Last week we talked about awareness of your lower leg and how the position of your foot can impact how it sits. Did you try out the exercises?
Did focusing on this fix your lower leg woes? Don’t worry if not you may just need more tools to help you unlock that potential.
We will start by looking at some common issues, their cause and of course how to fix them.
I will start with Toes turning out. It's frustrating isn’t it; as you have a lovely ride and someone takes a picture and all seems well until you realise your feet are pointing at quarter to three!
In most cases this is caused by tight abductors. The abductors are the muscles around your outer hip and bum. These are the muscles that turn your hip out -and therefore turn your foot out! When we sit on a horse these muscles which sit on the outside of our hip are put into a shortened position as our inner thighs (adductors) are lengthened to go around the horse. Due to this continual shortening they can become "over shortened" and unable to relax back down which then travels down the leg and rotates the whole thing.
You may find if this is you that you also have trouble getting your knee to stay in contact with the saddle.
In order to correct this we need to take a two pronged plan of action.
Step one. Release the muscle.
Step two. Strengthen the muscle.
We are of course going to start with releasing the muscle.
Release The Muscle:
In order to help the muscle relax and lengthen we need to release any impingement that may be present.
Start with the Anti Spasm exercise I took you through in September.
You can also try releasing the muscles with a ball.
Firstly directly to the Piriformis which is often a main perpetrator. The Piriformis is a muscle that runs from the inside of your Sacrum (bottom of spine/top of pelvis) through to the inside, top of your thigh. Therefore it can be reached either through the Glutes (your bum) or on the side of the hip/outer top of thigh.
So lets try the direct route first:
And then we also need to look at the other abductor muscles on the outer hip and thigh such as TFL (Tensor Fascia Lata), Glute Medius and the Illiotibial Band/ ITB.
This can be done either gently by rolling a ball manually or by using a foam roller.