3 pillars of positive posture for horseback riders

Holding up 3 fingers

Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

Effortless posture, or what I call “posture that works for you”, isn’t just about the position you place your body in. It starts from the inside out and involves 3 things. Structure—your musculoskeletal system; how you deal with ever-present stress, and strategies for finding and renewing freedom in your body.

Good posture is a continuing journey of awareness.

Structure

Bones, muscles and soft tissues

The similarities between the structure of humans and horses are pretty remarkable, and being aware of them can help rider and horse work better together. Horses and humans both have a poll (or head/neck joint) and a topline (spine). Ideally both are free of tension so the body’s parts can move without hindrance and rider and horse can move as one.

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[Tip of the Month] Stop Clamping Down Your Posture & Start Going Up Right Now

Image of bubbles going up

Illustration courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigitalphotos.net

Are you bothered by pain or posture problems like slumping? If the answer is yes, you could be making the problem worse by unknowingly tightening and clamping down your body. Read on for a tip to nip this pattern in the bud and start going up instead. Going up relieves the tension and makes you effortlessly taller.

What triggers clamping down?

Stress is the cause of so much unnecessary tension in our bodies! How do you know if you’re clamping down without realizing it? Are you dealing with one or more of these types of stress on a regular basis?

  • Time stress “I’ve got to get all the horses fed before I go to work”
  • Emotional stress “My partner’s upset with me because I complained about the socks on the floor”
  • Physical stress “My shoulder is tense”
  • Postural stress “My trainer says I brace my back (drill sergeant) or slump in the saddle”

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The trick to true core strength

Core Strength for Horseback Riders

photo by stockimages freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve all heard that core strength is important for horseback riders. And it is important. But focusing too much on strengthening and not enough on creating ease in the body can actually strengthen an underlying cycle of stiffness and pain.

Stiffness and pain cycle

The stiffness and pain cycle prevents independent movement of riders’ legs, arms, head/neck and torso.

When a rider has low back pain, they’re often advised to strengthen their core muscles in order to support the back.

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[VIDEO] What is the Alexander Technique?

Are you a horseback rider with pain or stiffness before, during or after you ride?

Or maybe you feel great, but want to connect even better with your horse?

Hi, I’m Emily Clark, The Posture Professional, in Portland, Oregon.

I show horseback riders how to reduce or eliminate pain and stiffness so they can connect with their horse every single ride.

My clients learn a proven solution called The Alexander Technique.

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Why free breathing is essential for horseback riders – 2 how-to tips

©2014 Rengith Krishnan, freedigitalphotos.net

Image © Rengith Krishnan, freedigitalphotos.net

Just breathe. You’ve probably heard that a million times. But why is breathing so important for horseback riders? Freeing your breathing (or holding your breath) has a direct impact on your posture, safety, energy, mental alertness and connection with your horse.

Tip 1: How to know if you’re holding your breath

 You may be thinking: “I’m alive, so I must be breathing, and that’s good enough for me”. I hear you. But try this little experiment to see if you could be breathing freer:

Stand and place your hands on your rib cage. Think of your hands “listening” to your ribs. Notice if your ribs are moving.

If your ribs don’t move (or just move a tiny bit) you have a great opportunity to let go of your habit. Just read on to find out how. It couldn’t be easier.

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Oregon Horseback Riders: Stop the Stress/Pain Yo-Yo of Hip Pain and Low Back Pain with the Alexander Technique

3 Tips to Stop the Stress/Pain Yo-Yo

As a horseback rider, you may have had an injury or two in your time. Whether it’s a knee problem, sciatica or low back pain, have you ever noticed that tension in the area makes your pain worse?

Stress/Pain Yo-Yo

yoyoguycropped-Image © Guy Cochrane, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image © Guy Cochrane, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I call this negative feedback loop the stress/pain yo-yo, because pain, tension and stress feed on each other.

  • Pain leads to emotional, and mental stress
  • Emotional and mental stress leads to physical tension
  • Repeated tension leads to pain
  • and vice-versa

For example, my client Amy had hip tightness and pain whenever she got on her horse. She suffered with sciatica and low back pain for years.

It got bad enough that she was considering giving up riding. As you can imagine, that was the last thing Amy wanted to do.

During a series of Alexander Technique lessons, Amy learned to recognize where exactly she was tensing, and to let the tension dissolve.

Whenever she released the tension in her hips, she had a better connection with her saddle and clearer communication with her horse. Her rides went from painful tug-of-war sessions to fluid, connected rides.

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Secrets of Pain-Free Horseback Riders: Posture Without Strain = Effortless Connection

For over 10 years now, I’ve been teaching horseback riders the secret to releasing persistent back, neck, shoulder and hip pain: freeing up tension in their bodies.

Riders usually have one of two priorities: achieve true connection with their horse, or become a better rider; preferably both!

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