I feel like I have spoken a lot about the perils of casting your hips into a seated and chair supported position, so I am not going to preach to you again in quite the same way..
Instead, I am going to talk to you about the relationship between the hip and the thigh, why it is important to separate the two for riding and what you can do about your own sticky spots.
Thighs and Hips; A close relationship
It is very rare that any of us are in a position during the day where we move the thigh in a position that isn’t vertical to the ground and either in front of, or behind the hip joint (forwards and backwards). Very rarely do we have to take the thigh wider than the hips (other than when we ride, hello cramp) and when we are not moving, we cast the thigh into a 90 degree angle with the hip (sitting). What this adds up to is hips that don’t use a fraction of their potential actions and thighs that are only useful in limited positions.
Struggling to Keep your legs still?
Moving your legs in a minimal and repetitive way on the ground leaves the inner thigh very weak, tight and stiff. Add to that your hips that are not moving in their full range of movement and they too become weak, tight and stiff.
With the thigh and hip so stuck together, it is very difficult to separate the movements of the legs with that of the pelvis. Having your legs follow your pelvis in rising trot (and sitting trot) can be a struggle for so many riders and if that’s you, the chances are your thighs and hips need some distance in their relationship.
Try these simple exercises to help:
1. The aim of these exercises is to move the thigh in a different plane than your pelvis, so the ideal is to keep the pelvis still. If your hips are too tight to keep the pelvis on the floor, don’t panic. Bring your leg as high as you can whilst feeling a stretch; don’t force anything.
On your front, keeping the pelvis level on the floor, bend one knee and slide it up the floor. You are aiming to get it out to the side about hip height. Hold here and feel the stretch for about a minute each side.
2. Same principles as above but now with your leg straight and toe pointing up towards your head. Slide your foot along the floor and get your leg as high as you can without your pelvis lifting or you shoving one hip into your ribcage. you want to think about keeping the space between your ribs and pelvis even on both sides.
These movements are designed to enable the hips, thighs and pelvis to work seperately from each other, which is crucial to having a still, effective and strong seat in the saddle.
If you have been suffering with tightness in any of these areas, these exercises will help you get the leg position you are after, not to mention keeping the hips healthy for a much longer time.
Try doing these twice a day.