I am very passionate about watching rider and horse combination and developing specific program's designed for the individual and their riding. Every rider will have their quirky posture in the saddle and assessment is always advisable but a common area in need of improvement is the lower leg. Many riders arrive to the studio with knee and ankle issues and often look fluidy around their lower leg joints. As a rider you are asking the body to maintain leg alignment whilst in an extreme stretch of the calf and Achilles. On top of that you would like the calfs active on the horse, when required without gripping of the knees however a good flexion of the knee which you are maintaining for long periods of time. Let's add load, balance, subtle eversion of the feet when spur assistance is required, dynamic and consistent propulsion to those joints + a horse that may need more attention from you on his/her right or left side. Whoooooo no wonder feet, ankles, calfs and knees scream HELP!!!!!! So below some simple things you can begin with.
1. A ball under you feet and massage your feet with the ball. When you find the areas that are obviously tight spend extra time in that area of the foot.
2. Take your foot into both ranges of flexion and extension, point and flex the foot. It is important to keep the navicular joint mobile. Treat yourself to a good calf and foot massage, I am sure your horses are well looked after with diet, chiropractic work, farrier and dentist so it is important your body is also well maintained.
4. Roll your ITB (iliotibial band) and fascia out with a roller.
5. Ankle and calf strengthening with calf raises, start with 10, feet together and build up to single leg calf raises.
6. Femur circles (refer to video) to assist with the alignment of your thigh in the hip socket.
7. Hip flexor stretch (refer to video) to counter balance the constant hip flexion you are in when in the saddle.
Begin doing these simple exercises every 2nd day and if you can incorporate it into the daily routine that would be awesome but even as little as once a week you will begin to feel different.