After last week’s looking at the front of the body, this week let’s take a look at the back.
As mentioned our posterior chain can spend a lot of time being stretched and lengthened throughout the day and unfortunately over time this can make it kind of weak and lazy.
This can cause us to over use the front of our bodies when we ride and pretty much disregard the back altogether! This makes us not only inefficient but also lacking the strength to truly absorb the force of our horse and therefore remain balanced and stable.
The first step to using the posterior chain is bringing our awareness to it. Now I know that you know you have a back etc. but can you activate it’s muscles on their own or move parts individually? It is this level of body control that great riders possess that makes things seem much easier for them-it is easier for them because they have more efficient bodies but that means with a little work it could be easy for the rest of us too!
Firstly, let’s look at some spinal articulation. This involves rolling through the spine as if you were able to separate each vertebrae and being able to isolate either the upper or lower spine for movement.
The purpose of spinal articulation is to bring fluid to the vertebral discs in order to keep them healthy and mobile, as well as further encouraging that mobility by moving the spine through flexion and extension and maintain the individual movement of each vertebra. Remember your spine is not a block of wood it shouldn’t move as one solid plank, think of it more as a chain with connecting links that can all move separately as well as together. It is all of these tiny movements that absorb the force of half a ton animal underneath you, a rigid spine cannot do this.
Now we have got the spine moving let’s look at activating the big muscles of the posterior chain-the glutes and hamstrings. These muscles are fundamental in ensuring good posture and a pain free back and hips as they are a major supporting role here. They help to maintain stability of your spine and pelvis whilst they are busy absorbing all that force. They are also where you create power to help ride your horse forward. In rising trot it is said that the rider should at least match if not exceed the thrust of the horse going forward in order to be with or push forward the movement. That is going to take some serious booty!
We are going to use the Bridge position again for this however the execution is slightly different.