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dressagexlee 01-29-2010 02:58 AM

Supple Lumbar Spine and Lower Back Muscles
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.

ridergirl23 01-29-2010 01:50 PM

im not sure, but what i find loosens up my whole back is to twist one way( in the saddle) then the other, i find it helps.

my aunts horse gabby actually gets the rider to tense up their back and hold in their back in the canter, which is weird, but it feels like someones throwing you up, then slapping you down again. i just really scoop with my seat and focus on softening her back, then soon enough she goes into a rolly, more collected canter.

Romantic Lyric 01-29-2010 03:57 PM

It could be that your spine is out of alignment and therefore causing your muscles to tense up to compensate. I was having a lot neck pain - I thought muscle pain, so I would get a massage and it would only help for a bit. Then, I got chiropractically adjusted and voila! No more neck pain. I know you're probably looking for free ways to help your lower back, but if it's really that bad, I think it might be worth it to check out a chiropractor.

eralcx3 01-30-2010 08:05 PM

yes! Go to a chiropractor!! They make miracles happen!! Just go to a good chiropractor, let them know what is wrong and then let them work their magic on you. haha

dressagexlee 01-30-2010 11:37 PM

I tried the twisting thing today. It helped a little, and my trainer also told me about "hip rotating" (think Elvis style). My back is already starting to loosen!

My spine isn't out of alignment, but I probably do have knots. But I absolutely can't afford a chiropractor or massage therapist. If I could, I probably spend it on Otis first! ~

tealamutt 02-06-2010 01:13 AM

You could also check out some dvd's called "Yoga and Riding" which focus on balance and loosening exercises. I broke my back 16 years ago and recently started riding again, it has been a challenge to stay loose. It seems counter intuitive, but the more you strengthen the muscles of the core, the looser you can allow it to be as well. So keep on with the pilates but don't forget to add gentle stretches to your daily routine as well.

MyBoyPuck 02-06-2010 06:47 PM

Have you read Centered Riding 2? Sally swift has a chapter about loosening your extremities up before riding. I also am tight in my lower back, but shaking out my arm and legs before riding seems to do wonders for freeing up my torso.

rocky pony 02-07-2010 02:02 AM

I don't know if it's any help at all but I used to see a chiropractor and she told me about a really awesome lower back stretch. You sit on your knees on the floor and reach as far forward as you can with both of your hands with your fingers and forehead resting on the floor. Kind of makes you look like you're worshipping something in front of you, haha
It stretches that whole area really nicely!

Hope I can help at least a little! Good luck =)

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