TERESA DIXON EXPLAINS BIOMECHANICS COACHING - The benefits to your riding and your horse


Over the coming months Teresa Dixon (Dip ITS, DipFTST MBCA Specialist Biomechanics Coach) will be guiding us through the nature of Biomechaincs coaching, explaining how by looking after yourself first will benefit your riding and your horse. 
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Introducing Teresa Dixon and Biomechanics
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My passion for human movement began in 1994 when I completed my HND in sports science. The sports injury and coaching elements of the course inspired me. I knew I wanted to help people reduce pain and achieve their full potential.
This led me to my first job at Lincoln County hospital where I worked as a physiotherapy assistant for a couple of years, which really set the ball rolling. I went back to study Fitness Training and Sport Therapy and later Pilates and it's where my love of 'helping people help themselves' really exploded.
I discovered Biomechanics coaching three years ago, it really married all my qualifications together, as I had always felt there was a missing link - and this is it!
I am now a specialist biomechanics coach and this has given me the skill set to assess how joints, muscles and nerves function. More importantly how they inter link with each other and how past pain, injuries and present lifestyle (work, hobbies and sports) can leave dysfunctional movement patterns that feel normal but leave you susceptible to further injury or discomfort.
I start by assessing the body (spine, hips, knee, shoulder nerves and feet, addressing any dysfunctions (if present) to bring the body back to optimum posture. I then stabilize and strengthen the core and other areas that may have been weakened by the compensation patterns that are present. 
Over the past few years riders have been told to strengthen their cores to improve their riding, but if the body has dysfunctions, core work could simply reinforce these dysfunctions, not improve their riding. 
I have been very fortunate to meet Angela Weiss who is British Dressage Para Equestrian Director and trains the World Class Development Para Equestrian squad. She came to me for sports massage about 8 years ago and we spoke about strengthening the core to improve riding and postural improvement. Angela and I ran postural awareness and Pilates sessions for her riders until I became a biomechanics coach, where my new found knowledge was invaluable to a technical sport such as riding. I saw the importance of symmetry in the saddle and how most of us are not symmetrical (even if we think we are) and this can really affect both the rider and the horse. 
So Angela and I set about changing this and in 2010 she introduced me to Sophie Wells, who has just won two Silvers and Gold at the Paralympics and is current World and European Para Dressage champion. Sophie, Angela and I have been working hard to keep Sophie balanced, strong and injury free. I have also started work this year with Emma Sheardown, who has also won Gold at European and World championships. 
I have worked with many riders and their instructors (I do not ride myself) from all over the country. I specialise in how our bodies move and whether they are achieving optimum movement, symmetry and posture. Quite simply, if the body is not working off the horse it certainly won't be on the horse, and many of the issues riders have with their horses are in fact the horse 'mirroring' back the rider's own biomechanical faults. I think a lot of people, even good riders, still don't realise this - So however hard they school their horses, it is always a series of compensations, not a true improvement. Needless to say this puts undue stress on horse and rider!
As well as my own research, I use a specialist biomechanics coaching programme designed by Martin Haines, a leading physiotherapist. It's a research and evidence based injury prevention and recovery programme to achieve optimum performance, and is also available online if you can't get to a presentation or personal assessment.

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I have presented on 'Symmetry in the Saddle' for Nottinghamshire BHS, East Midlands Riding Camp, and yards all over the East Midlands and have helped many riders.
I look forward to introducing you to the real benefits of Biomechanics coaching and some real life case studies.