I’ve recently been riding in a Dressage saddle and boy has it made my hips tight and sore.
Dressage saddles are notorious for this as they put the rider’s legs in a different position to a GP or jump saddle. I find my legs are thrust back and open, rather than the higher and more forward knee position that I’m used to.
It was getting me down because the saddle is so lovely and comfortable and I definitely find it easier to school in, but recently I’ve been getting a lot of pain in my left hip and I generally feel tight across the pelvis. So I turned to my other passion, yoga, to help me fix it.
I think tight hips is quite a common complaint made by equestrians. Certainly lots of riders I know suffer from it and physio or sports massage can be really expensive, so it’s often something we put up with. I’ve recently been doing some simple yoga poses in the evening to help to loosen up my tight hips and the great thing about it is that they can be done in the evening, in front of the TV, with your pyjamas on!
Obviously if you already practice yoga then by all means incorporate these poses in to your normal routine, but there is no need for a special yoga mat or any other equipment. I generally spend about 15 or 20 minutes doing these poses, holding each one for a substantial period and breathing to help deepen the pose.
This website has really great photos and descriptions of each pose.
A yoga favourite – I’ll probably start and end with this pose, but to deepen it and open up my hips, I’ll spread my legs a little wider than normal, so my thighs are laying out to the side rather than underneath me. This is a great pose to hold for a longer period of time – concentrate on steady breathing.
Bound Angle Pose
The name sounds confusing, but you’re probably already aware of this position. It doesn’t matter if your knees are on the floor or closer to your ears. Remember, the key is to loosen your hips and improve your riding, not to become more flexible than your riding buddy.
Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
Another simple, yet very effective way to loosen those hips. If you do this each evening for a few weeks, you’ll be surprised by how much your range improves. I also notice that when I do these stretches in the evening after riding, I ache less in the thighs than I normally would the next day. (Yes, I still get achey legs after riding, despite doing it nearly every day!)
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
I love this pose! I find it so relaxing and you can feel the gravity gently pulling the legs down and opening those tight hips. It gives immediate release. I also find that it feels really good on my back to lay on the hard floor.
I hope these poses give you some relief or help you to loosen up and improve your riding. Enjoy!
Disclaimer – I’m not a medical expert, nor am I a yoga teacher. These poses have helped me, but everybody is different, so please be careful and consult an expert if you are not sure.