The part “STABILITY” plays in speed and powerful actions.

If you slam the door of a room with a wobbly plywood wall as you slam the door the wall will wobble and much of the energy will be lost here rather than in the door actually slamming shut versus slamming the door on a brick wall, which will swing on a firm hinge and will then be directly translated into being shut.

shutting-doorAction is the same.  How do we expect to run when our body crumbles above us?  Or hit a ball in tennis or throw a ball when the trunk is not holding still for the arm to move against.  Running is about our legs moving at pace from the hip joint – and the torso remaining strong and stable.  The upper body can move but it is rotating around the straight spindle of the spine.  The legs are gliding backwards and forwards under the hip which is really quite static – held in place by the core and the trunk muscles to the spine and upper body.

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Go out and look at the average person running on the street.  Bent forwards, lifting the knee up and pushing it backwards.

 

 

Knees rolling in and out, ankles wobbling around, lower back flexing.

There is so much energy lost in the wobbling and moving of the rest of the body, it is not surprising that there is a loss in speed, and inability to improve.  It is not surprising that injury is prevalent and often occurs in the knee, ankle and lower back for the instability.

Versus Olympic runners – running tall and vertical, with strong powerful stomach muscles and pelvis held taught to the lower spine, not an ounce of energy lost in unstable knee movement or lower back buckling or ankle rolling around.  Every bit of energy and push is converted directly into motion forwards.

Pilates is a very good basis for learning how to keep the trunk still and move the limbs around it, however pilates does not address any underlying issues immediately.

If the leg/pelvis (hip) joint is stiff in these people then the ability to perform the full range of motion of the leg from the pelvis will not be there and so the person will compromise and bend at the pelvis to spine joint – causing the lower back or if this is stiff causing the upper back to arch and eventually causing a muscular irritation in the over active area, or a discomfort in the sacroiliac joint if we are talking lower back.  Eventually this causes wear and tear and degeneration of the discs and before we know where we are we are being scanned and operated on for degenerative discs.

Biomechanics Coaching approaches all this – even when there is wear and tear.  I have a passive way of testing and looking at the ability of the body to move around certain joints, whether there are restrictions anywhere, if so what are the effects of these restrictions – are they blocking movement and causing a change in how another joint/area should move and if so – what do we do about the block/route cause of the problem.

This is essential to improve performance and power in sport to be moving from a stable correct base, it is essential for recovery form pain and injury and also in order to avoid further injury.  The body can exist with a fair amount of degeneration, but it needs to be working evenly.

We address all of this at Biospheric Performance – we break down the body and its ability to perform at each joint.  Break down the movement required for the sport and the build it back up to create correct action in a stronger, agile, more balanced way.

 

 

 

 

“How are you going to get your horse fit?”

I was asked this question when I bought my horse and was planning on hunting it 3 months after settling him into his new home.

“How are you going to get him fit?”  ….. How would I get a human fit I thought.  I would keep a training diary and write a regime, covering all the areas of fitness – increased endurance, increased strength, increased core work/ flexibility/ agility.  I would use the heart rate as a gauge as to how fit the animal was and in what zones I was working him.  On looking into this I realised horses and humans are animals and whilst having the obvious differences they are essential muscle, fat, bones, organs and water.  They need the same dietary requirements of protein, fats and carbohydrates for the same things – carbs for energy, protein/ amino acids to build muscle, water to hydrate and keep the cells and lubricated and the body juices flowing.  Food sources are different obviously, we need to eat meat to get our best source of protein (although it is debatable that we possibly eat too much meat).  But we can learn a lot about ourselves from our furry neighbours and we can translate on to them a lot as well.  Too much starch/sugar makes us both gain weight, but can in the process make us all “fizzy”or over excited.  Hyperactive children most of the time could be sorted out with diet – more vegetables and less processed food.  It is very real with a horse – because they can be out of control when over excited.

So on the exercise – how do I know how puffed he is – the perceived rate of exertion with humansScreen Shot 2015-12-04 at 16.48.11 is about talking to the client and seeing how fatigued they are.  I can look at his demeanour or how much puffing he is doing, but to really know I need a Heart Rate monitor, then I can see when he is getting anxious, when he is tired, what he looks like when he is concerned – I can learn my horse much quicker.
So I spoke to Polar, we use their equipment in the gym.  They have two different types of monitor, a belt like us – but this is actually quite hard to use with a girth and saddle oScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 14.34.14r even a lunge roller.  So they have devised a system with just sensors which you poke under the girth, which is also tricky because of the wires.  The belt is cleaner, but it bridges away from the rib cage which is not round but kind of rectangular at the underneath.  Anyway I have definitely learnt a bScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 14.34.30it from using the equipment so far and can now make my training more meaningful and more specific, the biggest thing i learnt was the flight and fight instinct of these animals – one can be walking along and all of a sudden the HR shoots up – he is in flight m
ode and ready to run from the lion!!  I think our inter
retation can be interesting between a horse being excited and loving something like careering around with its friends and in fact a horse being terrified – they run when running away in a herd.

So when the Heart rate was graphed it was fascinating there were huge spikes.  Anyway the point was that there are despite what people in each field would like to believe incredible similarities training a horse to training a human, in dietary requirements, not in  dietary source – being that we are carnivores and horses are not, but also in exercise requirements and not in the “how” – that took some thinking – but in the need to engage the core and lift the abs and use the glutes.

All very similar.

 

The role of the Seat and Leg when riding a horse

There is a lot of discussion around seat and leg position in riding horses – the role of each, what one is trying to achieve etc. To strip away all of the detail what we are trying to do is sit on our horses back as lightly and relaxed as possible, to go with their movement whilst remaining in balance and not pulling them of one way or the other.  If I were to sit on your shoulders and lean one way or another I would pull you around and possibly make you loose balance.  This is what we are doing on a horse.

The aim therefore is to sit as lightly as possible using our legs, and stirrups to help us to stay on top of the horse, while using our core as our main stabiliser.  Our own balance and stability keeps us there – we should not be gripping with our thighs and knees and hanging on to the reigns.

When we hang on to the reigns we are literally jabbing the horse in the mouth with the bit, which is at worst “cruel” and at best “not very comfortable”.  This causes the horse to lift his head in the air sink his back and prevents him using his core and driving from the back end.  I would hasten to go so far and pointing out that this can be a major contributor to soreness in horses backs.

Our trunk should be able to support itself. If we hold a weighted bar vertically it does not take much effort to keep it there – if we lean it even every so slightly we will have to grip onto it harder to hold it from falling down.  This is the same as us leaning our body forwards from our hip joint (leg to pelvis) we will feel a substantial increase in core load as we do this – providing we remain straight and do not fold in the middle – as in the jump position in riding and to a certain extent going around a corner.

The second pointer is not to be gripping with our knees and thighs to hold on.  If we look at various teachings we need to be at one with the horse, without being heavy.  We need to be sitting around him and going with him without inhibiting his movement and “blocking” him.  If we push into the stirrups we will lift our bum off the saddle and have a tense leg.  Tension in our legs is hard and not comfortable for the horse, and one of the signals to slow a horse down is to “hold” or “block” them. To slow out movement and they will follow.  With time the horse will become responsive to simply the movement of the pelvis as a sign to speed up and slow down.

We cannot be light on our seat if we are not balanced and clinging on.  clothes-pegA good visualisation is that of our legs being like a clothes peg down each side of the horse and our body straight up.  The area of strength is at the top of the arch, where the string goes through – our bum.  So we stabilise from our bum.  As the horse turns or we wobble we should be using out bum – our gluteus muscles to hold our torso above out centre, rather than centrifuging off to the outside of the bend.  I think a good thought is to be pushing from the feet into the head – so lengthening the body and becoming lighter all the way through – not pushing up from the feet and lifting the seat off the saddle, but sitting taller and lighter.  As if standing.

The key is in strengthening this core control so that we can hold our balance and be independently balanced on our horse.  Only then can we use our hands and arms and our legs freely to guide and aid the horse with symmetrical actions.