Equine Conditions - "Kissing Spines"

Kissing Spines, otherwise known as Overriding Dorsal Spinous Processes, is a common condition causing back pain in the horse. We discuss what the condition is, some of the common symptoms and how physiotherapy can be a very effective form of treatment.

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Foam Roller Stability Exercises for Riding

The foam roller is often thought of as a piece of equipment only used for rolling and releasing tight muscles and soft tissue. While it's fantastic for this purpose (albeit painful for those who are particularly tight!), the foam roller is also a really great tool for stability and balance training.

Balancing on the foam roller, whether in lying, kneeling or standing, really challenges your core and gets the deep stabilising muscles firing.

Here are 2 great exercises that we find really challenge the stability muscles needed for riding in all disciplines. 

FOAM ROLLER SUPINE LEG LIFTS

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  • Lie on your back lengthways along the roller, with your head and buttocks both supported on the roller. Bring your feet as close together as you can.
  • Lift your arms up from the floor and place them across your chest. You'll feel yourself wobble and sway, aim to keep the roller as still as possible.
  • For some people this will be enough of a challenge. For those who have better stability and control attempt to lift one leg up from the floor at a time.
  • The aim for this exercise is to keep your balance without gripping and tensing through your legs. Keep your weight evenly through both legs and don't grip them together. Focus on activating your deep abdominals to provide you with stability and control. We want to get these muscles firing, not your hip flexors or inner thigh muscles. To do this imagine there is a piece of string starting in your pelvic region and extending up into your abdomen. Focus on pulling the string upwards with your deep abdominal muscles. The contraction shouldn't be a forceful brace or 'sucking in' action, just a light activation.
  • Some people will find it harder to lift one leg than the other. This can be due to decreased stability through the leg that is still on the ground. If you do notice this, try the following -
    • If it feels harder to lift your left leg, take both of your legs over to the right. Try lifting just the left leg. If it feels easier in this position, continue the exercise in this position, lifting just the left leg. If the right leg feels harder to lift, take both legs over to the left and repeat as above. Re-assess in the centre once you've completed your set. You may find that you now feel more even in both legs.
    • It may be that you'll need to practice in this manner for some time, until you build up better activation of the pelvic stabilising muscles on your weaker side. Once you are more developed on that side you should hopefully find that you can lift both legs equally well.

FOAM ROLLER SQUATS

  • Stand on the foam roller with both feet, aiming to keep your weight back slightly into your heels. Bring your arms out in front of you.
  • For some just balancing will be enough of a challenge!
  • If you have the stability and control, come down into a squat position while maintaining your balance. Ensure you keep your back straight, with your chest lifted, shoulders down and heels lowered. Keep your knees tracking out over your 4th toe, don't let them collapse inwards.

NB: Both of these exercises can be performed in bare feet, in fact you may find it easier without shoes on when standing on the roller!