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Jenn2674
Mar. 16, 2009, 09:51 AM
Some exercises on and off the horse. I still, 10 years into dressage, have difficulties tilting my pelvis forward. I have a natural arch in my lower back which results in my butt sticking out. It also, I think, contributes to some lower back pain when I have to do alot of standing so I am thinking about visiting a doctor. Just not sure if this is a chiropractor thing or an orthopedic doctor issue.

One thing I have discovered though is I think I have been fighting my saddle for the last five years. Really sucks because I bought the saddle brand new through a saddle fitter and bought it to fit me and the horse. I just didn't know enough and hadn't sat in enough saddles to know that it was wrong for me. Rode in my friends saddle (Albion Style SL)which apparently has a narrower twist, and low and behold, while not beautiful, I could actually sit a lengthen. My saddle apparently has a slightly wider (but not wide) twist, well according to VTO anyway (Prestige Galileo).

So I am sure that the saddle didn't help but I know I have this natural inclination to tilt my pelvis back anyway so can't blame it totally on the saddle.

Eclectic Horseman
Mar. 16, 2009, 10:10 AM
Get the DVD of Pilates for the Dressage Rider by Janice Dulak

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw_1_15?url=search-alias%3Ddvd&field-keywords=pilates+for+dressage+riders&sprefix=pilates+for+dre


This video gives exercises specific to dressage that will help you to identify and strengthen the correct muscles for proper alignment in the saddle.

cocopuff
Mar. 16, 2009, 10:20 AM
Please forgive me if I read this wrong...if your butt seems to be sticking out behind you would that not be because it "appears" your pelvis is tipped too far forward instead of too far back? I say "appears" because I have the exact same anatomy. My lower back has a bit more arch and thanks to squats on leg day, I have a butt. Trouble is, when I sit in a saddle I get told to "tuck my butt" because it looks like it is sticking out. I couldn't understand why this move would result in sore seat bones (for days!) and a horse that would not willingly go forward/round.

I found a book called "Balance in Movement" by Susanne Von Dietze. In it, she explains how your hip is in a neutral, correct position when your pubic bone lines up vertically with the front of your hip bone (the bony part you can feel when you put your hands on your waist). Well lo and behold, when I sat in my saddle and lined up these two parts of my hip I found that my butt will stick out behind me. I worked very hard to give myself a butt so ya know what, its just gonna have to park itself there while I let my hip bones sit in the correct position. Once I stopped "tucking my butt" the horse went MUCH better and my seat bones stopped hurting.

Sometimes if my lower back feels tight I stretch my hip flexors. My job has me sitting all day so its no surprise that the flexors shorten, which in turn pulls on the lumbar spine. I'll stretch the hip flexors and get immediate relief so you might try that. :yes:

butlerfamilyzoo
Mar. 16, 2009, 10:41 AM
I second cocopuff. I have the same problem, my instructor also told me to "think about sitting on your pockets" which was HORRID and everything just shut down.

One thing i have noticed, if my lower back is hurting, its usually because i've put a lot of tension in that area, using my lower back instead of my core muscles. Easy to do if you have that type of anatomy! Sometimes i have to stop my horse, and stretch forward with my hands in her ears and let that lower back stretch forward and down my horses neck. She usually abliges by putting her nose to the ground and i about do a nose dive into the dirt... LOL... but it helps!

I've only had one instructor realize that i'm built this way and he's just got to deal with it. He was the only one that ever had me riding correctly and got SOOO much out of me that i never thought possible. Then of course we had to move.

So i dont think its a matter of tucking your butt or tipping your pelvis, if you sit in the saddle, bring your knees together in front of you so you FEEL your seat bones on the seat, then let them fall again, if your butt is still sticking out behind you and you still feel the seat bones on the saddle just the same as you felt them with your knees up, then dont change a thing!

I also think people built like us have a heck of a time mastering a sitting trot. Unfortunately. I've just gone the other way, if i cant fix myself to ride it, i bought smoother moving horses that i could sit with ease. If you are on a 17h bouncy elephant, you might have to hang it up or work at it until you think you are going to die and then work some more.

REALLY strengthen your core muscles, yoga, pillates, etc... Otherwise, like i mentioned above, i think we fall into using our lower back instead in my experience.

Good luck!

cocopuff
Mar. 16, 2009, 10:50 AM
I also think people built like us have a heck of a time mastering a sitting trot.

This is a huge YES for me! Thanks to sitting on the back edge of my seat bones because it made my upper body look "prettier" I never did learn how to sit the trot. Well no wonder, I was sitting in a way to fulfill what looks nice without it being correct for my body. My hips had no chance to follow the movement of the horse. I hope that this will become a thing of the past with each progressing lesson. :)

CatOnLap
Mar. 16, 2009, 11:16 AM
If you stand like that naturally, yoga, pilates and physio can help correct the muscle imbalances that promote and preserve this type of posture which always leads to back pain eventually.

You need to check saddle fit- and shape and width of the twist- individual pelvic shape interacts with this part of the saddle and a correct saddle for you may not feel all that good at first until you can maintain a more open hip angle and less of an arch in your low back. Only about 40% of women have a typical female pelvic shape- most of us have variations on android or even male shape. Many people like those big thigh rolls that literally hold your leg down to promote an open hip angle. (good to hang onto when they buck, anyway). Be aware though that if your hip flexor tendons are contracted, having those rolls will cause more of an arch as the lowered thighs apply traction to the top of the iliac crest and drag it forward.

Also check fit on the horse- it is imperative that the deepest part of the saddle while on the horse, is in the middle above the flaps. In a pinch a folded up hand or bath towel can be used under the saddle during a lesson to adjust the tilt and fit to see how it affects your ability to maintain a correct and supple pelvic tilt. The saddle can then be stuffed to suit, if it helps.

Eclectic Horseman
Mar. 16, 2009, 11:46 AM
Good post.


I second cocopuff. I have the same problem, my instructor also told me to "think about sitting on your pockets" which was HORRID and everything just shut down.

Yes, that is a really terrible visualization for many people and can end in some serious back problems. That's because when the rider tucks the buttocks underneath her, her back rounds, she collapses in the abdominal muscles and the spine is totally unsupported.

The correct thing for an instructor to say is, "engage your abs by tightening them while sitting tall in the saddle. Then tighten your lower back/upper gluteal muscles to remove the arc of neutral spinal alignment and straighten your lower back. This also has the effect of opening the thighs."

One thing i have noticed, if my lower back is hurting, its usually because i've put a lot of tension in that area, using my lower back instead of my core muscles. Easy to do if you have that type of anatomy! Sometimes i have to stop my horse, and stretch forward with my hands in her ears and let that lower back stretch forward and down my horses neck. She usually abliges by putting her nose to the ground and i about do a nose dive into the dirt... LOL... but it helps!

I've only had one instructor realize that i'm built this way and he's just got to deal with it. He was the only one that ever had me riding correctly and got SOOO much out of me that i never thought possible. Then of course we had to move.

So i dont think its a matter of tucking your butt or tipping your pelvis, if you sit in the saddle, bring your knees together in front of you so you FEEL your seat bones on the seat, then let them fall again, if your butt is still sticking out behind you and you still feel the seat bones on the saddle just the same as you felt them with your knees up, then dont change a thing!

It is possible to do target toning to firm up your gluteal muscles. When they are highly toned, their shape will change and you will lose some of the junk in the trunk. If you are truly lordodic (sway backed) because of a spinal condition like spondylolisthesis, you will not be able to totally remove the arch in your lower spine, but toning and flattening your glutes will help diminish the appearance of sway back.

I also think people built like us have a heck of a time mastering a sitting trot. Unfortunately. I've just gone the other way, if i cant fix myself to ride it, i bought smoother moving horses that i could sit with ease. If you are on a 17h bouncy elephant, you might have to hang it up or work at it until you think you are going to die and then work some more.

REALLY strengthen your core muscles, yoga, pillates, etc... Otherwise, like i mentioned above, i think we fall into using our lower back instead in my experience.

I agree. The Pilates for Dressage Riders dvd that I posted above is very helpful to target the right muscles for correct dressage position in the saddle.

Good luck!

medical mike
Mar. 16, 2009, 06:43 PM
The pelvis is too far forward or "lordotic". You want to go in the opposite direction. Can have several causes, a few anatomical.

If you have "always" been that way, then I would guess it is something you were born with. Not the worse thing, but certainly has implications on what exercises are/not appropriate.

I agree to start with a physician to rule out the common causes, then a visit or two to a rehab professional who can teach you proper strengthening exercises.
Stretching, yes some, but strengthening more.

Regards,
Medical Mike
equestrian medical researcher
www.fitfocusedforward.us

Jenn2674
Mar. 16, 2009, 07:55 PM
Yes you are correct, my butt sticks out behind me, so I guess it is too far forward. I'm really glad I posted this now. You've all given me some things to ponder.

I did just recently discover that i don't think my saddle fits me. I've been riding in it for five years and I've been having a horrible time with my balance lately. I've always struggled with my sitting trot but when I rode in my friends Albion, not only was my sitting trot much better but I felt secure for the first time in a very long time. I've forever been drawing my legs up everytime I felt insecure in my own saddle but did not do it nearly as bad in her saddle. I checked with VTO and sure enough my Prestige has a medium-narrow twist where as according to my friend the albion is a narrow.

I'm not sure If I've always had the lower back arch but I've certainly had it for a while. It doesn't seem to cause to many problems unless I have to do some sort of just standing for a while, then it can get excrutiating!

Medical Mike - should i go to a chiropractor or an orthopedic doctor? I don't think my insurance covers chiro's but i'll pay for it if they would be the better option.

I'm going to order the pilates dvd right now!

medical mike
Mar. 17, 2009, 08:07 PM
A. My opinion is ortho who specializes in backs. YOU have to be as precise as possible in your history. Helps the physician...

B. The drawing up of you knees. Granted I don't know the finer points of fitting a saddle, but drawing the knees up is probably a reaction to the back pain. A compensation so to speak.

C. Pilates......a good tool, but consider that it is first a strengthening program for dancers and their stability needs are very different from the riding athlete.
I'll stick to my posit that you need at least a visit to a rehab professional to evaluate for what is probably some degree of "lower cross syndrome", caused by something anatomical or not is TBD. You will need to learn proper torso muscle activation, which in the vast majority of cases requires a hands on session or two. DVD is fine as a follow up, but as a first line learning tool is hit and miss.

Regards,
medical Mike
equestrian medical researcher
www.fitfocusedforward.us

Ambrey
Mar. 17, 2009, 08:09 PM
Mike, how does one find a rehab professional who will do this? I spent 5 months in PT after my accident, and they didn't get that detailed with me.

EqTrainer
Mar. 17, 2009, 08:25 PM
Re: Abion versus Prestige - it's not just the twist. My old working student has the "butt behind her" issue and she CANNOT ride worth a darn in my Prestige. She herself has an Albion ;) but a model where the twist is quite wide.

medical mike
Mar. 18, 2009, 08:02 PM
There are lots of reasons why.....Information turn-over, there are philosophies, etc.....so reasonable, some not so much.

Granted there is a huge gap in what we on the rehab side know about treating equestrian athletes, but in the end that should not make a difference in the care you receive. In my training, If you did not know, you better find out quick because you owed it to the patient.

Of course, as a patient you are expected to help guide the rehab professionals treatment. If you are happy, then there is little more one needs to do. If not, drive them with questions......

That all said, I'm turning over the site in a few weeks to include tutorials on some of the topics I've talked about here. It won't have a physician search, but if you PM me, I can put out feelers for any area.

REgards,
Medical Mike
equestrian medical researcher
www.fitfocusedforward.us