Tight Hip Flexors

The root cause of many people’s lower back pain and other health problems could be down to tight hip flexors.

lower back pain

The impact the hips have on the whole body was never totally clear to me until I trained as a biomechanist and started to understand the relationship between the hips and the body.

Tight or locked hip flexors can be caused from an instability or a rigidity in the pelvis and a lack of ability or understanding to hold it in a neutral position.  This can contribute to the following problems:

  • Joint pain in legs, lower back and hips
  • discomfort when walking
  • Discomfort in knees from a lack of movement in hips which then causes body to spin and compensate to balance from knees
  • Bad posture and inability to stand tall
  • Aching when sleeping and lying down
  • Lack of energy in day to day life
  • Lack of strength and explosiveness in sport
  • Anxiety from discomfort

Do you find it surprising that all of this might be simply caused by this one tight muscle?

Many people suffer from tight or locked hip flexors, especially those who sit for hours each day, but few realize the impact on your whole body.  Sitting for hours on end in simply in the same seat, and especially if not keeping the pelvis vertical, causes a strain on the hip area and lower back.  There is excessive weight in one position which pulls on the muscles and ligaments and creates a pressure on the cartilage in a particular angle.  Lack of movement brings along a restricted circulation – or a transfer of fresh nutrients to and removal of toxins from the area, which also causes a lack of lubrication so when one does get up to move there is a feeling of stiffness, which in turn can therefore be abrasive and cause wear and tear.

We are designed to move.  And to highlight – everything moving up and down the body flows through the hips.  They help to support the strength and health of your entire body.

HIP FLEXORS ARE THE BODY’S MOST POWERFUL, PRIMAL MUSCLE… … they need training and stretching

For more information please contact me on emma@biosphericperformance.com

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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/

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.

 

 

“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.

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.

How are you going to get your horse fit?

How are you going to get your horse fit?

I was asked this question when I bought a new horse in July 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 write a training diary and regime and use the heart rate as a gauge as to how fit the animal was.

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.  Food sources are different obviously.  But we can learn a lot about ourselves form our furry neighbours – we find similar things too much as well – sugar, starch and fats … should be in limited supply.  Protein – the big question is always how much because we have to get rid of what we don’t need which is where it taxes the system.

So on the exercise – how do I know how puffed he is – the perceived rate of exertion with humans is about talking to the client and seeing how fatigued they are.  I can look at his demeanour or see 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.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 16.48.11 So I spoke to a contact at “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.  I have yet to try that, but have definitely learnt the merits from using this equipment so far and can now make my training more meaningful and more specific.

For more info google “Equine Heart Rate monitors”, for use and how to etc.

Horse and Hounds Article on Posture and how it can help you and your horse….

“Strengthening from the core … a study has shown that an unmounted rider core fitness program can improve rider symmetry and equine welfare.”Horse and Hound copy

Finally a proper study shows the importance of posture and rider core fitness work on the ground is important to improve riding posture and the posture and wellbeing of the horse.  Something I have bee saying for months.  How sitting up straight is going to help your horses performance and ability to carry himself proper.  Read more in the “Horse and Hounds” magazine, page 8, 29th Oct 2015.

Such a relief to feel the world wake up!!

Watch this space – classes soon to start …