It’s undeniable - we’re definitely facing some surreal times right now. While writing last month’s blog post, COVID-19 was a distant worry in my mind, and in just a month it has exploded into a global pandemic affecting almost every country in the world. As this virus continues to spread, staying at home the next few weeks will be very important to flatten the curve globally. While it’s important, we know the prospect of being cooped up for any prolonged period of time can seem overwhelming and a little scary, especially for horse people. If you’re like us, you’re feeling a bit lost without being able to ride your horse--but rather than letting isolation get you down, why not instead try and embrace it as an opportunity to become more flexible or get your sweat on with new at-home workouts? This month, we’ve partnered up with fitness coach, Nardine Oakes from The Strong Rider to compile a list of daily at-home, equestrian-tailored stretches, and exercises that you can do to stay fit and healthy while you ride this out at home.
Psst! There also might be a couple of surprise gifts hiding in the text, so make sure you read carefully!
Make a Plan and Stick to It
It’s easy to prioritize work/school commitments, cooking, or house cleaning, but creating a workout schedule for the week is a great way to be motivated and stay on track. If you’re having a really hard time finding the motivation, find a barn buddy to hold you accountable and do a group workout over Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.
Stretch it Out
Stretching is essential because it helps us maintain muscle flexibility and reduce stiffness, which can come in handy when you spend every evening on the couch binge-watching Netflix.
Due to an increased amount of time spent sitting, whether it’s studying at a desk, working from home, or the increased Netflix time; Nardine recommends more focus on the hip flexors, lower and upper back, and shoulders, as these are areas we'll be finding more stiffness. Start slow and expect to feel tension while you stretch, but not pain. Hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds for most areas, and 60 seconds for problem areas.
"You also might be out walking or doing activities that you aren’t used to doing regularly, so the important thing is to listen to your body and what is feeling tight, and then stretch that - we want to stay on top of the tightness so that it doesn’t lead to an injury". For any areas that are feeling especially stiff right now, Purvida Healthy Horse’s Roll-On Relief Liniment is the perfect tool to use before stretching to allow your muscles to reset to their natural resting length without experiencing any pain. 100% drug-free, natural, and approved for use on humans, this roll-on bottle is scientifically proven to reduce pain and inflammation in your muscles and tendons, and stretching after application is the perfect way to maximize its effectiveness! Give it a try today and get 30% OFF using the code STRETCHITOUT (offer expires April 15, 2020. Valid for ONE Roll-On Relief Liniment per customer.) Click the picture below to learn more and shop now!
Nardine’s Top Stretches for Equestrians are:*Starting from the bottom and working your way up*
- Wall Calf Stretch
- Pigeon Stretch
- Couch Stretch
- Butterfly stretch
- Hamstring Wall Stretch
- Back Cross over
- Childs Pose - Front and both side
- Pec Stretch - Door Frame
Get your Heart Rate Up
Every little bit counts towards an easier transition back into the saddle when all this is over. Get that blood pumping by doing the stairs, or even just by going for a 15-minute walk outside. Let’s hear what Nardine has to say about keeping our riding muscles in shape while we’re out of the saddle:
“The key is not to go from zero to 100 in the first session, I see this so many times and the result is people who can barely move or walk and then they are put off trying it again.
I like to use work-based workouts because then you can go as fast or as slow as you want and do as many reps as you can within the time frame.
As riders, it’s important for us to be able to repeat what we do without fatigue, whether that’s as an eventer competing in 3 events, a dressage rider completing multiple tests, or a Hunter or Jumper doing multiple rounds on, potentially, multiple horses. This is the main area where I see riders struggle and where fatigue kicks in; when we are tired and unfit, our ability to think and react lessens, which can be costly for riders.
My go-to circuits are a mix of short and long work durations. I typically stick to a high-intensity circuit of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and go up to 60 seconds on, 30 seconds off".
These are some of Nardine's favourite exercises for riders, as they work a lot of the same muscle groups that we use while in the saddle:
- Standing Row/Seated Row
The standing horizontal row is a weight training exercise performed by standing and holding dumbells straight out in front of you and then rowing them towards your ribcage. The exercize can also be completed with the same movement sitting down.
- Romainian Deadlifts
A form of deadlift in which the body is bent at the hips and the knees are not bent. This exercise is amazing for the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings
- Modified Squat - Toes Raised
- Squat 1 1/2
This is the same as a regular squat, but by applying the 1, 1/2 rule means, basically, you take an exercise and “extend” the set by incorporating a “1/2 rep” in between full-ROM reps.
- Plank with Shoulder Taps
- Side Plank with Leg Raise
Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this month's blog post! Have a great equestrian-related exercise we missed or some interesting ways to stay entertained at home? Drop us a comment!
Learn More About The Strong Rider
The Strong Rider was created through a passion of Owner and Founder Nardine Oakes’s desire to see a better balance between what we do for our horses to make them physically fit and healthy, and what we do for ourselves as riders to be physically fit and healthy. Nardine has a bachelor of Physical Education from New Zealand and has been a strength and conditioning coach for 17 years. Nardine has worked with athletes from an amateur level through to the Olympic level. The Strong Rider’s goal is to educate the Equine community of the benefits of fitness training in correlation to riding abilities, and to create confidence in riders and to allow for longevity in the sport with a focus on fun.
The Strong Rider has 5 different Components
Rider Audit - Riders are taken through a full mobility assessment looking at the ankle, hips and shoulders and how they work together and in isolation. Nardine then assesses the rider on their mount, identifying any correlations between the two assessments.
Clinics - Nardine runs clinics where the focus is on education around mobility and its effects on riding as well as the benefits of strength and fitness training for your riding performance
One on One Training - Nardine works with Individuals on their strength and fitness goals, that can be at your home or the barn
Group training - show teams and keen amateur riders, Nardine runs sessions at the barn so you can motivate each other with the support of a qualified coach
Online Training - There are two different packages, one is a generic base program and the other is an individualized program based on your goals, needs, injuries, availability, etc.
To learn more visit her Instagram account @the.strong.rider