I have something that has been really nagging me lately. When I watch videos of myself ride, I can see that I look quite "heavy" while sitting the trot, and I bounce out of the saddle in the canter very slightly, even when my horse is really working connected.
But I've figured it out. My lower back is really tight, and there isn't much mobility in my lumbar spine. I can feel the tension while I'm walking around or standing. The rest of my core is very strong, but I think I'm just developing too much muscle in my abdominals but none in my lower back region, probably from riding incorrectly (I wish for lunge-line lessons. But there aren't any saintly horses to put up with me! I-i). I'm worried also because I can see a slight arch beginning to appear (hyper lordosis or swayback!).
It's eating me, I feel kept from really developing an independent seat and legs, keeping my hips loose and following the horse, and I'm just tense with a lot of things in and out of the saddle. It's even affecting the way I sleep, because I can't really get loose and comfortable.
I've tried surfing the internet for "lower back exercises/stretches" or "increasing the lumbar spine flexibility", and I've found nothing. Everything is either adverts for yoga classes that you can take, or stupidly expensive fitness pillows and such. Really, that's all well and good, but I'm kind of short on money, and I need to save up for shows and possible board for a new (!) horse.
I do Pilates and other stretching exercises, though I seem to be having difficulty finding exercises for this specific thing. It seems common that riders have lower back issues, especially dressage riders. But I want to minimize the pain and problems I have now and may have in the future by strengthing, stretching, and "de-tensitizing" my back, and also therefore improve my ride and overall fitness. So, does anybody have stretches/exercises that I can do to help encourage my lower back to do these things? Whether they are on horseback or on the ground, it doesn't matter.