On the continued theme of lower leg problems this week I am going to look at another common problem that is the lower leg slipping back so the heels are pointing up.
This can be a couple of things.
One I'm going to address briefly is personal to me but I have heard other riders mention this so I think it is important to mention. If you ride a pony or perhaps have particularly long legs (think William Foxx-Pitt) it can feel like you need to lift your heels to give an aid. It's basically a bad habit so if my instructor is reading this -Amanda don't let me get away with this even once on PoppyMay!
What you actually need to do is let the heel stretch down but engage the calf muscle and let the aid come from a strong calf. Then you just need to engage and release the calf to give aids not lift up your legs! It takes practice and probably a good nagging instructor but stick with it. *I’m going to deal with strength work very soon so hang in there and deal with the muscles for relaxing first.
If you aren't in the adult pony club (then you are missing all the fun! The issue is technically still the same as it comes from a tense lower Leg and potentially an unstable pelvis. I have dealt with unstable pelvis previously http://www.equestrianfitness.co.uk/uncategorized/lower-leg-stability-part-2/
Why is your lower leg tense? Is it nerves? Do you grip with your knees too? This can also often come from nerves which need to be addressed perhaps with some belly breathing.
However sometimes it doesn't stem from nerves -I've seen plenty of frustrated riders being told they grip through nerves when they have balls of steel! Gripping with your knees can also be caused by over active adductors (inner thighs). Think about it; we use them quite a bit when riding so it makes sense that overtime they can become really strong but also then struggle to relax-can smash a water melon but never do the splits!
So, in order to help with this problem we need to do two things.
Release the adductors/inner thigh to try and release them and prevent the “over tightening” . I have two great ways of doing this:
one with a foam roller:
the other just by yourself:
If you can relax your inner thigh you are more likely to have a relaxed lower leg but if you need a little more next weeks videos should help you too.
Next week we are going to look at the other common issue of lower leg shooting forward before we move on to some lower leg improving strength work-so stay tuned!