[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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[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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Does your horse (and your back) hate it when you sit up straight?

Does your horse (and your back) hate it when you 'sit up straight'?What do you think of when you hear the word posture? If you’re like me, and most of the horseback riders who come to my Secrets of Pain-Free Riders workshops, you probably hear your Mom’s voice telling you to “sit up straight!” Or maybe you hear an instructor telling you to put your “ears, shoulders hips and ankles in a straight line”.

‘Sitting up straight’

I don’t know about you, but whenever I tried ‘sitting up straight’, with my chest puffed out, my shoulders back and my chin tucked, I could only make it last for 30 seconds at the most. And  it wasn’t comfortable at all.

Give it a try it right now, wherever you are and notice how you feel

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“Life-Changing Stress Hack”: Entrepreneur Magazine on The Alexander Technique

Image courtesy DigitalArt, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy DigitalArt, freedigitalphotos.net

In a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine, contributor Zach Ferres called the Alexander Technique the stress-reduction tool that has contributed more to his success than exercise, visualizations, laughter and “drinking inordinate amounts of chamomile tea”. As an Alexander Technique instructor in the Portland, OR area AND an entrepreneur myself, I wholeheartedly agree.

“Balance despite high-stress entrepreneurial efforts”

After a few lessons with an instructor Zach was able to put these things into practice on a daily basis:

  • Body relaxation
  • Centering mind
  • Better vocal control
  • Improved public speaking
  • Clear thinking under pressure

Check out the entire article here. To find an instructor in your area, visit amsatonline.org, or in the Portland, OR area contact Emily at 503 505 4155 or here.

Horseback Riders’ Self-Care Quiz

Woman readingCan you remember the last time you got away from it all?

Was it a vacation, a weekend retreat, or maybe it was a special occasion with your spouse, partner or a friend? If you could quantify the benefit, what did you get out of it?

Recharging batteries

I don’t know about you, but when I get away it really recharges my batteries. Something else that recharges your batteries is investing in some essential self-care. For riders, self care is an investment that has benefits for you, your riding AND your connection with your horse.

Self-care essentials

The obvious ones are eating right, exercising and getting adequate sleep. And there are 6 more to consider: stress relief, breathing (yes, lots of us hold our breath most of the time), pain relief, and injury prevention strategies as well as paying attention to your posture and mood.

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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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How not to indulge in panic

window of a red pickup truckI have a confession to make

Even though my life’s work is teaching equestrians solutions to stress and tension with the Alexander Technique, a couple of weeks ago I totally lost my cool and wound up picking up the pieces — literally.

I’m fairly new to the Portland area, so networking with riders, riding instructors and other practitioners is high on my priority list.

One of my new contacts invited me to have an Alexander Technique lesson with her teacher who was visiting from New Mexico. So of course, I jumped at the opportunity to meet my new contact in person, expand my network and have an Alexander lesson myself.

But perhaps even more than that, I wanted them to “like me, really like me” (as Sally Field said in her Oscar speech), and respect me without even knowing me.

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How to Undo Your Constant Stress — Hint: Don’t Get Startled

5 Tips for Undoing the Startle Reflex:As you’re reading this, you might be hunched at the computer and noticing a strain in your neck, back or shoulders.

  • Are your shoulders creeping up toward your ears when your hands are on the keyboard?
  • Do you have a turtle-neck (chin jutting forward, head tilting back) from staring at the screen?

Both of these are signs of the startle reflex, also called the “fight or flight” reflex. This reflex comes into play naturally when we are in danger or afraid.

Our shoulders come up, our head tilts back, and cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline are released. This increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and dilates air passages so we are able to fight or run.

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