How Mobility And Yoga Can Help Your Riding
When you’re in your twenties, it seems you can go a 110 percent at the gym, a charity run, or a boot camp with ease. Your body recovers quickly and you don’t pull up too sore thanks to your body’s childhood mobility.
However, as we age our mobility becomes compromised. Running up a hill takes more effort. Squatting down may feel okay, but holding it there and then getting back up becomes difficult. And let’s not talk about the stiff and sore feeling you may experience the next day as you crawl out of bed if you have gone to hard the day before or getting back in the saddle after a few weeks off.
So what’s the answer to improving your physical performance?
It is to just to train harder or more often? In some cases, yes. Training more may improve your endurance, especially in the beginning. It may make you run faster, lift more, or jump higher. But what happens when you plateau?
The key is in movement. You need to be able to move better, not just to prevent wear and tear, but also to allow us to continue to be able to ride. As we age, we lose our mobility and stability. We may have endured some damage along the way. Things start to break down, our alignment shifts, our posture relaxes and our biomechanics suffers. All this is leading to poor efficiency, ultimately making riding a laboured and somewhat difficult task.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to reverse your lack of mobility and improve your alignment. Regardless of where you’re at in your fitness journey, mobility is something you can always improve.
How improving your mobility will result in improved efficiency
When you exercise regularly without focusing on stretching and improving your mobility your body tightens up. From the ankles and hips to the shoulders, our ligaments and joints soften thanks to the stresses and load placed on these areas of the body. This also happens when we sit for long periods of time.
When you concentrate on improving mobility, you’ll improve your range of movement. More range will produce a greater power and force. Imagine you can run with a greater stride length or hit a tennis ball with a wider swing. Range will help you run faster and hit that ball harder.
Without mobility, your body’s alignment is likely to be out thanks greatly to our sedentary lifestyles and our ability to adapt. Poor alignment and stability means other muscles are taking the entire load.
For example, if your hip flexors are weak, your pelvis is likely to be unstable which limits your ability to activate some of your power muscles like the glutes. As a result, your back muscles will take the load and become painful and tight, reducing your mobility and causing fatigue.
Correcting alignment and asymmetry is almost impossible without improving your mobility. Muscles will continue to activate in compensation for those that are weak. This will not only slow you down, but will also dramatically increase your risks of injury in the future.
How yoga can help you improve your physical performance
There are many aspects of yoga that come together to provide benefits on both a psychological and physical level. Let’s just say, yoga’s not just about relaxing and connecting with your breath. Through regular practice, yoga postures can help you improve your mobility incredibly quickly while combining in elements of strength.
When you exercise, whether professionally or simply to remain healthy, you place stress on your body’s muscles and joints. Yoga acts as a stress-management tool, focusing on the movement and your mobility, as well as your awareness and concentration.
Holding yoga postures, moving between poses and focusing on the way your body feels has a range of potential physical benefits including:
- Improves flexibility by stretching your muscles
- Helps to improve posture
- Acts to re-align the body
- Improves mobility and range in the joints by lengthening your ligaments
- Reduces the risks of injury
- Aids as a rehabilitation for injury
- Enhances your stride length
- Improves your co-ordination
- Improves stamina and fitness
- Aids in improving your body awareness
Improving your mobility will increase the range of motion in both your muscles and joints. It’s going to help you not only during your ride, but also in alleviating everyday aches and pains that seem to be increasing with age.
Here is a simple yoga routine I wanted to share with you to help give you a wee taste of what is in our Online Dressage Rider Training program. I find often people have a perception of what yoga is and are to scared to even try it. My style is very specific to dressage riders and this routine is nice a simple to try out before you ride.
It is these benefits mentioned above why yoga and mobility work play such a big role in our online dressage rider training program. We combine this with core strength and exercises to improve balance, alignment and stability in the saddle. Ultimately the aim to help you enjoy your riding more. Learn more about the program here.