Great article on Horse Scout

Here is a great article written on Horse Scout the networking site of the horse and equine world

Horse Scout

THE POWER OF POSTURE

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BIOSPHERIC PERFORMANCE-  Emma Westmacott

“There is little point strengthening your body with gym or fitness workouts if the structure and basis of your body is weak and out of alignment. It’s like building another storey on top of a house with bad foundations”, says Emma Westmacott of Biospheric Performance. And with a CV as impressive as Emma’s, you can take her word for it…..

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Emma understands the demands of sports both on a professional and a personal level. She has been a professional sailor for 30 years. Her achievements include three around the world race challenges, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Whitbread around the world, and a nonstop around the world record attempt called the Jules Verne – in all of these she was a watch leader/person in charge on deck and in many she managed the team fitness. She began as a skipper of private yachts running their programs and during these around the world campaigns, set up Biospheric Performance as a personal fitness and biomechanics consultant.

Alongside the demands of elite level sport, Emma cemented her knowledge as a personal fitness coach by gaining professional qualifications as a Personal Trainer – enabling her to advise on fitness and nutrition, a Pilates Instructor, as well as a UKBCA Biomechanics Coach and Gravity Trainer (a similar device to the pilates reformer – fantastic for enabling symmetry and control in the core and limbs). In addition her passion in athlete performance led her to understand the motivation and drive that takes people to the next stage in their life and sport by qualifying as a Master Practitioner in ABNLP and Hypnotherapy, giving her the ideal tools to work on her clients positive mental wellbeing and psychology. Therefore drawing the mind and body connection together.

Her client list includes athletes, such as Dame Ellen McArthur and Olympians from various sports, but now predominantly riders and just normal people looking to improve their quality of life, performance and avoid as well as return from injury. Ideally Her approach starts from a structural basis, assessing posture, balance and weak areas. Then working out a tailor-made program to help people be their best self and avoid injuries. However, there is a bit more to Emma’s service than you might expect from your regular therapist, physio or biomechanics expert.

“There is a difference in what I do, in that I take an all-round approach to fitness. I usually start by lying someone on a massage bed to assess them- looking at the whole body – feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck. With riders, I like to see them on a horse if possible, either in life or at least in video.”

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Emma then uses her wealth of experience and knowledge and a number of her many “tools of the trade”. With her extensive training in Biomechanics, she assesses alignment and symmetry, looking for potential areas of limitation and establishing if restrictions are bone/soft tissue or neurological issues. She uses both a passive (lying and standing still) and an active assessment of the person moving before mobilising and often manually stretching the body.

The process then involves designing a first “getting into a neutral position regime” followed by stabilizing and then strength orientated exercise program to make a lasting difference. She offers personal training as well as Pilates Instruction on a short or long-term basis.

“There are heaps of online courses and apps out there and yes you can make some changes if you follow them religiously, but you are never going to get life-changing result” Emma states. “Posture is not just about standing up straight, it is vital for better performance and preventing injury. If your body is aligned in every angle, you will be stronger and more powerful in whatever you do. I am trying to give people a tool box for life so that they exercise in a way that stabilises and strengthens the body for the long term.”

“ There are also many people and practitioners from all levels giving out exercises – but doing 20 “step ups” a day or 20 pilates “hip openers” is not going to combat the 20,000 steps that someone does poo picking and moving around with their horses in correctly (put another way 60 min classes or work outs will not combat the 16 hours people are awake moving incorrectly) – all exercise will be absorbed to change action to some extent but most people actually need the movement of everyday actions broken down and built back up ”

With her philosophy of looking at the whole athlete, Emma also provides sports psychology and consultation to help her clients get over mental hang-ups and works on focus and motivation, whatever their goals may be.

Based on the South Coast, Emma works from home as well as a centre in Winchester, but she also visits clients in their homes. She is available for group sessions and workshops as well as one-to-one. Ideal for riding clubs and Pony clubs.

Her prices are very competitive she gives discounts for block and group bookings

Read more about Emma on her Horse Scout profile

https://www.horsescout.com/professionals/emma-westmacott/profile/1405

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

https://www.horsescout.com/blog/general/the-power-of-posture/

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The importance of “Recoil”

The importance of “Recoil”

Recoil is an interesting concept.  Do we need muscle strength?  Maybe our bodies move in fact through stretch and release – through recoil.  In golf, cricket, tennis to even handball player would we be able to throw the ball as far if we just had strong arm muscles but no body tension?

Recoil will only work if the trunk is stable and in correct alignment and posture in order to “winde the body up” in rotation or stretch so when released it can spring back to create power and movement.

Animals in the wild do this all the time.  Look at the cheetah – he lands with his back feet way under him and then he pushes off and fires his body like a catapult over the top of his legs and stretches out to as long as he can be and then releases the stretch and his feet come back through under him again.

 

There are hundreds of examples if this with other animals

 

In order to get the most power out of our bodies we need to do the same.  We either stretch in one plan or in rotation.  We need to hold the core strong and in good alignment in order to create maximum stretch in length and in tension. Just like the animals, as the runner’s leg hits the ground and the gluteus muscles pull the body forwards and over the foot, if the core stays strong and straight and the foot remains in contact with the floor creating maximum stretch down the front of the leg, hip and body, then the athlete simply picks the foot off the floor and flicks it up behind and in the process the muscles down the front of the body will contract and pull the leg forwards and through and so running becomes effortless.  When the body is not held strong and hunches over or bends at the waist, then running is an effort and leg strength is needed to push the body forwards through a bending and straightening of the knee, the knee then gets a lot of wear and tear, as does the spine, due to a lot of bending, becoming weakened and loads on the front and back edge of the discs creating more movement which can lead to irritation of the nerves at the facet joints plus due to excessive movement the discs degenerate and wear down causing even more likelihood for irritation of the nerves.  When nerves are irritated they cause pain either at the site or along the length of the nerve – sciatic pain is a good example of this.

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Other sports such as golf and tennis are great examples of rotation and how if we corkscrew the body around we then can let go of the turn and the torso will spin back to its neutral position creating power.  For example the serve in tennis, general shots like forehand, the golf swing etc all demonstrate that when a large back swing is used it will project the ball with more power.

 

We learn as we grow and develop that if we can really stretch we can be more powerful.  Here are some wonderful pictures of Thaïs Brûlé, a young handball player in France – really getting good height and great power as she stretches her hand away from her toes.  If she were to simply jump up and then throw she would get no where near the throwing power and accuracy, her play looks light and strong.

 

For more information on how to work on posture and core strength plus to have an assessment to look at your alignment please contact us on 07748560077.

“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.

 

“I want to thank you for the significant contribution you have made to my and my family’s life over the last year.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.58.51“I want to thank you for the significant contribution you have made to my and my family’s life over the last year. I am looking forward to keeping up this level of flexibility, strength and ph
ysical confidence. I am absolutely sure that if it had not been for your input, I would not be in the significantly improved physical state I am in now.  In case you need reminding, you are incredibly good at your job and I am so grateful and happy that our paths crossed, albeit for a second time!

This is an excerpt from a lovely client of mine – Emily Davidson.

Emily is an avid sailor and came to me a year or so ago after having had intensive physio for a back issue.  She had had a herniated disc in her late teens and has had a partial discectomy, way back then.  A year ago this was bothering her again, and led her to further scans and pain management etc, and a fear that she would not be able to achieve the family goal of sailing off into the sunset on their yacht was causing concern.  Anyway the decision was not to operate, but to learn to manage this – her journey started with some physio and then we looked at her posture and the way she moved in life and around the yacht, which led to a year of hard work.  The journey was probably helped by the knowledge that I have of sailing and the conditions that she is likely to encounter out there, a huge part of many peoples journey is regaining the “belief that they can do it”.

So here we are she has reached her goal and has now set sail for an amazing adventure with her husband Tom and two kids aged 7 and 5.

Changing sport at the top level …

How is it that top level athletes can change their sport and still be successful?  Is sport about skill or is it attitude?

To be successful at a sport one has to have an aptitude to the sport and a plan of how to get there …. training regimes, mentors/coaches, mental strength, understanding of the hours to put in.  Once the athlete has chosen a plan it is then about commitment – and probably commitment to listening, taking advice and going with it – immersing.

What probably stops many people from achieving big goals is possibly the fear of failure and so a lack of commitment to the “plan”.  If one doubts the plan – one will search around for better options/ideas/other methods/fall backs and in doing this one does not ever fully commit to the original plan and wastes a lot of time.

Look at Victoria Pendleton’s journey:

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For a start a similar action or stance is needed in the sport of road bike racing and horse racing – ability to cope and think at speed – ability to concentrate and be single minded and commit to the race.  But then it comes to coaching and listening.
This lady had not ridden a horse of note before 12 months ago.

So how much of success is in fact diving in head first and getting the mind set right.Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 21.13.14

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Press here for her story

Common Colds and Flu

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So the common cold has been dealt with in various ways – but are we in fact prolonging the illness by taking many of these medications and would we do better to simply adhere to a more natural approach?

See the guide below – the reality is sleep is the most important – but that involves taking a day off!

General Measures for coping with acute illness or infection

Gait Analysis Testing

Gait Analysis Testing

Emma has just finished assessing motion – she has added to her Biomechanics Coaching screening with “Gait AnaScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 14.29.43lysis” testing .  Now we can be more thorough in testing the body both statically and in movement, and so get a bigger picture of the route causes of problems.

Testing is about looking at issues from all angles – ruling out possible causes to coming up with a plan of attack for either resolving discomfort or releasing the individual potential for top level performance.  It is about searching for perfection – finding the most perfect way a person can move or function within the limitations of their body, their lifestyle, their creation and their ambition.

Intrinsic Biomechanics Screening looks at the function of the joints and the ability of the body to produce life and sport actions from a static perspective – what the ability is.

Gait Analysis specialises in the lower body and looks at the flow of the body in movement.  If there is a lock up in any part of the chain then motion will not be as fluid as it could be.

The obvious place to look is at the feet – and all too often we use cushioning to alter this.  That is fine as a short term solution when there is an injury but it is not a long term fix.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 14.30.20The question is – why does the foot not land straight? – not that – it is not landing straight so lets chock it up.  We can see it is not straight.

But is it coming from the bottom of the leg or is it coming from the top of the leg?  If the hip is not sitting in neutral are the strings (muscles) down the leg not out of kilter and in the wrong tension so therefore will pull the knee and foot out of alignment?

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We still see person after person with issues.  That are left until there is a major problem such as a knee injury or lower back pain.  Not enough emphasis is put on correct posture and straightness in our children at school.  This is where wear and tear begins.