WHAT’S NEW IN EQUESTRIAN PILATES®?

September 24, 2009

OCTOBER 09 NEWSLETTER

The EQUESTRIAN PILATES® Monthly Newsletter is a fun way to keep in touch with the latest news.

This is a short except from the October ’09 Newsletter.  To receive the newsletter please “join our mailing list”.

This month I am pleased to announce three new e-books available for sale. Below are three sample exercises.

SAMPLE EXERCISES FROM THE THREE NEW E-BOOKS

Basic EQUESTRIAN PILATES® Mat

How to Make Your Horse Happy by Dramatically Improving your RidingAn Off-the-Horse Rider Exercise Program for EVERY Discipline.

PostionA

Bridging

Spinal Bridging

Goal – Lengthen and increase the flexibility of your spine by rolling through each vertebra while engaging your abdominal muscles to initiate and control your movement.  (After each bridge the spine should feel longer).

Application to Riding – Flexibility, suppleness, and added length in the spine helps prevent a rigid posture and allows you sit up tall while in the saddle.  Suppleness, strength and flexibility in the spine also helps you more evenly distribute the stress of absorbing the horse’s motion. Spinal bridging will also help eliminate head bobbing and will balance the seat.

Position Description – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Movement

  1. Inhale through the nose.
  2. Exhale through the mouth as you engage your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Inhale through your nose. As you exhale raise your tailbone toward the ceiling, flattening your lower back.  Curl your spine up, one vertebra at a time, ending in a bridge.
  4. In the bridge position, inhale through your nose and reach with the knees to lengthen the spine.
  5. Exhale through your mouth as you curl back down, one vertebra at a time, returning to neutral spine position.
  6. Repeat 7 more times.

Notice – Pay close attention to whether or not your spine easily peels off the mat one vertebra at a time or if it feels more like a huge chunk moving at once.  Focus on engaging your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor allowing your lower back to relax.  Notice how your spine lengths and releases tension.  Do not to allow yourself to sink into one hip or the other for support – this means you are overusing one side to support your body weight and under using the opposite.  If this happens, engage your stomach muscles to even out your hips.  Relax your gluts and your leg muscles and focus on your strength coming from your core and pelvic floor.

Intermediate EQUESTRIAN PILATES® Mat

How to Make Your Horse Happy by Dramatically Improving your RidingAn Off-the-Horse Rider Exercise Program for EVERY Discipline.

Ribcage1

Ribcage2

Ribcage Arms with Weights

Goal -“ Learn to move your arms while engaging your core, serratus anterior, and latissimus dorsi ‘œlats’ and maintaining neutral spine (not arching or flattening your back).  This exercise also stretches the latissimus dorsi and strengthens the abdominal obliques and teaches you to feel arm movement from your back musculature rather than initiating strength and movement from the arm muscles.  These muscles are very important for proper saddle posture as they provide added strength to support the upper torso while using the arms.

Application to Riding – Achieving the goals of this exercise can prevent a domino effect of compensation patterns throughout your body while on horseback. Typically overuse of the arms leads to hanging onto the reins, tips your weight too far forward in the saddle and then causes you to grip with your knees and inner thighs to maintain your balance.  Initiating strength from the core and back before using your arms teaches you how to slide your shoulders down the back away from the ears, prevents slouching, and makes it easier to sit up tall in the saddle while remaining relaxed.

Position Description – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Hold a three-pound weight in each hand.

Movement

  1. Inhale through your nose.
  2. Exhale through your mouth as you reach your arms long by your sides with your hands reaching toward your feet.  Engage your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles and keep your shoulders down.
  3. Inhale through your nose.
  4. Exhale through your mouth as you raise both arms towards your head and up towards the ceiling.  Keep your lower ribs on the floor.  Keep reaching your arms long.
  5. Inhale through your nose.
  6. Exhale through your mouth as you bring your arms as far overhead as possible while keeping your ribs down. If your ribs ‘œpop’ off the mat you have gone too far.
  7. Inhale through your nose.
  8. Exhale through your mouth as you bring your arms back to your sides and reach your hands towards your feet.  Feel the shoulder blades pulling down the back.
  9. Repeat 8 times.

Notice – As in the beginning version of the exercise, focus on using your serratus anterior and lats to move your arms back and forth.  You should feel this movement from the sides of your body, just below your armpits, and from your upper back, particularly in the shoulder blades. Adding weights makes it more likely to recruit the pecs and arms as these muscles are more commonly used for this type of work.  Try to minimize the movement of these muscles. Instead focus on the muscles of the shoulder girdle.

Note about adding weights
– “ It is very tempting to want to try more than 3 pound weights.  Adding weights makes it more likely to recruit the muscles of the arms as these muscles are more commonly used for this type of work.  Do not use more than 3-pound weights until you can minimize the use of the pectoral and arm muscles and maximize the use of the serratus anterior and latissimus.

Advanced EQUESTRIAN PILATES® Mat

How to Make Your Horse Happy by Dramatically Improving your RidingAn Off-the-Horse Rider Exercise Program for EVERY Discipline.

SpineStretch1

SpineStretch2Goal – To stretch the upper and lower back.

Application to Riding “ Keeping the lower back stretched makes it easier for the rider to sit up tall in the saddle.  The constant jarring motion of the horse can cause the lower back to get tight making it extremely important to stretch daily.  This exercise is another way to teach your body how to work from your abdominal muscles.

Position Description – “ Sit on the floor with your legs slightly wider than hip width apart with a ball in between both of your legs at about your knees.  If you can’t sit in neutral spine (i.e. shoulder over hip without rounding your back) bend your legs and press your heels into the floor.  Your arms should be shoulder width apart, straight ahead at shoulder height with your hands holding either side of the ball.

Movement

  1. Inhale in through your nose and sit up as tall as you can from the base of your spine.  Flex your feet and reach through your heels to engage your leg muscles.
  2. As you exhale out through your mouth round your back to a ‘œC’ curve as you pull your belly button in towards your spine and round your neck and head forward as you push the ball forward, towards and, if possible, past your toes.  You should feel as if your upper body, the waist and above is reaching forward, and the lower body, the waist and below is reaching and scooping back. By the end of the movement your whole back is in the shape of a ‘œC’ with your arms reaching forward, towards your toes.  Keep holding onto the sides of the ball.
  3. Inhale in through your nose.
  4. As you exhale through your mouth stack your spine back up bone by bone starting at the sacrum and finishing at the neck as you pull the ball back in. You will finish by sitting tall in your starting position with you arms extended in front of you, your shoulders relaxed and dropped and using your hands to hold onto both sides of the ball.
  5. Repeat 7 times.

Notice – “ As you reach forward feel as if you are rounding over a ball.  Try to curve your upper back and feel as if your lower back is also rounded and pushing backwards.  Don’t start the movement from your head; it should trail the body.  When re-stacking your spine your head should be the last thing to rise.

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