Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
F.I.T.S. (Fitness in the Saddle) by Jennifer Malott Kotylo
Movement and Body Awareness Specialist for Equestrians Jennifer Malott Kotylo will
be sharing her expert advice throughout the coming months! Welcome Jennifer!
I am a stickler about proper pelvic position Without your pelvis
in the proper position (both top to bottom and side to side) you lose your
ability to balance around your horse and to follow his motion.
Most of us (riders and non-riders alike) walk around with
misaligned pelvises and don't realize it. But when you look in the mirror are
your shoulders uneven? Have you been told that you have one leg longer than the
other? Do you have back and/or neck stiffness? Can you tum your head more
easily in one direction than the other? If you answered, "yes" to any
of these questions, the culprit may
be your pelvis.
So, how do you know if your pelvis may not be in the best
alignment? I'm going to give you a simple test that only takes you and a
full-length mirror. Stand facing away from the mirror approx. 5-6 feet with
your feet hip distance apart. (Please make sure that your feet are facing
straight forward, which means that your first toe - not your big toe – is
pointing towards the wall in front of you and that you are balanced equally
between the ball of your foot and your heel.} Slowly bend forward from your
waist and look between your legs. You should now be looking at your backside in
the mirror. Look at the top of your hips. They should be parallel to the floor,
not sloping to one side or the other. Congratulations if they are parallel. If
they are sloping, slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other until
your hips are even. Do you feel a pull or a cramp? This is just your body
telling you that it is out of balance muscularly. Slowly stand up.
Many different muscle groups can impact your pelvis' alignment. Here
we are going to focus on just one - the dreaded hamstrings. One of the most
effective ways I have found to get my hamstrings to let go is by working with a
Yamana Body Rolling Ball or Franklin Ball. (You don't have to have an authentic
Yamana or Franklin ball. Any ball approximately 10 inches in diameter, which is
strong enough to sit on and hard enough to exert some pressure on your muscles will
Before you start working your hamstrings, sit or lay on the
floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Take a moment to feel the
sensation of your legs on the floor and to see if one leg appears longer than
Start by placing one seat bone or the other on the ball (#1). Use
your feet and hands to stabilize yourself. (You'll feel a bit like a crab.)
Begin to "massage" your seat bone with the ball by gently rolling
back and forth in both linear and circular patterns for 2 to 3 minutes.
(Depending on how tight you are this may be a bit uncomfortable. If it’s too
uncomfortable, try taking some of your weight off of the ball by supporting
yourself more with your hands and feet.)
Once you have worked the muscular
connections around your seat bone, slowly start to work the ball down the back
of your leg using circular and linear patterns (#2). Work the ball down to just
above your knee and then back up to your seat bone.
Slowly slide off the ball and test your leg length and leg feel
again. If you are like most people, your "worked" leg will seem
longer and more in touch with the ground. Your hamstrings and their connections
to your seat bone and knee have been released. Proceed with your other leg,
starting at your seat bone and working your way down to your knee to even
yourself out. Check out your leg length and feel of the floor.
Next take the mirror test again. Hopefully you hips will be much
more in alignment. (Please note that if your hips were very unlevel and/or your
“leg length” was significantly different, do three sets of rolling - first with
the "shorter" leg, then the longer and then the shorter again. (Know
that it it's extremely rare that legs are actually of different length. What
appear as differing lengths is usually a pelvis torque.)
This simple release will help you sit more evenly on your seat
bones and allow your legs to hang in a more natural way around your horse
helping you to attain better balance and communication with your equine
I want to hear from you! Your health and fitness is just as
important as the health and fitness of your horse so e-mail me with any
questions or challenges you are facing!
Jennifer developed a passion for body awareness and
biomechanics while pursuing her lifelong quest of international level dressage
riding. She is a certified Core Dynamics Pilates Instructor, certified
Equilates teacher and certified Balimo practitioner. Jennifer is also the
creator of the DVD program “Improve Your Riding Through Movement.” No matter
what style of riding you are into – no matter what your experience level is and
no matter what your age may be, these DVDs will help you create a body that is
more flexible, safer in the saddle and one that can enjoy riding for years and
years to come. Jennifer is also a national speaker on both health and wellness
topics. To contact Jennifer, visit her website at: http://jenniferkotylo.com.
Note from Gina: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult with your health care professional. Do not exercise or extend beyond your physical condition; work slowly until you reach the level where you feel comfortable exercising and performing new movements. Through Jennifer's program you can become more agile in the saddle and enjoy flexibility all day long.