Monday 6 April 2020

Turn On to Turn Off

I didn't manage to get out to the barn at all last week. I finished my self-isolation on Wednesday and was back to work on Thursday, to work the next 5 days straight. I've got a crappy 1pm - 9pm shift for a bit, which doesn't leave me much time to do much out of the house in the mornings. I can make it out to the barn if I need to for a farrier or vet appointment, but I generally have to head straight to work and pick up lunch on the way - it makes for a very long day. Thus I tend not to head out to the barn on these days if I don't need to.

I'm off Tuesday and Wednesday this week so I plan to head out on both days. Not sure if I'm going to ride or not - Tuesday's plans include scraping off copious amounts of hair and letting the ponies loose in the arena to have a play. I'm not sure what I'll do on Wednesday with them.

Since I know I'm not going to be getting much saddle time, I decided to clear off my clothes hanger treadmill and start running again. And by running I mean many short slow runs with lots of walking in between. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.
The current temperature as of mid-morning on Monday. I'm staying inside for my exercise.
It's apparently still winter here so I'm staying inside. I bought a new tv that sits on the bookcase in front of the treadmill so that I can watch virtual running Youtube videos while I'm huffing and puffing. I totally got into it on my first attempt, to the point that when a maintenance vehicle came around the corner on the park path I was "running" on I moved my body on the treadmill to dodge it and shouted out. Can't wait to try a run through London!

I've tried to be a runner before. My brain loves it, my body hates it. My lower back gets tight, my right knee gets sore, and omg my IT bands. All similar problems that I get after riding, and ones that certainly don't help in the saddle.

I'm trying to be better about stretching and working out some of the sore bits on a regular basis. I've (mostly) embraced the foam roller and can now just whisper my curses instead of shouting them out.

Stretching and Foam Rolling; My New Strategy

I came across this video last week which made a big difference in my next run. It's got a couple of things to work on biomechanically to help reduce injuries while running. One thing was cadence - the amount of steps that you take per minute. I discovered that I was running way under speed - he started the guy on the treadmill at 8mph and he was still under the desired 180 cadence. I was generally running at just under 5mph. So on my next run I bumped it up to 6mph and as a result I didn't hurt at all afterwards. My back wasn't very tight, my knee started sore on my first couple of slower runs, but it disappeared at the faster speed. So I think that that's going to make a big difference. I'll just work slowly to increase the duration - it was hard!

The best thing I got from this video was a way to stretch your hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are a common complaint amongst riders so this one might have some application to equestrians.

I'm sure we've all done this stretch - you put one knee on the ground, the other foot on the floor in front of you with your knee at 90 degrees, and you try to stretch your hip. When your flexors are tight you feel the burn, right?

This stretch starts the same way. But instead of trying to actively stretch the hip flexor, you engage your glutes for 3 seconds on the side that the knee is on the ground. Then release, then repeat for 10 sets.

The video should be cued up to start at the part about the hip flexors.

Holy crap, it works. You will start to feel your hip flexors release, and every time you finish squeezing your glute the front of your hips will just sink forward. It was amazing.

I think the idea is that you have to turn one on to turn one off. To turn off your hip flexors, you have to turn on your glutes. Because this is being used in a running application the idea is teach your glutes to fire so that they do the work instead of your hamstrings.

For riding, we probably don't want to engage our glutes all that much - tight butts pop you out of the saddle. However, as a way to stretch out those oh so tight hips, I would totally recommend it.

I'm also thinking about how these theories can be applied to horses. Is there an ideal cadence that the horse should be moving at? Is a slow trot harder on joints and muscles? How can I encourage something to turn on to allow something to turn off? Time for some research!

No comments:

Post a Comment