With many top riders now swearing by Pilates, it is clear that this exercise technique is no passing fad. Andrea Oakes looks at some exercises to get you started
“The muscles around your pelvis and hip joints can go into low-grade spasm as a protective mechanism, wreaking havoc with your riding position,” says Pilates expert Lindsay Wilcox-Reid.
“You may not even be aware of this, yet the far-reaching effects through your back and shoulders can cause twisting, tilting and an inability to maintain an elastic contact.
“These preparatory exercises are designed to be used before starting Pilates to ‘normalise’ your fundamental pelvic and spinal mechanics. For each exercise, sit in a seat or chair with your legs hip-width apart.”
1. For the glutes
“Life your knee up towards your chest and clasp your hands behind your thigh to support the weight (pictured, right). Using only 20% of your maximum possible effort, press your thigh downwards into your hands without allowing your hands to be moved. Hold for 20 seconds. Let the leg go and place your foot on the floor for a few seconds, before repeating three times. Then complete the four sets with your other leg.”
2. For the piriformis muscles (at the side of your hips)
“Cross your left ankle over your right thigh, just above your knee, and place your hand on your left knee (pictured, left). Using only 20% of your maximum possible effort, press your ankle into your thigh and simultaneously push your knee upwards into your hand — without allowing your hand to be moved. Hold for 20 seconds. Release the pressure, uncross your leg and gently wiggle it for a few seconds before returning to the starting position to repeat another three times.
“Now cross your right ankle over your left thigh and repeat all four sets.”
Find details of Lindsay Wilcox-Reid’s Equipilates™ method and her books, Pilates for Riders and Core Connection for Rider and Horse at www.equipilates.com