Since my accident I’ve been doing a lot of Physical Therapy. A lot. When I first started going, it took me almost two hours to go through the full spectrum of exercises, given how many things I was rehabbing.
I still go to PT and now it takes a mere 90 minutes :). I suspect I’ll be stretching and strengthening for some time but the experience has given me a lot of respect for how much the right exercises can help you gain strength and flexibility.
Given that we’ve had endless rain following up the premature ice and snow, I’ve been spending more time at the gym than riding (I must find an indoor soon). To add some variation to my routine, I’ve found some stretches that are specific to equestrians but will help anyone who wants to become more limber. I tried to find ones that I can do, given that I still have some limitations (the first time I went to a yoga class post-accident, I wondered if I’d be able to get off the floor again).
Thanks to the numerous videos that are available, each of these stretches is clearly illustrated.
I like the variety in the ones in this video. They address your whole body.
The stretches in this article focuses on hip flexors — an area I know I need to stretch more, although if I tried the “Hindu Squat” I’m pretty sure my knees would never recover. The other stretches look quite reasonable. I can feel my hips releasing just looking at the videos. If only it were that easy.
And then there are the après ride stretches from Man Flow Yoga. Some of these are a repeat of others mentioned, but there are some new ones, too.
At least if I have to be at the gym instead of the barn, I can do something that will help me when I’m back in the saddle.
Do you have any favorite stretches/exercises to share?
4 thoughts on “Equestrian Stretches”
Exercises are so crucial to maintaining a strong, flexible body to ride having a chronic injury.
That’s my inspiration to p.t.: helps me ride!
I wish I could say I had the self discipline to do these exercises every day. I do not. I can’t do yoga, mostly because I have cats…..;-) who think Mom on the floor means let’s help.
I’ve lately begun doing planks. I must say, though, that I began a high intensity weight lifting program about a year ago. Sad for all of you, it’s a program called Abstract that is only in two spots in Washington State (where I live) and a few in England. What it is is: a fifteen minute workout. Yeah, 15 minutes? Yes. 15 minutes. I do it once a week. You have a ”personal trainer’ who runs you through several weight machines that work different parts of your body. It’s not a ‘gym rat’ routine where you’re spending hours pushing iron. It’s like fartlek for people, in a way. You work up..slowly.. in weight and you do six or seven repetitions. That’s it.
Anyway, it has done WONDERS for me. I’ve lost 14 pounds (although the idea was not to lose weight, it was to build muscle) and I’ve done that. I’ve got my muscles back, my core is strong, strong enough so that I can hold a plank for almost a minute. My back has stopped hurting, I can do things I used to do when I was twenty years younger.
So…like one of my physical therapists once said: never, never, never stop moving.
15 minutes? Hell, I could do almost anything for 15 minutes. Right now I’m going back to swimming. I was a masters swimmer for about a decade until I hurt my rotator cuff. The PT is helping that, too so I figure I’d capitalize on that and get back in the pool. When I swam regularly, I rode a lot better. I am intrigued by the workout you describe, though.
It’s a high intensity workout. I don’t mean I’m pushing hundreds of pounds of weight, no, it’s more like 60. One works one’s way up, slowly, carefully. . I’m old, after all. The idea behind it is to exert yourself to the point just below muscle failure for a VERY short time…no more than 7 repetitions…and then rest for a week.! In fact my trainer won’t LET me work out more than twice a week. In addition, one is rotated through a varied type of machine every 6 weeks or so. MEaning, this week you’re using THIS machine to train your biceps for about 6 weeks, then next cycle, week you go into a different type of machine that works the same muscle set, but works them in a different manner. Clear as mud? OK, an analogy is this week you’re doing planks and next week you go back to old fashioned sit ups. Same set of muscles being worked but in a different way.
The idea is the same, I guess, when it comes to training race horses. You train them to a point where you ‘make’ them go as fast as they possibly can…and then lower the speed you want from them for a week. Or, like when you were in grade school Phys Ed you had to do ‘wind sprints”? (which I HATED…) it was to build up your capacity for aerobic lung function.
The idea…and let me tell you, it WORKS…is to stress one’s body to the point where it starts converting fat to muscle. While I wasn’t fat, I have lost quite a bit of weight, and my BMI has dropped accordingly. But it’s muscle, now.
But again, I don’t believe it’s available in your neck of the woods. So planks and swimming are good.