Are you supposed to FORCE heels down? My lightbulb moment! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Are you supposed to FORCE heels down? My lightbulb moment!

Hi guys!

I recently posted a thread about keeping my lower calf on, but I think I may have discovered something...

I was hacking around the other day, and decided to experiment with different things to see if they would improve my leg. I noticed that if I keep a natural weight in my heel (still down like it should be), my calf is easy to keep on as with my entire leg. BUT, when I force my heels down, like REALLY down, my leg bounces around...does this make sense? The only thing I could come up with is that by forcing my heels down and focusing on that, my leg came loose because my muscles and attention were focused on something else. But still, when I try to focus on my leg, heels, etc, I can't get them all working properly. It's only when I push my heel down just enough, that I can keep my leg on, too.

Any ideas?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:03 AM
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I agree. Certainly a 'lightbulb' moment

My trainer says that you shouldn't focus on the heels down because as you said some people FORCE their heels down. Instead she said to keep your toes up. Okay, not perpendicular to the ground but the point was to keep your weight in the heel, y'know what I mean? It gave a similar effect and for me it works better.

Anyway. Like I said, I think that this is a very good thought.
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Yay! I was worried I was going crazy...
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:18 AM
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If you're constantly hearing about keeping your heels down in a lesson, it's entirely possible that your calf muscle or achilles tendon is tight, and the only way you can get your heels down is to force them.

Forcing them is bad, among other things, it robs your ankle and knee of the flexibility to be good shock absorbers and it will make your riding stiff.

The solution is to stretch your calf and achiles tendon. Find a step, but the balls of your feet on the step and allow your weight to sink into your heels until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 5 - 10 seconds, release and repeat. Try doing 5 of these twice a day before your next lesson.

During the lesson, thinking "toes up" instead of "heels down" is a great idea, as it will encourage the stretching down rather than the forcing down.

In your lesson, when you work on two point or jump position, use that as an opportunity to stretch down into your heels and find a good lower leg position.

Do take lots of breaks, both on the steps and during your lesson, to take your feet out of the stirrups and relax your legs and rotate your feet and ankles.
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:31 AM
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a showjumper who jumped in the RDS in Dublin Ireland told me that keeping the heel down is old fashioned and not to really force it anymore.
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:39 AM
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Stop thinking of the term "Push your heels down" and start thinking of the term "Get your weight in your heels"

When you allow the weight of your body to naturally dispurse into your heels, then things will be much easier :) As I find :)

If you allow the weight to naturally flow, from your head, into your seat, and from your seat into your heels - there's no forcing, but yet, you are still anchored.

No gripping or pinching with your knee's or your tigh or calves - make sure you have even "pressure" - light contact through your thigh, knee and calves on the saddle, but no gripping or pinching. The moment you block that weight flow from happening, there's no where for that weight to go, so then you find yourself "balancing" on your feet incorrectly. Your leg should remain neutral, until you need it.

I do a lot of 2 point work, where I allow my weight to flow into my heels, while making sure I am balanced over my feet.

I don't think heels down, or toes up - I think weight in my heels. When I think that, everything for me, just naturally happens, without force.

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post #7 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 10:54 AM
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I think trainers got into the habit of telling people to "push" your heels down because it's not a natural position for a lot of people, especially if you're stiff in the ankle, so they have to make a conscious effort to get their heel lower then their toe. The problem is people tend to shove their heels down as hard as they can which 1) stiffens their whole leg, esp ankle (which defeats the whole shock absorbing purpose of having a heel down) and 2) pushes your leg out in front of you. I did a little "experiment" one day when I told a bunch of my beginner students to "push" their heel down and 9 out of 10 times they threw their lower leg out in front of them! Interesting huh? But then you say, "sink your weight into your heels" or "relax your ankle and lengthen your leg" and their heel lowers and their leg stays balanced.

Glad you had a lightbulb moment!
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upnover View Post
I think trainers got into the habit of telling people to "push" your heels down because it's not a natural position for a lot of people, especially if you're stiff in the ankle, so they have to make a conscious effort to get their heel lower then their toe. The problem is people tend to shove their heels down as hard as they can which 1) stiffens their whole leg, esp ankle (which defeats the whole shock absorbing purpose of having a heel down) and 2) pushes your leg out in front of you. I did a little "experiment" one day when I told a bunch of my beginner students to "push" their heel down and 9 out of 10 times they threw their lower leg out in front of them! Interesting huh? But then you say, "sink your weight into your heels" or "relax your ankle and lengthen your leg" and their heel lowers and their leg stays balanced.

Glad you had a lightbulb moment!
That's what works for me! Great post, and thanks for sharing your eperience! I like hearing things like that, and finding out what works for students and what doesn't.

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post #9 of 15 Old 01-29-2011, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MIEventer View Post
That's what works for me! Great post, and thanks for sharing your eperience! I like hearing things like that, and finding out what works for students and what doesn't.
Your welcome! I try to fill my teaching with as many ways of explaining things as I can because some things worth with some that don't work with others. And there are certain things that universally don't seem to be very effective.
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-30-2011, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!

And funny you should mention the tight ankle, my right ankle has a bad case of tendonitis/inflammation in it from riding so my right leg is pretty much shot No heels down/weight in that ankle for me!
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