from non-riders. They are quick to point out that the horse does all the work. If you’re just a passenger, how much work can it possibly be? Enough so that after a hunt I have to take a nap!
To the uninitiated riding looks easy. They have no idea how much core strength it takes to be balanced on a horse and, well, simply to stay on. After a long hunt with lots of fences I expect to wake up the next morning feeling stiff and sore. Most likely I feel it more that Freedom (who is much fitter than I am).
Thinking about it, you use a lot of muscles to ride correctly, especially your deep core muscles. They include:
- Psoas and iliopsoas (hip flexors)
- Adductor and Abductors
- Lower back muscles
- Calf muscles
- And a few more I’ve either forgotten or can’t name.
Hmmm, it’s starting to look like riding might well be reasonably good exercise after all! The fact is that riding uses muscles that many of us didn’t even know we had.
That settled, I have to go and rub some sore no more on my stiff, sore muscles. Too bad my body didn’t get the message that swimming isn’t the type of exercise that makes you sore.