Achieve a more balanced and symmetrical position with these tips

Achieve a more balanced and symmetrical position with these tips

Why is it important to be balanced and symmetrical?

Horse riding requires both physical and mental coordination, especially as you train up through the levels. As most riders know, their position plays a crucial role in communicating with their horse, as well as in maintaining balance and control. Unfortunately, many riders have some level of asymmetry in their position, which not only affects performance, but in severe cases can even cause pain and discomfort. In this article, we'll share some tips on how riders can work towards a more symmetrical and balanced position.

Gain awareness

The first step in achieving a symmetrical and balanced position is to become aware of any asymmetries that you may have. Common areas of asymmetry include the pelvis, shoulders, and head. One way to check for asymmetries is to stand in front of a mirror and take a few deep breaths. As you exhale, pay attention to any areas of your body that tend to move out of alignment. Another way to check for asymmetries is to have a friend or coach observe you while you ride. Our RideStraight shirts really highlight asymmetries and can help you or your coach to spot even quite subtle shifts from a centered position.

Get to work!

Once you are aware of any asymmetries, you can begin to work on correcting them. A great place to start is to practice exercises that help to build symmetry in the body and target the core muscles. A core circuit that includes planks, bird-dogs, cross-crunches and swiss ball roll outs is very effective. Start with a comfortable intensity and, once you are at ease with the movements, work your way up in volume (ie. repetition x sets) until it feels more challenging.

You should also do exercises that target specific areas of asymmetry, which includes both stretching tight areas and strengthening weak areas. Riders who work in office jobs often have tight hip flexors from sitting down all day, as well as tightness through the shoulders and neck. However, while stretching feels good and can't be overlooked, it is equally important to strengthen weak areas by doing specific exercises that target those muscles. There are now many great rider fitness programs available online that provide guidance for exercises specifically for horse riders. 

Develop your body awareness

Another approach to building symmetry is to practice exercises that help to develop body awareness. These exercises can include yoga, pilates, and other forms of bodywork. They can also include riding exercises that focus on the rider's position, such as riding on the lunge, or riding without stirrups or in two-point position.

Get help!

Of course, nothing can replace having regular lessons with a trainer that can teach you how to align your body and use it correctly in the saddle. There are more and more trainers who combine biomechanics knowledge (whether through formal physiotherapist training, or because of a background in other sports, yoga or pilates) with technical riding experience. Their feedback can be invaluable, and they should be able to provide on and off-horse exercises specific to your needs.

In addition to exercises and training, it is also important to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your asymmetries. For example, if you have a chronic pain condition, such as back pain, it is important to work with a healthcare professional to address this issue.

Stick to it

Achieving a highly symmetrical and balanced position doesn't come overnight, and will require consistent, attentive practice. However, it is a necessary part of being a good rider - one that is easy for the horse to carry, and who can give clear, consistent aids.

Happy riding!

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