I think you may have heard me say it before, but how you move your body everyday has a DIRECT IMPACT on how you will be able to sit in the saddle, get your body in the right position to stay synchronised with your horse and to execute the right technique.
It is not enough to only think about your body when you are riding. Most people only ride 1 or 2 horses a day, so actual sport specific conditioning is minimal. The rest of the time bodies are being closed, joints are being compressed, core’s are being switched off, lower backs are in pain and the lungs aren’t getting enough air.
No one then should really be surprised when their hands won’t stay still or their heels won’t stay down, or sitting trot feels like a system for torture.
The way we move through our days is the key to allowing the body to sit in the best position in the saddle.
The aim should be to offset all the compressive postures that are endured during the day, by regular ‘movement moments’. And for any of you thinking that your hour in the morning is just a whole load of movement moments rolled into one, think again! The key is to keep reducing the impact of compression, which means you have to have regular ‘moments’ throughout the day.
A good place to start is by ensuring your working day is filled with breathing intervals. Compressive postures mean that the body’s ability to correctly fill itself with Oxygen and get rid of Carbon Dioxide is severely hampered. This has far reaching effects on all aspects of movement. When the ribcage is congested and compressed, the entire trunk is compromised. The way in which the limbs function is governed by the stability and expansiveness of the trunk from which they come, so correct, decompression breathing is essential to your movement journey.
Standing or seated.
If seated, place feet flat on the floor and sit upright, away from the back of the chair.
Imagine that you want to increase the space between your tail bone and the base of your skull, so pull the base of the back of your skull upwards (ideally you will be in this posture all day). You should feel that this puts your shoulders and upper body in a better posture.
Now, with each hand, place your pinky finger on the top of your pelvis at the front and rest your thumb on your bottom rib. Now breathe in deeply, thinking about filling the back lower lobes of your lungs with air. Your thumb and pinky finger should move apart as your rib cage lifts up. Don’t lift your shoulders up, think about expanding the ribs and focus the movement from the base of the ribcage upwards.
As you breathe out go slowly. Aim to let the air out of each area of the lungs gradually, so that the rib cage is held in expansion for as long as possible. This will challenge diaphragm control muscles, which will probably be used to slumping and not doing enough work so take your time and acknowledge how difficult it is to control your out breath.
If you can complete 3-5 full breaths every hour of your working day today, you are helping your body in immeasurable ways. Maybe set a discreet timer on your computer to remind you that it is breathing time.
How Decompression Breathing helps the body:
It is estimated that the body takes anywhere from 23000 to 25000 breaths each day, so by doing even a portion of these in a better way will enable the body to nourish itself with more oxygen as it removes more carbon dioxide. This will make the body feel and perform better.
*Be mindful that you may feel a bit lightheaded after your first proper decompression breath. That is perfectly fine, just keep going through the breathing and you will expel all the stale CO2 that might be hanging around.
By filling the trunk with expansion in this way, everything is supported, meaning that the limbs can operate with more independence.
Keen to know more about how movement can help your riding? Head on over to our mailing list subscribers form (found on the website home page) and you will be the first to know about our upcoming Equestrian Movement Journey!