Impact of equestrian sports on the health of riders horse pilot

Vincent Rogine is a physiotherapist according to the Mezieres method: a branch of the profession that specializes in the muscle chains. He is engaged in working on posture to correct disturbances in statics and to learn better body control by working on muscle chains. We got his contact by
our ambassador Felicie Bertrand and found that he is used to treat riders. As he is based at the Hauts Vents stables in the heart of Normandy, the region's sportsmen have naturally gone to him. Based on his experience and following all types of riders, Vincent Rogine has his own idea about riding and its effects on the body.

So is our equestrian sport good or bad for the health and the back?

Horse Pilot: Which muscles and joints are most stressed during horseback riding??

Vincent Rogine: The most stressed areas are the pelvis, the ankle and knee joints and the back… At the muscular level, it is the abductors that are a problem and the retractions (shortening or reduction of tie volume) of the posterior chains that are troublesome. That is, if you have tension in the calf areas and therefore in the posterior muscle chains, this can be an obstacle to a correct posture on the horse.

H.P.: Are there diseases that are more common among riders? Does it depend on the different disciplines? Personally I know the dressage-. The show jumping closer. The main problem that one finds is all the
Tendonitis and muscle tears of the abductors or on the inner thigh, either by accidents or by chronic tensions that become painful. In general riding does not worsen the condition of patients with back pain, if you ride correctly, it will even tend to get better through the sport.

One could say that the two healthiest sports for the back are walking and horseback riding. What exacerbates back problems are falls and all the ancillary chores; when you clean the stalls, carry the obstacle poles… When you spend extended periods of time bent forward grooming the hooves, putting on cleats…

H.P.: You have already touched on another ie that concerns the area around horseback riding. Stable work often means a hay or. Holding a pitchfork or a broom… With one hand up, the other down, usually always in the same way!

V.R.: Yes, because as a right-handed person, one is not able to hold the pitchfork in any other way than with the right hand on top and the left hand on the bottom. You cannot do it the other way around. That's why you twist your back…
The importance of horseback riding lies in the fact that it is a symmetrical sport where you pay attention to your posture.

This is interesting in terms of body awareness and the work of symmetry, because we try to be symmetrical in what we do. For the horse. At the same time for yourself.

I never advise my patients against horseback riding. Instead, I say to them, "Ride with a protective vest, a riding cap, best to use an air bag, but protect yourself as much as possible, because if you fall, you do yourself no good."

In order not to have to worry about health in connection with the practice of our sport, there are loosening exercises that are mostly neglected in horseback riding…

H.P.: What advice could you give, simple, quick exercises to prepare for the effort and maintain physical condition permanently?

V.R. One should work thoroughly on posture. Stretching the body; this does not take 5 minutes. When you have to do something, before riding, then it is warming up the hips and abductors. Because it is the muscle that is caught cold, we suddenly put the thighs, this can lead to muscle tears, so one thing to do is to warm up the hips and abductors. There are no 36 of them!

H.P.: Could you describe me these exercises?

V.R.: Of course, when the rider is standing, he places his right heel on a stool with his leg extended. He bends his left leg and tenses his abductors, shifting his center of gravity a little downwards. His right leg should remain extended and the toe should be "flexed" upward to create a pull on the rear chain (back of the leg). So you don't need any complicated material; a stool, a bale of hay… You can also spread your two feet on the ground, slowly walk with your hips down, spreading your legs out.

When you're all stiff and blocked, you can't ride, you have to warm up. It would be ideal to get advice and set up a daily program to warm up three quarters of an hour or an hour beforehand. The preparation is important.

Another point to make is to loosen up your muscles well.

We are trying to loosen up the horse: the rider has to do the same thing. We are stiff because we are tense in the head. I treated a rider, his name is Christian E. and is very stiff. But when he rides he doesn't know that because he rides loosened up, that doesn't stop him from riding. Loosening up happens 50% physically and 50% mentally. It really makes a difference.

H.P.: How to find the right balance between loosening and tone?

You can find the happy medium if you know the posture of your body. This does not require strong muscular activity. You stand on your feet and align your weight well; ankles, knees, pelvis, shoulders, etc., as we were taught. The correct displacement of the body and its center of balance is not done by muscular effort, on the contrary. You have to be able to be as loose as possible, you just need muscle tone. We do not ride to train strength.

To be able to maintain the lightness and suppleness of the body, without blockages. From the moment you block your body, the horse blocks and then it's over.

The key is the mental control one has over one's posture and musculature. The ability not to block one's breathing. Yoga is good for this; there are many breathing exercises. You should try not to breathe short and superficial, but more into the belly, regularly and calmly! . If the breathing is blocked, you can't do anything. It only enables the rest of the work.

I come back to something you said before, one of the best sports besides horseback riding is walking. Can you tell us more about that?

V.R.: Yes, very simple. Walking with poles (Nordic walking) does not lead to injuries, all the muscles work, breathing works! This is what a rider can lack; since a course takes 70 seconds (in show jumping, note. d. Red.) lasts, you should find a slightly more intense activity where you can train yourself to exert yourself for a minute and a half without being completely "done" after 45. That's why you should go swimming – if you do it right – it can also be the bike, keeping up an intense effort for 2 minutes… … Training for short, intense efforts is important. If you don't have this training, at the end of the course or dressage repetition you see black because you can't breathe. You can always find a sport you like, but you have to do it whenever you can (cycling, swimming, stepping…).

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