Surprising benefits from fitness program targeted for riding.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, October 15, 2009 09:07 PM
I would like to talk about how new approach to riding helped me become more in shape, loose weight, tighten my abdominal muscles and as a consequence made me look better and feel better about myself. The funny thing is I didn't expect that. It was a bonus to my improved riding ability. This time I want to talk about what extra benefits besides riding I got from my workouts.
There are four main areas I was working on to improve my riding that made a difference to my overall appearance, fitness and health.
  • Strengthening my core muscles including deep Transversus Abdominis and Oblique muscles. Strengthening my diaphragm muscle as an important component for abdominals to work correctly. This work not only improved my overall posture, it flattened my stomach shrinking the size of the jeans I wear. It improved my spine function because of great support my core muscles now provide for my spine. Plus with strong core and breathing with diaphragm muscle I cannot eat a lot. My portions are small and at the parties people are surprised how little I eat. I'm not putting a show for them. I literally cannot eat a lot because I start to feel very uncomfortable. This helps to keep my weight under control.
  • Stretching my hip joints - I thought I needed it for riding only. To my surprise flexibility in my hips improved the way I walk. Plus when we started remodeling our house I was delighted to see how easy I can climb on the roof, from one ladder to another, through the window opening, etc. I could reach to places no one in my family could. Sometimes I did all this climbing just for fun out of sheer joy for my new abilities.
  • Strengthening my thigh muscles - After realization how important ALL the thigh muscles are for riding I started a series of exercises to strengthen them all. They include Yoga, Pilates, physioball and of course riding itself. The interesting development with thigh muscles is the stronger and more efficient they became they got more and more involved during riding. Now they stay engaged even if I do not think about it. During regular life activities I started noticing the difference. For example, I do not mind squatting down to pick up things rather then bending from the hips. All this work made my thighs not just stronger but more definite and lean which improved appearance of my legs.
  • Strengthening my shoulder girdle - This mostly concerns muscles around the shoulder blades, especially, those that depress and push them away from each other. Two of my favorite exercises for this is Yoga's cobra and smoothly moving between upward facing dog and downward facing dog. Plus physioball is excellent tool to strengthen your shoulder girdle. Well, esthetic benefits are my shoulder blades moved down and back which improved my posture. Before very often I had my neck muscles tight and painful, mostly upper trapezius. Lately I have realized I do not have that tightness anymore. I guess strengthening muscles that are antagonists to upper trapezius relaxed and stretched them. This probably is the reason I do not get big migraines anymore. I used to have them almost every month.
I encourage women and girls to take a serious look at fitness for riding. If you think that fitness has nothing to do with good riding ability this is a big misconception. Effective riding requires a strong, flexible and balanced body. You will reap great benefits from starting a regular fitness program to improve your riding skills which will include looking better and feeling better about yourself. Personally I like Yoga and Pilates for riding plus you need some aerobic activity to strengthen your cardiovascular system such as walking, running, rowing, etc. Check out my website for exercises to target particular muscles groups. Click here.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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