5 Stretches for the Equestrian (Pre-and-Post Ride)
Are you feeling stiff after your horseback riding lesson?
Horseback riding is an active sport. Like any sport, the more physically fit you are, the better you can ride. Adding pre- and post-ride stretching to your routine will help prepare your muscles for a ride and reduce the risk of horseback riding-related injuries. Long, limber muscles prevent injuries like pulled muscles and aches. It is common for horseback riders to develop hip, hamstring, chest, and shoulder stiffness because of their position in the saddle.
This technique stretches your pectoral muscles and the front of your shoulder. Find a door frame or vertical pillar, raise your arm and create a 90-degree angle at your elbow. Gently press your raised forearm against the wall. Think “shoulders back” as you lean forward slightly to increase the stretch. Turn your head and look away from the wall to stretch your neck simultaneously.
Overhead Shoulder Stretch
For this technique, you can stretch in the same doorway (if you are tall enough!) or use a wooden fence. Place your fingertips at the top of the doorframe for the doorway variation and lean forward. For the fence variation, stand a foot away from the fence and place your palms flat on the top of the rail. Bending at the waist, allow your head to drop between your raised arms and keep your back flat. Don’t drop or hunch your shoulders. Relax and breathe into the stretch.
Standing Crossed-Leg Stretch
Your hamstrings and calves get very tight from the heels-down riding position. While standing, cross one leg in front of the other. Then, bending at the waist, reach towards the ground. Complete this stretch for both legs. This will stretch your hamstrings, calves, and lower back. You can easily do this stretch while standing at the barn, in a store, or while waiting for dinner to cook.
This classic yoga pose has tons of benefits for horseback riders. From all fours, shift your hips back towards your heels, stretching your arms in front of you. Breathe deeply and relax downward. This stretches your back, sides, and shoulders. Over time, it can help reduce lower back pain. If your upper back and shoulders feel very stiff, you can move your clasped hands behind your head instead of in front of you.
This yoga stretch can be done seated or in a tabletop position. Start with a flat back. As you inhale, arch your back, drop your stomach toward the floor, and lift your face and tailbone toward the ceiling. As you exhale, reverse your position. Round your back, drop your tailbone and your head. Continue in this pattern for a few rounds, following the cadence of your breathing. This stretch increases flexibility in the abdominals and the lower and mid-back.
Stretching must be part of a long-term routine to see results. An occasional stretch every once in a while will feel good but won’t have the same results as consistent stretching. Add these stretches into your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed at the results in as little as a month.