We made it through the summer! Woohoo…now we’re in the ‘homestretch’ of 2018 and even though we’re nearing the end of the year, it’s never too late to adopt healthy habits.
One of the simplest healthy habits is stretching. And, one of the best ways to stretch is to add 'dynamic stetching' to your pre-ride routine. This type of stretching is great to do before you get on your horse because it creates increased blood flow and deliberately lengthens your muscles to increase flexibility and range of motion. Incorporating regular stretching into your routine can warm your body up pre-ride, reduce your risk of injury, improve your posture and even help you cultivate a more positive outlook.
Our guest blogger Haley Gassel once again offers a very practical blog for riders. This one is all about simple stretches to do at the barn that really make a difference!
Stretches to Do at the Barn
Stretching and exercising are vital to our sport. But why stretching? It keeps our muscles healthy, flexible and strong, plus they are what provide our range of motion to move and function!
I (cookie) stretch every single horse before they get ridden, whether it’s a light hack or going in for competition. I think it helps with my horses' flexibility, adds strength as well as improves their rideability. I’m going to provide some of my favorite stretches that I do before and after riding!
I. QUAD: Using so much leg strength and power, it’s important to keep one of our largest muscle groups in our body functioning properly! For me, I know if I have an intense flat session with my horses, my quads will feel the burn! To properly perform this stretch, grab your ankle and gently pull your leg towards your glutes, leaning back to get a deeper stretch. Only stretch as far as you feel comfortable. Do this hold onto a railing or sturdy object, if needed.
II. INNER QUAD: (Adductor muscle) This is another part of the quad muscle that can be sore or tight after a hard ride. To help soothe this area, I like to spread my feet on the ground just past hip width. Then, I like to lean into each leg, like the motion of side lunge and hold, switching sides back and forth without over doing it.
III. HAMSTRING: A very simple but satisfying move. Stand with feet together and lean down to touch your toes. You can also feel this in your glutes. This can also be done with feet apart and touching the ground.
IV. CALF: This doesn’t happen often, but on occasion I can over work my calves and can feel the fatigue. This stretch is unique, and might even help you keep your heels down if you struggle with that! Leaning against a steep surface or object, put your foot against it with your toes, lean into the stretch—I promise you will feel it!
V. CHEST: I have to admit, I LOVE this stretch, and between you and me, surprisingly the chest muscle group is my least favorite area to work out. When I do this move, it also helps me stretch my shoulders and even biceps if done deeply enough. To do this stretch, place your forearm against a flat surface, move forward slowly and lean into it so your arm is straight out and slightly behind you. Once again, never force anything and only stretch as far as comfortable.
All of these stretches can be performed at the barn, hotel, home, wherever. Hopefully they are helpful and will motivate you to add them into your routine!