5 poses to correct posture problems while at work.

Ouch! Nothing worse than a rib that pops out of place.

After many days of necessary work done at my computer, I have been spending less time riding the horses and more time flying a desk.

After two days of overlooking incorrect posture at my desk, it got the best of me and now my upper back has had enough. In response to such atrocious posture, my rib has displaced itself.

Our lives and our jobs have a tendency to send our bodies in a forward motion. Hunching over your computers while progressing through a pile of work, walking to your next task, leaning forward in your car while trying to get through traffic and even riding a circle trying to figure out an exercises your instructor just gave you are all examples of this. In our attempt to focus, our bodies tend to cave a bit in that focused intensity.

Forward is good! However, hunching into your forward work is not. As you move forward through your tasks during the day, think about opening up as you move forward. You may find you enjoy the scenery around you as your focus opens up as well.

I have put together a few very simple poses to do in-between desk workouts for you professionals out there having difficulty getting away from your computers.  (I know, I’m clearly not at my office desk. But what good is a picture without a horse in it anyway? Meet my lovely Penelope.  My 4 yr old dressage hopeful!) These poses work best for me when I do them every thirty minutes or so throughout my computer working days. They are designed to open up your upper back, stretch your lower back and legs and remind you to engage those abs!

5 poses to correct posture problems while you sit.

Defeat the desk job slump! Open up while working.

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Becoming an Athlete

“Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good and then work to get better. “  Paul Coffey

Cross training is how I have developed as an athlete, not just a rider. (And yes, the first exercise is at the bottom!)  In what other sport do you find athletes only willing to practice their particular sport with the expectation of achieving a fully trained and complete specimen.  Shoot, we don’t even expect our horses to be complete dressage athletes by solely practicing dressage!  We trail ride, hack, jump, gallop and what have you, all as a means of developing the well-rounded athlete.

So I must remind riders that if they expect their mounts to be an athlete, and they certainly should, then as the leader of the dancing pair they must first become athletes.

Merriam Webster definition of an Athlete: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

The words I take from this definition aretrainedphysical strengthagility andstamina, all words that require an action to develop.  Put another way, its not so much talent, but hard work that develops the athlete.

What?  Dressage riders must commit the act of physical work to develop as an athlete?  “Wait a minute”, one might ask… “whatever happened to the sport of dressage that I picked because of its grace and ease?”

Lets not forget that to get grace and ease, we must “crack some eggs” as Dale so kindly puts it.  And as Kourtney King-Dye put it “You go through a lot of ugly to get pretty”.  The process of egg cracking takes athleticism folks!

Training the upper levels of dressage proves that dressage takes balance, a certain amount of strength, agility and the endurance to “stick through a tough spot” for the duration until you and your horse can wade out of your particular situation.  This all takes physical fitness.

As a fellow area trainer complained to me in exasperation: “I’m just getting them (out of shape student) started when they look at me, out of breath, and ask to take a break.  How are we to get any real work done?!”

So this is my aim, to develop myself and other riders with the result of attaining physical strength, agility and stamina resulting in a trained athlete that has worked hard and achieved the highest level of the sport possible to them.

On to the first exercise for the dressage athlete.

Before we ever begin any real work, it’s a must to loosen the body and breath. So the first exercises is simple yet very important.  This is an opening exercise, and great to do just before your ride as it begins your deep breathing, gives you a chance to focus on the ride and get rid of any “extras” running around in your brain from that days chaos (no thinking about paying bills, chores that need to be done or family troubles!).  Your ride becomes your “happy” place. When you enter the barn, you are problem free!  I find that riders need to take a specific action to clear their mind and enter this place of calm, so this is why I picked the “Standing Opening” as our first exercise.
stand

With your shoulders square to your hips and your hips square to your feet, raise your hands directly overhead. This motion in itself stretches and opens your chest.  Pull your shoulder blades together, keep your back straight and engage those abs. Now, with your hands directly over head reaching up as far as is comfortable, sink your arms deeper into their sockets and begin deep breathing.  While you breath, begin to focus on the ride ahead and stop thinking of the “extras”.

My disclaimer:  I am only sharing what has worked for me and fellow students.  Exercise at your own risk! If done incorrectly, injury is possible.  Please consult your physician first, and especially if you have any previous injuries, back pain etc.  Some of these exercises may not be recommended with previous conditions.  Always stop all exercises if you feel pain!