Understanding Your Core

We use a lot of muscles when we’re riding. Some of them are quite subtle, and others have a much bigger role to play in keeping our balance and posture.
I thought that in this weeks blog I would share with you what I think are the 8 key muscles that effect our posture and balance when we ride.
Firstly, it’s important that you know what your core is. It is much more that just your six pack! Your core is your entire central unit….front, back and sides, meaning that your core effects the stabilisation of your spine, ribcage, pelvis and upper body.
Your pelvis has a crucial role in riding, and if it is unstable it can also create an unstable ribcage and shoulder girdle. Imagine the affects of all this instability on your riding and your horse.
I agree that it can often be hard to determine whether it’s the horse or the rider with the issues…nine times out of ten both have issues! But as a rider it makes sense that you should do your best to deal with your own instability issues in order to help your horse with his.
Transverse Abdominus 
So this muscle is best described as your corset. It’s like a brace that wraps around your middle protecting your spine. It helps to stabilise between your hips, your ribs and your pelvis, and is the muscle that you feel whe you cough or that you would brace if i were to poke you in the stomach.
These muscles are on our sides. They are what we use for turning, and they are vitally important for keeping us sat upright and even. Sometimes we may collapse through one side, resulting in us sitting unevenly and weight distribution being off centre.
It’s main role is the management of the pelvis and controlling the front to back motion.
The Psoas is attached at the last  thoracic vertebra and travels down the lumbar vertebrae and discs, and finishes at the top of the femur. It also has a role in flexing your hip and flexing your spine sideways. The Psoas also has the ability to absorb the movement of the horse.
The Illiacus is similar to the Psoas…it has the ability to absorb the movement of the horse. It starts at the inside of the hip bone and joins the Psoas. The two can often be refered to as the hip flexors, although both do have slightly different roles.
The Piriformis is v
ery influential in the function of the pelvis and your balance on the horse. It attaches at the front of the sacrum and to the top of your femur, and working along side your Psoas, helps to rotate and extend your hips, as well as internally rotate and flex. And because both sides can work independantly of each other, you may find that one thigh adducts (moves inwards) easier than the other.
Gluteus Maximus 
This muscle is a large powerful hip extensor, which along side the Psoas, helps to control the front to back balance of the hips.When tight it can inhibit the horses balance, but when weak can affect the riders balance, and affect the activation of the thighs.
Gluteus Medius
This muscle is crucial for helping the rider stay balanced in the saddle, and rotates the hip inwards and abducts the hip outwards.
Quadratus Lumborum 
This muscle is a lateral flexor. It attaches at your bottom rib and to your lumbar vertebrae, as well as to the back of your pelvis. Being a lateral flexor it has the control of whether you tip or rock to one side in the saddle, and has a major influence on how you stand, move and ride.
This is just a small selection of the muscles that comprise your core, but hopefully by being more aware of them and understanding what they do, you will become more aware of the areas that you need to work on in order to ride at your best.
Tiff x

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