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View Full Version : Suggestions to strengthen MY left side?



pattir7
May. 20, 2012, 10:50 AM
Hi All,

A little background. I had been 'out of the saddle' since October 2010 when my horse died.. :( It took me over a year behind a desk to save the money to buy another. So, all core strength disappeared. :( And, in that time, I developed some real issue in my right hip. Riding for the last few months begins in a whole lot of pain on my right side.. so I had been forced to 'compensate' using my left side more. I have always been a right sided rider.. before I had any issue.

So, I started taking a real joint supplement... figuring I had always done this for my horse.. but not for me! I had nothing to lose but the $ and it just MAY help. Well, 3 weeks later, my hip is feeling pretty darned good! Yay! :) However.. the bad news is.. I am back to using my right side almost exclusively.. :( To the point where if/when I lose the left stirrup, it barely affects me.

So.. I'm open to suggestions for how to force me to build that left side and use it more effectively. I thought I'd purposely lower the right stirrup one hole so I couldn't depend on it as much.. but my trainer says it will just make me ride crooked. She suggested riding with NO stirrup on the right side. However, that means I won't be trotting at all.. cause the left side is just not going to be able to 'do it all'... like the right side can.

Anyone have any ideas for how to gently build up that left side? While I am aware of it and TRY to weight the left as much as I can.. thinking about it just doesn't work... I inevitably end up losing that stirrup, having to stop and get it.. and starting again.

Beentheredonethat
May. 20, 2012, 02:35 PM
One little suggestion is to hold a whip in your left hand. I broke my right wrist once and had to hold the whip left handed and it really evened me out.

I would also suggest yoga and pilates. You have NO idea how uneven you are until you take those classes and see how completely fine you are on one side and incapable on the other. I'm almost liking pilates more right now because it's seems you're doing so little, but I come away so tired and really sore in places I never thought I had. I don't know where you are, but 24 hour fitness has a deal of about $15 a month for one site if another "family" is already a member for all use and they have those classes.

pattir7
May. 22, 2012, 06:42 PM
Any other ideas? ...preferably ones that don't cost $$.. ;)

AllWeatherGal
May. 25, 2012, 08:25 AM
Hi All,

>>So.. I'm open to suggestions for how to force me to build that left side and use it more effectively. <<


Constant feedback from your trainer to lower your shoulder, move your seat, put more weight in ... some time on the longe line with no reins (but keeping the stirrups).


Hi All,
>>thinking about it just doesn't work... I inevitably end up losing that stirrup, having to stop and get it.. and starting again.
<<

Not immediately, but it'll get better.

Exercises that I've been working on include balancing on one leg ... do it in front of a mirror and watch what happens to your hips. Try to keep them square. Then, when you can hold the one-foot stance, do it with your eyes closed. Work towards 30 seconds with each leg. Breathe and pay attention to your body's alignment, which you should have become familiar with watching in the mirror.

It's difficult to fix our body alignment without spending any money. Mind over matter usually benefits from the participation of an outside eye.

You may also want to try a "fit sit" for work. It's instability makes it difficult to sit crooked and that'll help you know where your hips should be.

You're not the only one who finds this challenge ... persevere with patience.

nhwr
May. 25, 2012, 11:12 AM
I had an undiagnosed pelvic downslip for about 15 years that resulted in my back and abs being quite a bit stronger (dominant really) the left side. Doing things that required bilateral participation and co-ordination were not very helpful to fix this. Constant feedback from trainer, yoga, pilates work for years didn't do much because whenever I pushed it hard, my left side would just take over and compensate. I didn't think too much about it until I had a spinal x-ray as part of a bone density exam and could see that my spine actually pulls to the left :eek:

I started to do things outside of my riding to focus on this. For example; at the gym I do the tree pose standing on my right leg and do overhead triceps extensions with 12-15 lb weights (worked up to that slowly) 3 or 4 sets 20 reps each. I think about my "lead" all the time' ie instead of using my left leg first or preferentially and automatically, I use my right leg consciously. On the treadmill, I try to length my stride when my right leg is coming forward, going up stairs I start up with my right leg, going down I start with my left (so the right side is doing the lifting and lowering work). Stuff like that. I am always thinking about loading might right side. Can you tell I am little obsessed with this? :lol:

Just like with horses, my crookedness was from weakness. This is the only thing that has worked to straighten me out. I saw results within about a month but I have to keep with it or the "muscle memory" in my left side takes over.

beckzert
May. 25, 2012, 03:21 PM
Any other ideas? ...preferably ones that don't cost $$.. ;)

I know you don't want to spend money, but Alexander Technique would be perfect for you. It's basically lessons on how to sit and stand and do other things while using yourself properly (kind of like dressage for humans). Lessons usually cost around what the average riding lesson in your area costs.

If you don't want to go that route, I would get some yoga and pilates DVDs. You can usually find them second hand for not much money. Just put a mirror next to your mat so you can check your form.

I would also try to find a Ballimo chair. My friend has one and it's really awesome. It's like a stool where the seat is connected with a loose joint that allows it to swivel freely. It's great for showing where your hips are tight or weak, and moving back and forth on it is great for strengthening all the riding muscles. I believe it was developed by Eckart Meyners.

pattir7
May. 25, 2012, 10:22 PM
Thanks for the suggestions all! Keep 'em coming.. I am taking notes!

Had a really good ride today.. I really can't get over how good my right hip feels now.. as it was so painful just over a month ago.. and all that has changed is taking a joint supplement. I was skeptical.. but I'm a believer now...

Today's focus was sit up straight.. this never used to be a problem before the year behind the desk.. but apparently, it is now.. :( I had other 'problems' before.. but constant vertical position was kind of a strong point for me. Not now. Sooo.. believe it or not, just focusing on that helped some with my right side-edness. It was still there today.. just not as frustrating...

With as painful as my hip was, I was questioning if I'd be able to get back to where I was when my horse died. I am now, at least, hopeful.. :)

Go Fish
May. 25, 2012, 10:55 PM
She suggested riding with NO stirrup on the right side. However, that means I won't be trotting at all.. cause the left side is just not going to be able to 'do it all'... like the right side can.



You're trainer's right and you should try, even if it takes time.

I watched a Greg Best clinic once where he had the riders do an exercise for crookedness in the saddle.

He had everyone remove their stirrups leathers. You buckle them end to end so you have a big loop with the stirrups attached. You then loop the whole thing OVER your saddle, behind the pommel. Take up your stirrups and ride like that. It forces you to balance evenly or you'll end up falling off towards your strong side. It was very effective and I witnessed huge improvement in all the riders' straightness by the end of the clinic.

Darden19
May. 26, 2012, 02:45 PM
I absolutely second the Greg Best stirrup thing! It's brilliant.

Manahmanah
May. 26, 2012, 07:09 PM
I was having hip issues, HUGE hip issues, to the point where it would hurt just getting out of bed until i limbered up (i would limp around like an old lady for 10 minutes, i am 30 ish).... i worked on a arabian farm as sole charge of 15 horses, mucking, feeding, and working (mostly lunging) 5 or more horses a day. Would be mostly fine throughout the day once i got moving, but on the end of those 12 hour days.... after sitting in my car for 30 minutes on the way home i could barely walk up the driveway.

A friend finally convinced me to go to a chriro - i was dead set against them.... quacks... etc. I broke down and went to the best one in our little town and when i got off the table it was like i was a new woman.

I even woke up the next day and did my normal "T-Rex with a broken leg" walk to the bathroom until I realized that i could stand straight up without pain!

My hip was out, my SI was out, several discs misaligned, etc. It took a lot of work to improve to the point where i was without daily pain but it did happen, and my riding really improved because of it!

Anyway. To sum it up - if you haven't seen a chiro yet, do so!

stryder
May. 26, 2012, 10:46 PM
I recently had a hip replaced. Before and since, I've spent a lot of time with an excellent physical therapist. Lots of muscles on my right side weren't firing at all, and I was very one-sided.

One of the most effective exercises for me requires an exercise ball. On the floor, lay on your back, legs over the ball, with the ball close to your butt. Your kneecaps should be pointed nearly straight up, with about a foot space between them.

Engage your lower abs. Next engage your glutes and lift your pelvis straight up. At first you may be only able to lift a couple inches. It's important to keep your pelvis level. As you get stronger hold the lift for 5 seconds, then lower. Do 8-10 of these, 3 reps. Again, form is everything.

Next bring one leg to the center of the ball. Bring the other leg across, crossing at the ankle. Repeat as above. Then cross the other leg and repeat.

As you get stronger you can move the ball further away until it's under your ankles instead of your knees.

But pay close attention to your position and form. Keep your pelvis parallel to the floor. At first for greater stability you can put your arms out straight, with your hands about a foot from your sides.

Good luck!

nhwr
May. 26, 2012, 10:50 PM
ooooo stryder I can't wait to try that one :lol:

pattir7
May. 26, 2012, 10:54 PM
You're trainer's right and you should try, even if it takes time.

I watched a Greg Best clinic once where he had the riders do an exercise for crookedness in the saddle.

He had everyone remove their stirrups leathers. You buckle them end to end so you have a big loop with the stirrups attached. You then loop the whole thing OVER your saddle, behind the pommel. Take up your stirrups and ride like that. It forces you to balance evenly or you'll end up falling off towards your strong side. It was very effective and I witnessed huge improvement in all the riders' straightness by the end of the clinic.

When I first read this, I didn't understand what you were suggesting.. I thought about it.. and just now re-read it.. and the light went off! Now I get it! And yes, that is brilliant... but wow, I can envision myself on the ground with that one. ;) But that would surely force the issue....

pattir7
May. 26, 2012, 10:57 PM
I was having hip issues, HUGE hip issues, to the point where it would hurt just getting out of bed until i limbered up (i would limp around like an old lady for 10 minutes, i am 30 ish).... i worked on a arabian farm as sole charge of 15 horses, mucking, feeding, and working (mostly lunging) 5 or more horses a day. Would be mostly fine throughout the day once i got moving, but on the end of those 12 hour days.... after sitting in my car for 30 minutes on the way home i could barely walk up the driveway.

A friend finally convinced me to go to a chriro - i was dead set against them.... quacks... etc. I broke down and went to the best one in our little town and when i got off the table it was like i was a new woman.

I even woke up the next day and did my normal "T-Rex with a broken leg" walk to the bathroom until I realized that i could stand straight up without pain!

My hip was out, my SI was out, several discs misaligned, etc. It took a lot of work to improve to the point where i was without daily pain but it did happen, and my riding really improved because of it!

Anyway. To sum it up - if you haven't seen a chiro yet, do so!

I think a chiro would have a 'good time' with me. Thing is, I went to one years ago.. when I wrenched something in my lower back.. bending over to tie a shoe.. sigh. Could barely stand up. Came out of the office just as crippled.. and quite a bit poorer...:( There are chiro's and there are chiro's.. I'd need to find a good one.. and just not sure how. My hip and my neck are 'trouble zones'...

stryder
May. 26, 2012, 11:26 PM
ooooo stryder I can't wait to try that one :lol:

It's a good one! First time I tried, I nearly rolled off to one side. It isolates one side at a time.

snbess
May. 27, 2012, 08:52 AM
I add to the suggestion for pilates and/or yoga. If you don't want to spend money on classes, go to the library and check out dvds. I was doing yoga quite a bit last fall and felt great in the saddle. My priorities changed over winter (to more swimming) and I dropped my yoga class. I can feel the difference not only in the saddle, but in the pool. I'll be starting pilates videos...this weekend.