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Why do Pilates?

Gave a presentation today at Barton Field Farm Equestrian about the importance of active stretches in the saddle and out of the saddle for you and your horse.
Part of the talk covered the following:
Why do Pilates?
Pilates heightens concentration of the mind, control & range of movement, actively improves proprioception, influencing balance & awareness.
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
Lower back pain
Forward head carriage
Stiffness in neck & upper body
Tension in shoulders & elbows
Tight hamstrings
Tight hips & buttocks
Crooked seat
Odd stirrups/leg length
Excessive arm & leg movement
All of these causes can be addressed, engaged & strengthened:
What are the benefits of EqCorePilates? Being Fit2Ride
A strong core is a happy core; having stability gives you the ability to be more mobile and flexible. A strong core helps maintain balance; our inner ear is affected as we age. To be able to continue to do the things you enjoy for longer due to core strength & balance. Being Fit, having a strong core, will keep you in the saddle for longer, & less likely to fall off
September we will be running a 6 week course.

We will cover some anatomy basics:

Muscles – stabilise to mobilise

Stabilisers are deep, small and thin – for endurance and longer stamina

Mobilisers are near the surface, hamsrings, biceps femoris, biceps brachii, biceps - these tire easily


After injury or poor posture stabilisers become weak and mobilisers take over causing a muscle imbalance


Transversus abdominus – connects front of the body to the back we need to recruit this when riding by switching it on about 30% = neutral pelvis

Pull belly button towards spine (100%) – relax half way and a little bit more = 30% this is what you need to feel when you ride


Pelvic floor links with multifidus muscle; engaging pelvic floor  innervates the multifidus (length of spine)

Imagine/go for a wee & then stop; this is your pelvic floor


Sitting on a Gymball/large Pilates ball works the multifidus without you even noticing these muscles are working - sit on one whilst eating dinner, watching TV or in your garden.


If your horse drops out on left shoulder or out of a circle, the rider will invariably be weak through the left obliques and tight in the lower back or quadratus lumborum muscles on the right hand side.

When this happens just take your elbow into your side/waist (the side the horse is falling out on) will engage your latissimus dorsi muscles (your large angel wings!) & obliques; MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO PERFORMANCE


Latissimus dorsi = acts as stabiliser too - to activate, squeeze the shoulders back and elbows down.

Do this after driving car too.

Hip flexors – big link between these & the diaphragm. We use the diaphragm when we breath. There are fibres in your hip flexors attached to your diaphragm, so if you hold your breath when riding, you raise your buttocks off the horse and lose contact with your seat, therefore you lose contact with your horse.

Buttocks: Glutes medius, maximus, minimus control & rotate hip in saddle, & are a strong influence in leg stability

Good exercise for these is called the clam; we will cover this in class and during the course running from September 2017

Piriformis, this connects hip to femur (head of the leg bone), the sciatic nerve passes through this muscle, if in spasm it will squeeze sciatic nerve & you will present with sciatica symptoms


Stronger core & better alignment, better at staying on horse and in saddle




It takes 3 weeks to re educate muscle memory that have developed from bad habits. Pilates works on recruiting the muscles in the correct sequence, from the deep inside muscles to the more superficial ones.

Your body can bounce back in about 6 weeks, your mind can take a little longer!


Many people today suffer with forward head carriage and a tight Thoracic area, as there are many desk jobs, working on computers or laptops, driving, sitting for long periods of time. The body wasn't designed to sit and be sedentary.


We will work on these areas in Pilates class



Takes time to strengthen your muscles – you’ll be thankful when your horse mucks around, your core will lock in and hold you in place. You won't be going anywhere but staying in the saddle :-)

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