It’s been nearly 18 months since we covered this topic (on my facebook page. Since these posts never made it to this website I’m going to review the hip flexors again, since they’re such an integral part to getting your riding position working for you and your horse, rather than against you.
Do you find you often feel crooked on your horse? Is your instructor always shouting at you to stop tipping forwards or poking your backside out? Does your horse often land on the incorrect lead or not land straight over a fence? Is one stirrup being stretched or always feel shorter? Do you often feel like you’re always tipping forwards and can’t get your leg down and around the horse to give effective aids?
(Diagram source uncertain – if anyone knows where it came from do please let me know so credit can be given where it’s due!)
One big question I’m sure you’re all wondering – Why is it that so many people have tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt?
Surely if it’s not a biomechanically sound way to operate, it wouldn’t be the ‘go to’ posture so many people find themselves in, would it?
Lets think about what things we all might do on a day to day basis that promote short, tight hip flexors.
- Get up from your bed and sit down to eat breakfast.
- Get straight in the car and sit for whatever period of time it takes to get to work.
- Spend a decent part of your day, you guessed it, sitting. Often with your legs crossed. If you’re lucky you have a job where you get to move around a lot, but even then, because our eyes are on the front of our head and our arms reach forwards there is a strong chance you do most things in your day reaching or slightly leaning forwards.
- At the end of the day, you get back in your car, head to the yard.
- Jump on board your favourite four legged beast having spent not a moment thinking about warming up or stretching out your own body.
- Fight with your body and if you’re lucky, have someone on the ground shout at you to Sit up! Sit up! Stop tipping forwards! Drop your right knee! Stop leaning to the right, for goodness sake!
- Head home and perhaps spend a bit of time on the sofa in something approaching the foetal position, mulling over why on earth you just can’t get it together on the horse, before heading off to bed to properly assume the foetal position.
All in all, it’s a solid day of flexed hips.
Now, when you stand yourself up in between these periods of sitting and bending, your hip flexors start to complain as they’ve become quite accustomed to being shortened. So rather than happily lengthen out, they stay relatively short and instead pull your pelvis forward into a nice anterior tilt with an exaggerated lumbar lordosis. This in turn promotes short, tight lower back muscles and weak abdominal core muscles which makes your body even more likely to switch on those hip flexors to help stabilise the pelvis and lower back during unstable activities – like riding your horse 😉
So, what did you do today that would have shortened up the ol’ hip flexors?? I clipped the dog, then could barely stand upright again!
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will look at the anatomy involved in a bit more detail and begin to consider what it is doing to you and your horse in daily work.