I often see riders with rounded shoulders, perhaps it’s consequence of our lifestyles spent increasingly hunched over desks , phones and tablets etc. or maybe it is a consequence of the professional rider being continually pulled forward by a strong horse, who knows?
I have previously mentioned the importance of strengthening the upper and mid back muscles along with those between the shoulder blades and strength in this area will certainly help. However sometimes persistent over use or pro longed poor posture can cause muscles to shorten.
In order to aid those back muscles in holding your shoulders open we need to free up the muscles at the front of the chest.
In terms of riding there are a couple of reasons why rounded shoulders may be causing a problem. In many riders with rounded shoulders they also tend to have a forward head tilt. This puts extra weight onto the front of the horse and can contribute to a horse being on the forehand. It of course also encourages the rider to lean forward with the extra weight.
Another reason rounded shoulders may be affecting your riding is your ability to breathe. If your chest is closed you will be unable to take full, deep breaths. The breath is vital for a few reasons in particular we know that horses respond to our breathing rate so short, shallow breathing may communicate to your horse that you are anxious, another reason is the oxygen from the breath is transferred to your muscles around the body to help fuel them to work. The more oxygen you take in the more that can be sent to your muscles.
In order to successfully open up your chest muscles we must first consider whether they may be in a low grade spasm, so the first exercise I want you to do may seem a little strange but I promise you if you have problems in this area it will have a great affect.
After doing the anti-spasm for a couple of weeks move onto stretching the chest muscles. We can do this two ways, one standing up and one lying down. It is important to note that the chest fibres run in a couple of different directions so to stretch effectively you need to stretch the diagonal fibres and the horizontal fibres. This is easily done in the same stretch just by moving your arm position.
Open Shoulders are now yours! I love to hear from you if you have tried these out and how you find them, or if you have a particular topic you would like me to cover.