Are You Fully Functional?

So we have been focusing the past few weeks on common selected Flexibility and Stability issues.

Whilst this is really useful in ascertaining on how well your body moves and performs it only gives us an insight into the individual areas. In order to fully assess our function we must also look at how our body performs as a unit. I.e. how the shoulders, hip and ankles function when asked to move together perhaps in a single line or in fact in opposite directions. Good full body movement is the key to moving well all day every day as very rarely do we try and move just a single joint at a time.

When riding a horse we certainly don’t move just one joint at a time, in order to give a small leg aid we must engage the hips, knees and ankles and possibly the ribcage and shoulders to give the direction of travel.

There are loads of different tests we could do to assess how well your body works as a unit, many therapist will use what is known as a Functional Movement Screen. This involves performing various movements using the whole body, however it requires some set up and the keen eye of a Therapist to assess how you perform.

We are going to have a little fun with ours. I consider good movement and good riding to involve 3 things-Mobility, Stability and Proprioception (body awareness) usually if someone can move with these things they move and ride fairly well.

We are going to start with what is actually a very basic human movement that we learn as babies then as soon as we stand up we don’t bother with it again……Crawling. I’m not just going to ask you to crawl on your hands and knees we need to up the loading a little to make it more challenging. So you are going to get into a 4 point kneeling position and then lift your knees off the floor. From here move opposite pairs of limbs forward to crawl forward a few steps and then do the same in reverse to Crawl backwards. You want to keep your bottom in line with your hips-no cheating sticking it up in the air. This will assess your ability to move your hips and shoulders simultaneously and also your ability to co-ordinate your movement patterns i.e. the opposite arm and leg bit. The bulk of movement stability comes from your shoulders however the ability to keep your bottom down is in the most part down to the stability of your core/hips. Think about all the times you have given either a hand or leg aid and another hand and/or leg has moved as well-thus confusing the aid that you meant to give?

Now let’s have a look at how you get on standing up. This addresses the same things but with the added load of full body weight and more stability required from your hips. Start standing on one leg; lift the knee to hip height and the arms above your head. As you do this notice what happens to your back and rib cage? We want to aim to keep the rib cage stacked over the pelvis and the spine in neutral. Any deviation from this suggests a restriction somewhere along the chain. Take your hands to “Charlies Angels Gun” position arms straight out in front and then keeping hips level and forward rotate your rib cage to the opposite side of the lifted leg. I.e. if your right leg is lifted turn left. Now let’s see how that proprioception is. Take the leg from lifted in front to lifted behind you, take your arms out in front and then drop your back foot behind you to land in a split squat, your foot should be facing forward as you drop down then take the arm of the back leg and side bend towards the front leg i.e. right leg behind, take right arm over to side bend left. Now push back to one leg to complete!

Have a go at these and let me know how you get on, next week we are going to look at rotational

Movement patterns. This is the sort of movement pattern we would use on turns, circles and lateral work.


If you would like a thorough assessment of your Biomechanics, Flexibility and Stability with a follow up personalised plan to address any issues Cost £50. Hit reply to get yourself booked in.

I also have space in my Studio Classes where we have loads of fun performing rider specific exercises to help you ride better, with more body awareness, control and strength. I have 1 space in each of Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm. Cost £30 per month for 1 class per week. Studio is located at WN8 9QP. Hit reply to join us.

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