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View Full Version : Physically can't get weight in heels.... Help!



weebs07
Sep. 21, 2009, 12:45 PM
In third grade I was the only one who couldn't touch my toes...... Very unflexible..... My instructor say "toes up!!!" "weight in heels!!!!". More!!!! MORE!!!!

If I physically shove my heels down my lower leg going flying infront of the girth.... Trying to use a different muscle to put toes up doesn't yield big result.

Can I learn how to do this or are the inflexible just not meant to be in horse shows?

instructor wants to kill me and I have my first horse show thus weekend ! Just pleasure on the flat, but seriously Need advice

Quinn
Sep. 21, 2009, 12:50 PM
This might help for you. The minute I am in the saddle, I stand up and drop all my weight deep into my heels. Then I sit down in the saddle and keep my heels right where they were. Another good exercise for you is to stand on a stair and allow your heel to drop. Don't bounce as this can be physically damaging apparently (I still do it.) If you constantly ask those muscles to lenghten and stretch, they will.

http://community.webshots.com/user/ballyduff

JinxyFish313
Sep. 21, 2009, 12:51 PM
Work in and out of the saddle on increasing flexibility in your ankle. One exercise I did when rehabbing my ankle (injury) was to sit on the floor with my legs out and a long rubber band type thing on the ball of my foot, then you flex the ankle and push down on the rubber band. Its kind of like pushing a gas pedal down, but with more resistance. Roll your ankles around a bunch when you first get on the horse. Use the ball of your foot to balance on stairs while your ankles drop off the edge of the stair.

ilmjumper
Sep. 21, 2009, 02:43 PM
Strech ALL your legs muscles, not just your ankle, and remember to do some type of quick exercise before you strech to get your blood moving. Think of your muscles like rubber bands, if they're cold when you try to strech them they'll just break, warm them up first! And make sure if you do any other type of exercise that tends to keep your ankles in one postition constantly, that you strech before and after you work out!

jherold
Sep. 21, 2009, 02:59 PM
I don't necessarily recommend this (I work for lawyers and feel compelled to insert a disclaimer), but my first trainer (let's not talk about how long ago this was), put my heel through my stirrup and sent me off over a few cross poles. Amazing how that motivated me to get my heals down! If your heel comes up the least little bit, you lose your stirrup!

Now I gett screamed at for my heel being too far down! (I didn't think that was possible)!

Sebastian
Sep. 21, 2009, 03:02 PM
I am the QUEEN of not flexible. Even when I ran Track in High School and stretched EVERY FREAKIN' DAY...I could not touch my toes. (Never have, never will... :yes: :lol: )

I don't think the issue is really "flexability", more likely it's strength and balance. When you push down into the heel, don't forget to keep your core tight (yes, that means stomach muscles) because that's what we use to balance our UPPER body.

The stronger your "core" muscles, the more control you have over the rest of your body.

Hang in there!
Seb :)

Long Spot
Sep. 21, 2009, 03:08 PM
Do you do any counter productive activities? Jog? Had a lot of dance classes at some point? Spend a lot of time in high heels? Those things will make your struggle even harder as well.

When I was a kid, one thing my first instructor asked me to do was spend some time every day with the balls of my feet on a stair step, and let my heels drop as far as was comfortable. Hold that position for as long as you can with no pain. Shouldn't take long before you notice you are able to sink down further.

rottngirl
Sep. 21, 2009, 03:11 PM
If you can get into yoga, there are a ton of very helpful positions that will train your body to get your heels down with weight in them.

Downward dog is fabulous for this, I just hang there for like 10 min or as long as I can stand :lol:

That really helps a lot.

And IMHO so do a great pair of super soft boots :cool:

hollyhorse2000
Sep. 21, 2009, 03:47 PM
This will not be fixed in a day.

This will not be fixed in the saddle.

You need to work on stretching your whole leg and back, too. Pilates is what finally worked for me. I have very, very tight calves and low back muscles. It's all connected. I swear by Pilates.

Yes, two point will help. Yes, flexible stirrups might help, too. But for some of us, it just takes time and effort . . .

(BTW, I can finally do it, but I won't tell you have many years it took!!!)

Oh, and stop wearing high heels!! ;-)

akrogirl
Sep. 21, 2009, 06:36 PM
I have to second Sebastian's response, especially since it sounds as if we are equally lacking in the flexability genes, lol. I also did track in high school, ballet, pilates, worked with a private trainer, the works - nothing and no one could ever improve my flexibility :-( Heck, after I broke my collar bone, the doctor was concerned about the limited range of motion in that shoulder, until he checked my "good" side that is, and found that it was equally bad ;-)

Like Sebastian, I have found working on my core strength and balance to be more helpful - lots of no stirrup work and just getting out there riding as often as possible.

We may not have the best body types for riding, but we are not total lost causes so hang in there, and good luck with your show :-)

fascination
Sep. 21, 2009, 07:46 PM
A really quick in-the-saddle-fix: after you've warmed up a bit at the posting trot, alternate your posting. Stand for two beats, sit for one. It's really difficult to figure out the rhythm at first but you'll get it - grab some mane if you have to. The longer you do this, the more you'll sink into your heels and by the end of it.

But I definitely second whoever said that it won't be fixed quickly nor solely in the saddle. Get on those stairs and sink deep.

Platinum Equestrian
Sep. 21, 2009, 08:02 PM
I feel your pain... I wear 4" heels daily for work and end up walking a lot. It doesn't lend to my heels going down as easily now as I'm a little older. :(

So I have the same struggle and spend a lot of time stretching on the ground, and in two point at the walk... then my husband tells me my heels are still up when I'm riding. :no:

spmoonie
Sep. 21, 2009, 08:04 PM
I have found that stretching every day helps a lot. Stretch your whole leg, not just your ankle. I highly suggest standing on the edge of the stairs, etc, and just letting the weight sink into your heels.

dogchushu
Sep. 21, 2009, 08:44 PM
Repeating what others have said: you need to sink into your heels, not jam them down.

Make sure your achilles tendon is flexible. If you're like me and love high heels, you probably don't have one that's very flexible. Do lots of stair stretches. It may help to stretch out a bit before you ride.

Standing in your stirrups really helps the weight sink/drop into your heels without the need to jam. So does two point--at you can do that while the horse is trotting/cantering (unlike standing in stirrups). Do a lot of two point and just let the weight sink. Again, don't think 'push,' instead think 'sink' or 'drop.'

Finally, check that you haven't laced up your boots too tight or, if you have zipper front paddock boots, that they're not getting in the way of dropping your heels. I have a couple pair of paddock boots that no longer get used because they dig into the front of my leg when I drop my heels. Should have tested that when I bought them!

PS: Do the horse show! Pleasure isn't judged on whether your heels are down!

S1969
Sep. 21, 2009, 09:07 PM
Finally, check that you haven't laced up your boots too tight or, if you have zipper front paddock boots, that they're not getting in the way of dropping your heels. I have a couple pair of paddock boots that no longer get used because they dig into the front of my leg when I drop my heels. Should have tested that when I bought them!

PS: Do the horse show! Pleasure isn't judged on whether your heels are down!

Agreed! I never had this problem but I had a friend who started to ride as an adult and always struggled with heels down; then one day didn't lace up her boots tightly and voila!

My guess is, however, that you are inflexible as well, so you'll just really need to work on it out of the saddle. I agree with the concept that it won't be fixed immediately, and not by just working in the saddle.

I have extremely inflexible hips; I always assumed as much but taking a pilates class as an adult confirmed it -- I was the only person in about 35 women who could not do certain things (e.g. sit cross-legged!) Sometimes we just have conformational defects. I have been able to improve my flexibility, but it will never be what others have. That's ok, I have my strengths too.

Work on your weaknesses, but play up to your strengths. As others have said, pleasure classes aren't only judged on your heels. And have fun!!

ReSomething
Sep. 22, 2009, 12:49 AM
Just adding my 2 cents- I think "relax the ankle".
I've always been rather stiff and un-physical, but at one point in my life I was working out and stretching, long, deep stretches, and eventually I was able to actually wrap my finger around my toes! Alas, those days are long gone and I got the speech from one of my trainers about how she didn't expect her adult beginners to be able to get their heels down easily and therefore would not be making an issue out of it - I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or grateful.
Thirding go show anyway, as long as you want to and think you'll have fun.

fourmares
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:19 AM
try thinking of pushing your knee down. You can also put your foot into your sturrip backwards so that your heel is in the sturrip. Then post the trot for a couple of minutes. There is no way to do this without keeping weight on your heel. Then switch your sturrip back to the normal way.

equest
Sep. 22, 2009, 09:54 AM
Yes, two point will help. Yes, flexible stirrups might help, too. But for some of us, it just takes time and effort . . .


Actually, flexible stirrups do not always help, and in fact were terrible for my heel position.

Sure, they are comfortable, but the flex irons do not allow you to have the stable base to sink into your heel and keep your lower leg steady on the horse.

After using flex stirrups for six months, my leg position was actually weaker and now that I am back in traditional irons, I am finally getting my weight in my heel consistently and my lower leg is more stable. My trainer was glad to realize that the stirrups themselves were holding me back, and I was relieved.

Working in two-point is absolutely helpful, go around the ring at least twice in each direction, sinking deep into your heels, at the beginning of each ride.

RugBug
Sep. 22, 2009, 12:45 PM
If I physically shove my heels down my lower leg going flying infront of the girth.... Trying to use a different muscle to put toes up doesn't yield big result.

If your leg is flying forward, you are forcing your heel down and not doing it correctly. While you may never have heels that are extremely far down, you CAN achieve a 'heavy heel' and a correct leg.

First step is to stop making excuses. :winkgrin:
Second step is to make sure you are a flexible as you can be.
Third step is to practice correctly using a variety of methods. You need to work on your whole leg position, not just the heels. Thigh, knee, calf are just as important. There have been a lot of good suggestions here on what to do to actually get a correct leg. (Double posting to help thigh, two point/standing in stirrups to sink down and figure out balance, develop core strength, etc)

NanO
Sep. 22, 2009, 05:06 PM
I've always had the same problem, my new trainer fixed it for me!. Relax your leg, esp your knee. I'm the classic over achiever, I try so hard for perfection I mess myself up. Relax, don't fight yourself, tension ruins everything from position to balance.

tripony645
Sep. 22, 2009, 05:26 PM
when I was younger, I got in trouble for my heel being too far down.

Now that I'm more....mature...what my brain says is heels down isn't anymore.

One day, were were doing some jumping and my instructor yelled " YES, that's IT" only to realize that I had dropped my stirrup 4 fences prior. When I wasn't so worried about my heels and stirrups, and just my overall position, it all came together

Yep, lots of stirrup-less riding after that.

Maybe try NOT focusing on "heels down, heels down, heels down" but on what that MEANS in the over all balance.

also, I borrowed my instructors flex irons...heaven for me!! Can you borrow a set and see if it helps?

I hope you find something among all these posts that help!! (little bit here, little bit there...)



Some folks just CAN'T be picture perfect. We more mature types have scars, pins, and all sorts of mileage that may hinder the perfect form. (I carry a hardware store in my legs at this point and my one ankle just doesn't go there anymore) If you can't do it, and you're REALLY TRIED, then press on and enjoy the ride for what you CAN do!!!

superpony123
Sep. 22, 2009, 05:43 PM
Sure, they are comfortable, but the flex irons do not allow you to have the stable base to sink into your heel and keep your lower leg steady on the horse.


not necessarily :) i can not physically keep my heels down without them, because i get very bad pain in my ankles and knees without them, and it causes me to perch, pinch with knees, and heels won't go down. that's just me though. but i just mean that it would be hard to objectively say flex/nonflex stirrups are a culprit. i have great heels, i'm pretty flexible, but only if i'm not in pain :)

OP- try some stair stretches. stand on ball of foot on the edge of a step (make sure you hold onto railing just in case!) and sink down into heels a little bit so theyre about level with ball of foot, and rise up onto ball of foot so heel is in the air.

pilates and yoga are also very helpful for flexibility overall.

do you take any vitamins? chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM are very helpful in improving flexability and overall joint mobility/comfort. they're important to have in your diet especially when you play fairly strenuous sports like riding that involve a lot of mobility and can take a real toll on your joints. pop into your local GNC/vitamin shop and see what they have to offer. if you've got any little aches in pains, for example in your shoulders or knees, it should help out with that too and help to prevent more ouchies in the future.

chelsealaurenmurphy
Sep. 22, 2009, 06:32 PM
i have the same problem. i'm going to work on the stair exercises but my main problem is that i put so much tension and pressure on to the balls of my feet. i post and go into two point using the balls of my feet, rather than my thighs/core. i try really hard not to but then i end up tensing up worse when i think about it and it is verrrry uncomfortable. anyone know how to solve this? (lots of stirrup-less riding is soon to come, btw)

RolyPolyPony
Sep. 22, 2009, 09:06 PM
I have a lot of trouble w/ this too, thanks to poor ankle flexibility. In tonight's lesson my instructor said something that really helped - she told me to think about opening up my knee angle. For whatever reason. this clicked, and my heels went down. Ok, not much because the flexibility isn't there yet, but it was noticeable. Now if I could just keep thinking that, as well as the 9000 other things I need to work on ;)

tripony645
Sep. 23, 2009, 01:12 AM
YAY! Whatever gets you there, you GO!!:D

lynz
Sep. 27, 2009, 11:06 AM
I have huge issues with sinking my heels - I can ride with my weight in my heels but they won't necessarily be down. If I do sink my heels, it doesn't take long before my ankles absolutely kill and I feel completely crippled - especially when I think about pointing my toe straight so I can keep my spur off my horse. Sometimes I think it is our own conformation that can lead to such issues because I know of people who can keep their heels down and toes straighter and have no pain issues. But, me being me, I don't like to blame things that I can't really do on how I'm built.