How much attention do you pay to your hips? And no, I don’t mean when you are shaking them down at the local to Shakira. Your hips play a very important role when you are riding, particularly in dressage and the sitting trot.
Your hip flexors are the group of muscles at the top of your thigh and they connect your upper leg to your hip. Hip flexors can become particularly tight and can really hinder your mobility, making it very difficult for you as a rider to keep an independent seat and therefore, making it difficult to ride the trot whilst remaining light throughout your body.
The importance of a relaxed seat when you are riding means that you aren’t tightening up on top of your horse and therefore, you aren’t making them tense up underneath you. To allow your hips to move freely with the horse, rather than braced against them, you need to ensure that your hip flexors are nice and open, not tight.
Nobody seems to be able to pinpoint what it is that causes the tightness in the hips exactly, there are many theories out there, but it is difficult to actually say what the cause of tight hip flexors are.
One of the theories is that the more sitting down you do, the tighter your hip flexors will be and in turn, this shortens the muscles in the hip, forcing them to contract and tense. In contradiction, another theory is that overuse of the hips and over working them is what makes them tight.
Either way, let’s face it, us riders are constantly sat down on our horses whilst using them, so basically, we need to pay a lot of attention to them.
There are a number of stretches that can definitely benefit you as a rider and help you to open up them hip joints, keeping them free and relaxed when you are on board. Below are some of the stretches which you can do. Doing them every day will definitely make your hips more flexible and will help to improve your riding.
Trigger point massage balls are also a very useful tool to have when you have tight hip flexors. If you lay on the floor face down and place the ball right in the groove of your hip, you can then roll the ball between your hip and the floor. This will really loosen off your hips and massage out the muscles.
One way that you can reduce the chances of your flexor muscles getting tight is by ensuring that your core muscles are strong, the pelvic tilt exercises that we spoke about in last month’s article is worth thinking about to help tighten up your core.
Combine last month’s pelvic tilt, with this month’s hip flexor exercises and your riding (particularly your seat) is bound to improve; as your body gets stronger, without your muscles getting tighter.