Loosening up your body-- a good exercise to try - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-11-2010, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Loosening up your body-- a good exercise to try

I was taught this as a kid, and I teach this to all of my students. It is very effective and it can help in all different facets of life, not just riding. I've wanted to type this out for a few different threads, but I decided to just start a new one.

Sooooo here it goes. Think about riding, and how tense you can get up there. Your shoulders, your arms are locked, you aren't supple, and your horse can't possibly be if you aren't. What to do?

Try this: Where you are sitting right now, think about your lower back. Is it tense? Chances are pretty good, that yes, it is.

So. Now, think about relaxing your lower back. Do so, and breathe, and feel the effects that come from simply relaxing your lower back. Your whole body will release.

It starts at your lower back and travels to your shoulders, your arms, your elbows, and your wrists. Once your shoulders and arms are unlocked, your neck can relax, followed by your jaw. Your butt, your legs, your ankles, your feet. Somehow, everything can relax simultaneously if you are able to fully relax your lower back. It's great! Try it in the car, at work, and at your computer desk at home. It is very bizarre.


It is even weirder when you transfer that exercise to riding. It is very cool! How can you expect to move all of your limbs independently of each other when they are tense? If you can relax, your horse can relax. If you are tense, your horse will feed off of that and things can snowball quickly.

Try it next time you ride. Get on your horse, and from the second you get on, think about your lower back. Relax it, and continue on. Work towards a relaxed lower back for every minute you are riding. Try it on your transitions, while you are loping, anything. It is a fun, but difficult task to master, but holy cow it can do amazing things for your posture and the way you ride.

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post #2 of 9 Old 04-11-2010, 10:38 PM
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Thanks for sharing! My shoulder and arms are my worst enemy when riding - I'll have to try this the next time I am riding!

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post #3 of 9 Old 04-12-2010, 12:22 AM
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Question, If my back is always tense which I've been having back problems for a couple years. How would I know the difference between it being "normal" or relaxed? Like when you said "Try this: Where you are sitting right now, think about your lower back. Is it tense? Chances are pretty good, that yes, it is."

I was trying to think is it tense? It feels normal, but my normal is crappy. So if im trying to do the excersize how can I tell if my back is really relaxed?
Does that even make sence? My whole body is screwed up right now and im constantly in pain. But I think I've confused myself trying to explain it :/

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post #4 of 9 Old 04-12-2010, 12:50 AM
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My lower back is always, ALWAYS tense. I am not sure if I can even relax it just by thinking about it. Do you know of any physical exercises that could help? What I really need is probably to go to the chiropractor or something, but I haven't done that yet.

Thanks for posting this!
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-12-2010, 08:35 PM
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Omg! I actually tried this today! I've really been working on getting my horse to respond to leg aids, and she's coming along really well, but today she was also really fast. So, just at the back of my mind, my brain asked: "Is your lower back tense?" and it was. So I relaxed, and, just like magic, she slowed down. Thank you! I'll keep this in mind every time I ride.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-13-2010, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travlingypsy View Post
Question, If my back is always tense which I've been having back problems for a couple years. How would I know the difference between it being "normal" or relaxed? Like when you said "Try this: Where you are sitting right now, think about your lower back. Is it tense? Chances are pretty good, that yes, it is."

I was trying to think is it tense? It feels normal, but my normal is crappy. So if im trying to do the excersize how can I tell if my back is really relaxed?
Does that even make sence? My whole body is screwed up right now and im constantly in pain. But I think I've confused myself trying to explain it :/

Dude, i'm sorry about your back issues and pain.

Imagine the way your back feels when you are laying in your most comfortable position in bed right before you fall asleep. It is very hard to fall asleep when you are tense. Try this. Take a really deep breath, and as you exhale try to melt into your couch/chair/seat. Think about relaxing and releasing every muscle in your body. Once you do that, think about your lower back. This is what I mean. Like I said, it is very difficult for a lot of people! Just like Kegel exercises, it is a great thing to practice anywhere you are.



For instance, with me.... ever since I was a teenager I would always suck in my stomach, my shoulders would be tense and back, and my lower back would be tense because of it. I also hold my breath a lot, or take very shallow breaths. It is hard for me to relax that lower back, but as I learned how to move my limbs/muscles independently of eachother, I can now relax my lower back and still keep my shoulders back and my heels down, or be in two point. It's very odd. :)

I hope that helped!

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-13-2010, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilyTango View Post
Omg! I actually tried this today! I've really been working on getting my horse to respond to leg aids, and she's coming along really well, but today she was also really fast. So, just at the back of my mind, my brain asked: "Is your lower back tense?" and it was. So I relaxed, and, just like magic, she slowed down. Thank you! I'll keep this in mind every time I ride.

YES!!! I'm SO glad you tried it. Isn't it weird???

It just goes to show how much our body really effects our horse! Once you can relax, your horse can relax! I tend to clench my butt muscles when I ride, my major bad habit. This makes the rest of my body do weird things and it very clearly makes the horse react. When I practice the lower back trick, when I'm into the season and practicing every day, it just becomes habit, just like putting my foot into the stirrup and adjusting it properly. It's cool. :)

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post #8 of 9 Old 04-13-2010, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carleen View Post
My lower back is always, ALWAYS tense. I am not sure if I can even relax it just by thinking about it. Do you know of any physical exercises that could help? What I really need is probably to go to the chiropractor or something, but I haven't done that yet.

Thanks for posting this!
I'd definitely see a chiropractor, they can work wonders! Try what I said a few posts up, take a really deep breath, and as you exhale try to melt into your seat. You can do it. Practice!

Stretching is huge, too. Even just sitting down and stretching your arms as far up as you can, arch your back, bend your hips to each side during the stretch... it will all help. Stretching is amazing.

Try it while standing-- stretch as high up to the ceiling as you can, and relax your whole back/butt/upper body, and curl your body starting with your hands towards the floor. Like you are diving into a pool by just standing on the edge.

I stretch all throughout the day... my real job currently is a stupid desk job, and I stretch all the time!

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post #9 of 9 Old 04-13-2010, 07:43 PM
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Chiropractors are amazing.

For those who stretch to loosen up, please understand the difference between static and dynamic stretches.. (putting the muscle to sleep or waking it up (basic)

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.
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