Noble Life

Pre-Riding Stretches


Yoga, an ancient Indian practice, focuses on techniques of connecting mind with body while allowing one to improve flexibility, increase spinal decompression, strengthen and tone long lean muscle mass and encourage recovery from other exercise forms. When practiced regularly, these techniques can exponentially improve rider mobility, functionality and fluidity. Connecting the movements shown below with proper breathing patterns can allow for more sound and peaceful thought which is essential for connecting a rider with his/her horse. The benefits of yoga are indefinite. Before your next day at the barn, give the following poses a try: Cat- Cow Stretch PreRidingStretches_image1

Begin with the basics: Cat- Cow is an excellent stretch to warm up the lower abdominal muscles as well as decompress the spine; 2 injury preventing essentials.
  1. Begin in table top position with palms and knees pressed into the floor and toes tucked under your feet.
  2. Activate your deepest abdominals by drawing your navel into your spine and begin lowering your belly to the floor as your back arches- eyes gazing towards the ceiling.
  3. To alternate, release the tops of your feet to the floor and reach the center of your spine towards the ceiling. Your head will drop as your gaze shifts towards your navel.
  4. Continue alternating these movements as inhale and gaze forward; exhale as you shift your spine to the ceiling.

Lunge Pose PreRidingStretches_image2

  1. Starting in an upward V shape with palms and feet both pressing into the floor, bring your left foot to the front of your mat, to the inside left of your left palm.
  2. Bend your left knee, bringing your left leg to a 90 degree angle from the floor. From here, lunge into the front leg, pressing up through the ball of your right foot.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Extended Side Angle

This pose is great for opening the chest and shoulders, strengthening leg muscles and stretching the hips and hamstrings.
  1. Begin in Lunge pose (above).
  2. Drop your left foot to the floor, angled towards the center of your mat at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Bring your right hand to the inside of your right leg as you lift your left arm towards the ceiling.
  4. Turn your gaze towards the ceiling with your left arm and hold.
  5. Repeat stretch on the opposite side.

Plow Pose PreRidingStretches_image3

Elevating the legs, overhead, helps improve blood circulation, therefore reducing leg cramps as well as stress and fatigue from riding.
  1. Lying on the ground, with legs extended, place a small pillow or folded towel under your neck to prevent injury.
  2. Using your core, lift legs up and overhead, bringing your toes to the floor behind you
  3. With straight arms, interlace fingers behind your back and roll your shoulders bringing them closer onto the mat.
  4. Keeping legs straight and feet together, slowly roll out of the pose, one vertebra at a time.

Before gearing up for your next ride take 15-20 minutes for the above yoga stretches to allow your muscles to feel refreshed and rejuvenated! Sources: Paceful Dumpling – 4 Yoga Stretches for Long, Lean, Dancer Legs Plow Pose Wikipedia – Yoga Bing – Cow Pose

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The Author:

Kelcie Reightler is a Registered Dietitian currently working as a Dietitian, Nutrition Team Lead and Pilates instructor for Life Time Fitness. She completed her Bachelors of Science at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2011; majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. Kelcie went on to complete her Masters in Human Sciences as well as a Dietetic Internship through Texas A&M- Kingville. She began her certification to become a Pilates instructor 6 short months after getting hired at Life Time Fitness and fell in love with this restorative, recovery based exercise, that heals, strengthens and rejuvenates. Today, She is fortunate to have the opportunity to inspire action through the same integrative approach; to educate and heal through the power of food and movement. To create the connection between tangible and intangible, heart, soul and body, while providing the body with what it needs to live a life of longevity, vitality and livelihood.

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