ACHIEVE 'SYMMETRY IN THE SADDLE' AND IMPROVE YOUR STABILITY AND STRENGTH - What to expect from your biomechanics screening

teresa hmslogoThe screening is an 'off the horse' assessment where we look at how key   joints, muscles and nerves are functioning. All it requires is for us to be able to see your ankle bones and for you to wear clothing that you can move in. Pictures are taken on the first session as a record of your initial posture.

The aim is to 'Normalise, Stabilise and Functionalise' your body in order to achieve 'Symmetry in the Saddle'.

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 The assessment requires you to lie down and be taken through various movement patterns to see how your hip muscles and joints are working.

Sixty percent of all dysfunctional (poor) movement patterns come from the pelvis and the leg nerves being inefficient or tight.

Whilst on the couch we also check the chest muscles as these can become dominant from sitting, driving, constant heavy work such as mucking out, or can be affected if your horse is very powerful or lively.
Once we have completed the couch elements we will place you in a seated position and check how well your spine is moving, followed by looking at the position of your shoulders, legs and feet. 

jANE ON_CHAIR_photo_2_1At the end of the assessment we explain in detail how one part of the body can
be affected by a dysfunction in another part of your body, you will be given a unique and personalised corrective exercise programme which is specific to your needs. 

We then take you through the exercises and rescreen you to check the exercises are appropriate and you are able to perform them - at this stage we may adjust the exercise program. 
Once we confirm the program the rider receives a full report of all the exercises with a detailed explanation of their dysfunctions.
JANE ON_CHAIR_WITH_ARMS_OUTphoto_3 The aim of the first session is to give your body the capacity to perform normal movements without the body compensating for poor movement patterns. We start by getting the hips and spine working effectively, giving you 'Symmetry in the Saddle' and a sound base to strengthen the core.
Once symmetry is achieved, it is important to give the muscles the capacity to move by creating a stable and coordinated core. Symmetry may be achieved by the end of initial assessment or it may take two or three sessions, depending on your dysfunctions and how well you stick to the programme.
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Exact time scales for improvements can not be given and will vary as each individual is unique: some of us need more work than others, depending on past injuries and posture.
The stabilise phase achieves stability in the saddle and starts on the floor with mat work exercises to strengthen core and improve coordination. However, as we ride in a seated posture it is important to work the core in a seated position. It is vital that we go through the correct progressions to improve the core, initially ensuring we can engage all the core muscles and then challenging the core's strength with co-ordination (on the floor). 
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Only once you have achieved the Stabilise phase will we progress you to a stable seated position which repeats the progress of strengthening the core by using coordination to challenge it. Again once this is achieved you can move on to an unstable surface and finally to a standing posture to ensure the core is effective for all aspects of life not only riding. 
If we cannot engage the core effectively on a stable surface, the body may use incorrect muscles to perform the task. This is why you need to learn to use the core efficiently off the horse. The core is inhibited if the body is not normalised, therefore we ensure your hips and spine are functioning effectively before implementing structure and progressive core work.
As the core and co-ordination start to be effective, it means you have good solid foundations to start strengthening any other of the body's weaknesses ensuring good posture and optimum performance. 
The conditioning program will include arms and legs, ensuring you keep symmetry, stability and the strength in your body. Together with a riding coach this will help you to move and ride to your full potential and optional performance.
(Please note that every session is unique to you and your needs and should not be shared with others) 
After you have completed your first session you will be provided with your own unique set of exercises and may include exercises such as:Teresa Dixon_sitting_image_photo_9 
Anti spasm exercises 
These are very gentle techniques that correct sub clinical muscle spasm (where the muscle is not injured but just misbehaving and you may not even be aware this is happening). These need to be performed frequently to bring back function, done mainly seated so can be performed anywhere you have a seat. These are subtle techniques: where you will be moving very slowly and gently with a maximum of 20% effort sitting on a chair or lying (not jumping around or being worked to the max like in aerobics). 
> Mobility work to get the spine moving
> Gentle mobilisation for the nerves in the arms and legs if required. An example is shown below, please note this should only be performed if it has been prescribed to you by a biomechanics coach or medical professional approved.
4-sign exercise
Benefits of the 4-sign exercise (So-called because your crossed legs look like a 4).
Releases hips, lower back and shoulders to reduce pain and improve movements in back, knees, shins, shoulders and neck.
1. Sit on a chair and cross one leg over the other as in the picture. (Make sure your ankle bone is not resting on your knee or thigh)
2. Imagine your crossed leg is like a see- saw by pushing your ankle and foot towards the ground so that your knee comes up. Make sure the effort comes from pushing your foot down, not by lifting your knee up.
3. Now place both hands on the inside of your knee as in the picture.
4. Repeat the see-saw action by pushing your ankle and foot downwards.
5. Imagine your hands are a wall blocking the knee from moving upwards.
6. Effort needs be @ 20% of maximum effort. To find 20% start at 100% effort, relax then repeat but with half the effort (50%) relax again then repeat with half the effort (25%) and just a bit less effort giving you 20% - this is just enough to gently engage the muscles in your hip.

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Subsequent sessions will focus on mobility, as well as strengthening of the core and body once symmetry is achieved, or as close as your body's make up allows, given that we are all different. It is essential to go through all the progressions to optimise your riding and help keep you injury free.