Following from part 1, this series of exercises are to challenge your core stability and gluteal (bum) strength. As riders, we know how important it is to remain strong in the core so that we don't hang onto the horses mouth and keep that tall, dressage posture. But desk jobs, babies and life often causes our hips to become too tight and our core to be less active.
Try these simple exercises to see how your core strength is:
1) Plank position - hold for 30 seconds. You should do it with your arms straight and on your tip toes (straight line between feet and shoulders, keep your bum in line) and also on your elbows. Repeat, if you can, with a side plank. This is the same position, but leaning on one elbow and the edge of one foot. Do you shake? Is there pain in your hips or back? Is one side stronger than the other?
2) Glute Bridge - lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet hip width apart. Keep your feet on the floor and push your pelvis up to the ceiling, making a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Does one side of pelvis drop? Does your hamstring or calf cramp? How about if you try it with one leg?
3) Resisted Lunge - Lunge forward with your left leg (both knees bent to 90 degrees) with your arms straight out in front of you, palms together. Try to keep this position whilst someone pushes your hands to the left and then to the right for 5 seconds each. Swap legs and try again. Which way was more difficult? Did you feel your core engage as you were pushed to the side?
Poor core strength causes the lower back (lumbar spine) to move too much. This causes instability and muscle tightness in this area, as the muscles try to protect the lower back by limiting its movement and flexibility. This is felt in the body as pain and stiffness.
My master's thesis explored the prevalence and causes of low back pain in horse riders. 78% of riders suffer with back pain and the main causes are muscle weakness and asymmetry.
Look out for part 2 and for other factors which cause horse riders' pain.
If you have any questions, as usual, please feel free to contact me