Midline Stabilization And Organization For Dressage Riders
In order to be a successful dressage rider no matter what level you are riding at, its important that you know how to organize your spine for optimal balance and stability while riding and with anything that you do off your horse. If you don’t organize your spine optimally you can’t transmit force and absorb movement through your hips and pelvis affectively. The result being that you struggle to sit to the trot or canter and that your posture then affects the horses movement. A stable and well organized trunk and posture is the key to moving safely and riding affectively.
Where many go wrong I believe is in their interpretation of words and not understanding the feeling that a stable trunk and core creates. If you brace your core but round your back, this is going to create undue force and vulnerability through your spine. Then if you sit up with shoulders back and an arched back your spine again becomes naked and susceptible to injury, especially when you add in the force the movement of a horse creates.
Many will get away with poor posture, but eventually poor biomechanics catches up with you either in the form of pain or injury. Riders who aren’t aware of these key areas will ultimately compromise their riding success.
The truth is people don’t do these things on purpose and would never continue to sit at the computer with rounded shoulders every day, run poorly or lift bales of hay badly if the effects were immediate. In most situations they aren’t they add up over time and you keep doing these things until you can’t and your body tells you to eventually stop doing them.
Our body tells us when our posture is poor and the key is to listen and begin by setting yourself up with great stabilization day in and day out. After all practice does make perfect!
Your trunk and your spine is the hub of your body, if this is in a poor position so to will be your pelvis, hips and shoulders. When you fix spinal position you improve biomechanics of the body and decrease your risk of wear and tear of your ligaments and tissue. Not to mention become a better more balance rider!
Create this step by step approach each and every day off the horse and then each and every ride. If you set yourself up with the same template each day, you get the same results. So then when you apply to that stressful situations like a competition you have a recipe for success.
Bracing Sequence For Your Spine
The first thing you need to do is set your pelvis into neutral position, so place you hand on your sternum and position your feet parallel to each other under your hips. Screw your feet into the ground and squeeze your bottom. Now relax the bottom but keep that position through your hips, knees and pelvis.
Time to pull your lower ribs in and balance your ribcage over your pelvis. Imagine your pelvis is a bowl full to the brim of water and so to is your ribcage. They are now both equally balanced above each other and you don’t want to let any of the water spill out.
Now its time to brace your core to lock the ribcage and the pelvis above each other. Think about corseting in your waist as if you have shrink wrap around you. Its not about hollowing or sucking in your tummy, its about bracing. Think if I was to come and push you, you wouldn’t fall over. You are solid and braced through your middle. Now breathe. Hold this position and let your upper body relax and breath.
To finish off, set your head, neck and shoulders into position. Centre your head over your shoulders, think about bringing your ears over your shoulders, hips and ankles. Then draw the heads of your arm bones back to bring a stretch through your collar bones. Then release your shoulders down and back. Then squeeze your shoulder blades down and back.
Now each of these steps are vital in order for you to set up a solid and strong neutral spine. Practice these on and off the horse and make it part of your daily routine. When you are driving, sitting at your desk and doing a workout, this neutral spine should be carried with you.
The more you do this, the more second nature it will become and the better your riding will be as a result.
For more information on how you can improve your core strength and fitness check out our dressage rider program. All the workouts, education and information you need to become a fit, strong and healthy rider. Take your dressage up to the next level by becoming the best rider you can be. Best of all, this can all be done in your living room. Learn more here.