Equestrian PT Clinic

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Physical Therapy Evaluations available onsite: Arlene White (561) 222-4400
Postural Alignment for Riders:  Anna Nielsen  (941) 685-7150
Anna Nielsen- MSc Exercise Science, MSc Equine Science, Certified Egoscue® Postural Alignment Specialist.  email: equestrianbodywork@gmail.com

 

Functional Rider Posture

Muscular imbalances and asymmetries negatively affect our ability to use our bodies in a coordinated fashion – something that is important in riding! 

Posture is a term used to describe ideal body mass distribution against the force of gravity. Postural control refers to the ac of maintaining, achieving and/or restoring a state of balance during any activity. Our bodies function according to an innate blue print. There is absolute logic in how the body is “designed.” It is this design that allows us to move and function properly. Today, we live in a sedentary world, increasingly infused with long periods of time spent in spinal flexion and one-sided repetitive movement patterns. Most of no longer enjoy “ideal postural alignment.”

“You should ride like you were standing there, relaxed, with your feet apart and your knees bent, and a horse walked up under you.”
Xenophon

The assumption hidden in Xenophon’s quote is that we have good alignment while “standing there, relaxed.” For most of us, this is no longer the case. Repetitive movements of daily life have altered our static posture – and in doing so has altered the way our bodies are able to move. When the body’s posture is out of alignment it begins to compensate for these imbalances, potentially resulting in muscle tightness, decreased flexibility, and eventually the onset of pain. If left untreated, this can also lead to injury and or poor athletic performance. Furthermore all nerves run through the spine. If the spine is misaligned it can interfere with ideal nerve transmission. Since the nerves control al of our body’s basic functions, any interference has significant impact on our overall health! 

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Riders have to be strong, flexible and supple – but what we desire more than anything is to ride with “feel.” This is more difficult and elusive to “work on.” We sometimes don’t take into consideration how our tendency to be right or left handed influences our ability to give even and well-coordinated aids. In addition we all develop muscular imbalances and asymmetries and, over time, start to feel as if those are “normal.” In other words: we are not always aware of the fact that our bodies have developed faulty posture and functionality. We are often not bothered by faulty posture in daily life and often can perform quite well in athletic endeavors. But when we sit on a horse faulty posture can have a more significant and negative impact.

Faulty posture negatively affects body coordination!

Faulty posture limits your ability to develop a symmetrical and stable seat!

Faulty posture can give rise to discomfort and pain!

In order to eliminate or alleviate musculoskeletal pain we have to re-educate our bodies as to how they should move. Often faulty posture has become a habit and our body starts to accept this as “normal.” By re-aligning the body we can re-educate our bodies and re-gain functionality so that we can get started on building a strong and supple seat!

Egoscue® is a method of postural alignment which uses uniquely tailored stretches and exercises to gently coax the body back to its natural alignment. This allows the body to return to function correctly, efficiently, and ultimately free of pain.