5 Swissball Moves To Improve Your Riding Posture
When we ride in a good position the body has an illusion of stillness. This stillness is created by muscles working to balance and keep us properly aligned in the saddle while the horse moves beneath us. The more balanced and stable you are generally speaking the more efficient your muscles are at doing their job. Your body can adapt its balance and fire up the right muscles to keep you biomechanically aligned within the saddle.
So how can you train this?
This is why swiss balls (aka gym balls) are so fantastic, they create that unstable environment underneath you so you can build your strength and coordination up off the horse. The constant changing of balance improves your muscles coordination and ability to recruit to keep you stable. You can also progress your training according to where your strength is at. This way you are able to truly develop good strength, balance and muscle coordination without it impacting your horse or your horse impacting you. So then when you do hop on your horses back, you have a true sense of balance and what is required to remain aligned in the saddle.
Swissball Sitting With Neutral Spine
To begin with its important you choose the right size swiss ball. The key is that when you are sitting on it, it creates a 90 degree bend in your legs when your heels are underneath your knees. If you are unsure about this concept read my article about how to achieve neutral spine in dressage here.
Swiss Ball Sitting Lifting One Foot
Then once you have got comfortable with sitting on the swiss ball with your neutral spine play around with lifting one foot off the ground at a time. Only lift it about 1-2 cm and the key is that you don’t rock over to one side. You are engaging the right muscles to keep you stable without dropping to the side. Think of this like keeping yourself balanced as you ask for a canter aid or leg yielding across the arena. You don’t want to slouch over to one side. Instead, think balanced and stable.
Swiss Ball Sitting Alternating Shoulder Press Leg Lift
You could then progress this move further by having a dumbbell in your hand and doing a shoulder press. First, start with nothing and begin with your hand at 90 degrees and both feet on the ground. Then without rocking from side to side push your hand to the sky, by straightening your arm. Progress this by adding a weight to your press and lifting the opposite foot up like before. Remember to keep your neutral spine and stay stable in both seat bones.
Swiss Ball Prone Single Leg Lifts
Now that you have mastered the sitting on the ball, let’s strengthen your stability even more with these moves here for your lower back and glutes. Start by lying on the swiss ball and place your hands on the ground. Then lift one leg up at a time, without letting the swiss ball move or your back. Think of having a glass of water on your back and try not to spill it. Go as slow as you need and swap legs each time.
Swiss Ball Prone Partial Leg Lifts
Once you have got that last move perfected take it a little further by now lifting up both legs. Just start by lifting them up to your hip height, so they are parallel to the floor.
Swiss Ball Prone Leg Lifts
Then once you have built that strength up, think of really lifting them up to strengthen your lower back and glutes even more.
Start by just practicing each of these moves individually, then once you feel you are ready bring them into a workout routine like this.
Swiss Ball Workout
Sitting Lifting One Foot x 10 each leg
Sitting Alternating Shoulder Press Leg Lift x 10 each leg
Prone Single Leg Lifts x 10 each leg
Prone Partial Leg Lifts x 10
Prone Leg Lifts x 10
Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat another round.
Do this 2 times per week.
For full workout videos and a step by step progressive program check out our Dressage Rider Training program. All the tools you need to take your rider fitness to the next level. From full HD swiss ball workouts, through to mobility work, balance, yoga and mindset advice. Learn more here.