Imbalances develop over time, based on physiology, posture and lifestyle. How you move when not riding – other types of exercise, the amount (and quality) of sitting you do at work, etc. – directly affects how you function on a horse. Resulting asymmetries greatly affect movement and alignment, resulting in impediments like:
Pilates exercises increase your body awareness, and improve flexibility, balance, and strength in order to facilitate an optimal riding experience. Pilates helps equestrians:
With a strong core and increased flexibility, riders can:
Circles: With pelvis stable and inner thighs together, move legs down, open legs out to sides and circle them around to starting position. Do 6 to 10 circles in each direction.
Frogs: With the pelvis stable, the legs turned out, the knees bent and the feet together, raise and lower the legs.
Hamstring: Place one ankle in strap and opposite leg on footbar. Straighten leg in strap to stretch hamstring. Straighten leg on footbar to decrease stretch.
Adductor: Place both arches in straps and open legs to stretch adductors.
Hamstring and Psoas: Place one ankle in strap and straighten leg to stretch hamstring.
For low back and sacroiliac joint problems: Make sure low back is not changing positions as legs move. Support low back in a neutral position with a towel. Limit range of motion as legs lower. Avoid if symptoms increase.
For hip flexor injuries and arthritis: Work only in a range of motion that does not increase symptoms. Work with knees rather than feet in straps to decrease load on hips, or avoid if symptoms increase.
For limited hamstring flexibility: In order to avoid stress on low back, hamstring flexibility needs to be great enough to allow back to stay stable as legs move to approximately 65 degrees of hip flexion.