Benefits of Stretching For You and Your Horse
Ahead Of The Game
So if I told you that stretching your horse every day would mean that he/she will feel fantastic, reduce the risk of injury and fatigue, improve recovery, improve strength and potentially achieve greater results (not to mention the positive effect it has on the mind…) I am sure you would do it..! BUT what about you…?!
We focus so much on our horse, which is great however YOU are just as important!
Yoga is a worldwide phenomenon that has become an accepted and almost addictive part of daily life.
Below I have outlined the physiological benefits of taking some time to add stretching into your routine as World cup winning show jumper Jamie Whinning does.
After all anyone, no matter what the level of competition, is an athlete who needs to take care of themselves which will ultimately improve your riding!!!
So please read below and I hope this encourages you to try
How Stretching Will Help You
- Improves the range of motion in your joints and reduce muscle tension– This provides better balance, which will help keep you mobile and less susceptible to falls.
- Improves circulation – Stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles, thus improving your circulation enabling you to ride for longer before fatigue and injury occur.
- Improves posture and technique– Stretching prevents muscles and joints from seizing up and improves elasticity, allowing better posture and technique.
- Increased power and elasticity of our muscles,
- Increased endurance and metabolism
- Assist in achieving better coordination, muscle control and assist in riding positions.
- Relieve Stress Stretching relaxes tense muscles that often accompany stress. Stretching also minimises the stress that can tighten muscles (such as before a competition). This helps relax the mind as well.
- Improves the neurological system- When you stretch the brain, in turn, regulates automatic functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. It secretes hormones, which act as chemical messengers to help insulin control, metabolism, mood and emotion. So the next time you’re in a bad mood, some simple stretches may give you the lift you need.
Once you have finished your stretches, notice how you feel afterwards and practice similar ones on your horse as well! He will thank you for you it!
6 KEY STRETCHES RECOMMENDED BY JAMIE WHINNING
1. Hamstring Stretch
This basic stretch is perfect for targeting both legs at the same time or you can do one leg at a time, and is great for those with really tight hamstrings.
- Lie on your back and place a towel around the sole of both feet.
- Try and straighten your legs whilst your hips are at 90 degrees. If you need to bend your knees then do so. You should feel a good stretch however this should not be painful.
- In this position you can also flex and extend your ankles repeatedly which will help ease the tension and improve circulation.
2. Quadriceps stretch
This basic quad stretch can be done anytime, anywhere:
- Either in standing or kneeling grab your right foot with your right hand and pull toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and don’t worry about how close your foot is to your butt. Keep your focus on getting a good stretch in your quad. If you are doing this correctly you will feel it straight away!
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then stretch the other leg.
3. Calf Stretch
This stretch is a great one for you as you spend so much time with your knees flexed in a stirrup!
- As demonstrated find a step or something similar and place your toe on it.
- Then maintaining correct posture press your weight through the toe of tat leg and you will feel a great stretch up the back of your leg below your knee.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, and switch legs.
4. Cat Stretch
This is a great stretch for riders. This places the back in the exact opposite position as when you are riding so will help maintain joint range of motion in this area.
Get set on your hands and knees and remain looking at the ground. Slowly sit down onto your heels whilst keeping your hands placed on the mat. This should be done slowly and you can hold for a minimum of 30secs up to 2 mins. Repeat 2-3 times.
5. Gluteal Stretch
With one leg straight grab the knee of the opposite leg and bring towards your chest. You should feel the stretch in the buttock region and for people who ride often you will feel this stretch immediately.
Hold on this side for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and repeat this stretch on the other side.
6. Neck Stretch
This gentle stretch targets the sides of your neck.
- Place your left hand on the top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the left. Apply gentle pressure with your hand to increase the stretch.
- Hold on this side for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and repeat this stretch on the other side.