This week I have been looking at how riders can better activate their core whilst riding. As I regularly come across riders who have great core strength on the ground but struggle to activate this on the horse.
The thing is when on a horse the position many riders often put themselves in actually stretches the abdominals and therefore makes it more difficult for them to work. When we are asked to sit up tall we simply stretch up-often sticking our chests out (your headlights as I call them) and have then created admittedly a taller frame at the front but our abdominals are now in an elongated position and we will be shorter at the back.
In order for our core to work effectively we actually need to be equal in length at the back and at the front.
In order to create this and then be able to use our core effectively we need to be able to stabilise from our bottom rib to our hips and then extend up from our upper ribs to keep the torso straight rather than hunched.
As this is all quite complicated when you first begin to work with it so I am just going to ask you to work on activating the core and imaging you are trying to get your bottom rib closer to your hips for this week.
This can be done by modifying the basic crunch exercise. I very rarely do abdominal crunches with clients as they actually have very little benefit to the abdominals (they actually work the hip flexors) and more potential to cause back pain.
However when done correctly they are a great exercise to teach riders this bottom rib to hip concept.
So I want you to lie on the floor, knees bent feet hip width apart. Your hands go behind your head-purely for support they do not pull on your head at all! Your elbows should also stay out to the sides throughout. You are going to recruit your abdominals and as you breathe out pull them back towards your spine. Do a few breaths like this first to get the hang of it, breathe in let your belly rise, breathe out, recruit and draw in towards your spine. You are trying to prevent your belly from popping up as you lift up. Now breathe in to prepare as your breathe out recruit the abdominals and send your bottom rib towards your hips, your shoulders lifting as you do so. Keep your eyes focused to the top corner of the room. Your belly should not pop up as you lift.
If you feel this in your neck you are not recruiting your abdominals correctly and may need to focus on just the breathing pattern for a while until you master it.
These are really tough to get right so don't be disheartened if you find them difficult.
Work up to doing 3 sets of ten reps.
Next week I will show you part 2 where we learn to then lift from the ribs without switching the core muscles off so get practising these before then!
Sent from my iPad