Tag Archives: yoga

Is Your Horse Holding Tension Patterns?

Fascia surrounds, supports, and penetrates all of the muscles, bones, and organs throughout the body. This net of fascia is the body’s internal system of flexible support, and gives strength and shape to the body. The fascial system responds to injury, chronic tension, and habitual movement patterns by shortening and thickening, thereby locking in unhealthy patterns of strain, and pulling the body out of alignment.

Structural Integration works systematically to release areas of tension and restore flexibility in the body. It literally changes the shape of the body, sometimes quite dramatically. While working on a horse I often will step back, and every time I am amazed at the visual change in the outline of the horse. The back comes up; the neck rises out of the withers gracefully; the horse stands more balanced. It is one of the reasons I am so passionate about this work.

After a session of structural integration, the body should feel lighter, energized, and balanced. Breathing capacity will be greater, range of motion will increase along with ease and fluidity of movement, and the body will be more resilient to injury.

Dr. Rolf, the founder of Rolfing, or Structural Integration,  believed yoga was the best exercise system ever devised if done with the right teacher. She also believed that hands-on manipulation was needed to fully free the structure and to achieve ultimate length and separation in the joints.

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Back Pain in Riders

Low back pain is probably the most common complaint in the United States. Studies suggest that 4 out of 5 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Riding, with the frequency of falls, the position, the jarring motion, only hikes up that statistic.

Many people with back pain have been told it is due to a slipped, or herniated disk. Surprisingly however, most back pain is caused by weak muscles, asymmetry, poor posture, and being overweight. Stress and tension can also contribute to back pain.

Rolfing, also known as myofascial release, can change posture and eliminate pain.

In Chinese medicine back pain is believed to be caused by a block in the bladder meridian. Acupressure, reflexology, shiatsu,and acupuncture can be very effective for curing pain. Yoga has many postures (like side plank) that can strengthen postural muscles. Swimming is good exercise, as it supports body weight while strengthening important core muscles.

Cold laser can reduce or eliminate pain, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation.

What Happens to Posture?

Muscles that are held in shorter or longer positions than ideal for extended periods of time produce permanent changes in posture (unless reversed with very specific body work). Muscles that stay in a tight, contracted position lose the ability to stretch. Muscles held in a lengthened position develop extra muscle fibers, or sarcomeres. Both of these deviations are unhealthy for posture and affect the ability of the muscle to withstand tension.

A further complication of incorrect posture is that short and tight muscles on one side create long and overextended muscles on the opposite side. This is true for both two-legged and 4-legged bodies. Stretching and yoga can be somewhat helpful, but until the muscles are balanced by manually releasing the actual fibers, the body will be involved in a struggle to regain equilibrium.

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