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  1. #1
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    Default Low-impact exercises for getting fit to ride again?

    I'm currently hunting for a place to take dressage lessons (or possibly eventing, as long as the dressage instruction is good) and since it's been a long time since I rode regularly, I figure I should start trying to get myself into shape a bit. (Part of the reason for starting lessons again is that I have trouble motivating myself TO exercise because of arthritis, so I'm hoping that if at least one of my activities is something I really enjoy, I'll get out and do more.)

    Anyway, due to the aforementioned arthritis, even walking on pavement can be too high-impact for me some days (I think I need better shoes) so although we have a lot of hills and stairs around, so I can get quite a good work out that way, I need alternatives also.

    Anyone have any ideas? I do have a gym membership and I think I can get access to a pool (depends on when they're running kids camps - it's at a YMCA) but in the past sometimes swimming has also been pretty hard on my joints. (I know, weird. I think it's the water temperature and something about the amount of resistance - it felt like it was encouraging my ankles to hyper-extend when I'd kick. Very weird.)



  2. #2
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    Feb. 5, 2010
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    Swimming is about as low impact as you can get, I think. One other thing you might want to seriously think about it Yoga. Yoga is good for arthritis. It increases flexibility which leads to getting your muscles get stronger.

    I would talk to your doctor about starting with Yoga and then maybe progressing into some lower-impact exercising. I have joint issues and this is what I did. Just make sure you go to an instructor that understands individual flexibility. Suprisingly this can be not as easy as it sounds. Look for gentle or "special needs" classes.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by onthehill View Post
    Swimming is about as low impact as you can get, I think. One other thing you might want to seriously think about it Yoga. Yoga is good for arthritis. It increases flexibility which leads to getting your muscles get stronger.

    I would talk to your doctor about starting with Yoga and then maybe progressing into some lower-impact exercising. I have joint issues and this is what I did. Just make sure you go to an instructor that understands individual flexibility. Suprisingly this can be not as easy as it sounds. Look for gentle or "special needs" classes.
    I was wondering about trying swimming with some cheap ankle brace things on to help support the joints. (You know, those things that are basically tubes of elastic that you can get at just about every drugstore.)

    Part of my problem is that I'm actually hypermobile - a lot of my joints have much more range of movement naturally than they should - so I've been told to be careful about what kind of stretching exercises I do. Looking for someone who does "special needs" stuff might be a good idea - hopefully they'd be better able to help me figure out if I'm targeting the expected area with a stretch.

    (As an example, when I lived in the UK they actually sent me to a PT for the arthritis in my lower back, and it took her about fifteen minutes to find a lower back stretch for me that actually STRETCHED my lower back, because the various joints around my lower back have so much ROM that instead of hitting the end of the range of movement and transferring the stretch to my lower back, they'd just go 'okay, more stretching!' and my lower back would stay just as it was.) (The stretch I ended up with basically also includes a leg position that stretches the hip area, so it takes up some of the 'slack' in those joints so the stretch does get transferred to the lower back.) (I wish I could afford to take myself to a PT in the US.)



  4. #4
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    Sep. 16, 2008
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    Lexington Ky
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    Default

    kdow
    I have those issues too. I am hypermobile which has lead to arthritis. Have you looked at the thread on coth /riders with disabilities...there is an EDS thread.
    best wishes
    leslie



  5. #5
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    Jul. 25, 2003
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    Boston Area
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdow View Post
    I was wondering about trying swimming with some cheap ankle brace things on to help support the joints. (You know, those things that are basically tubes of elastic that you can get at just about every drugstore.)
    I wouldn't recommend swimming with an ankle brace because you want your feet to be able to flex. Otherwise it's like swimming and pulling two weights behind you! Certainly not for freestyle of backstroke, not such a problem with breast stroke.

    Swimming is a great low impact sport but many peole don't swim correctly. I few lessons with a good instructor might help as swimming is all about technique.

    I'm a swimmer that is recovering from a rotator cuff injury (not from swimming) and my coach was able to adjust my stroke/recovery so that I don't have any pain.

    Yoga or pilates would be another suggestion.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogie View Post
    I wouldn't recommend swimming with an ankle brace because you want your feet to be able to flex. Otherwise it's like swimming and pulling two weights behind you! Certainly not for freestyle of backstroke, not such a problem with breast stroke.
    I was thinking of those stretch braces that don't really prevent bending and flexing, but might give some support against over-extension in the ankle.

    (What I mean is - I was taught to point my toes when I kick, and it's like the water resistance against the top of my foot tries to bend my foot even more in that direction - opposite the way we flex our ankles for riding - and that makes my ankles hurt.)

    I'm sure I have horrible form swimming anyway, though, because I have a phobia of putting my head under water if I can't hold my nose. (I blame a really bad swim instructor when I was 4.) So mostly I do my own weird modified versions of things so I can keep my head out of the water. (I keep wanting to try nose clips, but I need to find some that are definitely latex free, and they don't all say what they're made out of on the packaging.)

    I tried one of those water aerobics type classes but it was kind of, well, boring. I much prefer actual swimming, even in my own weird form.



  7. #7
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    Sep. 12, 2004
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    If you're already hypermobile I'd recommend against yoga - you're already too flexible. My PT told me YEARS ago to quit the yoga or risk some serious arthritis (I could put my feet up in back of my head).

    Pilates is GREAT for riding, and zero impact. It will really tighten up your core if you work at it, and that help your seat tremendously. At least it does mine.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tollertwins View Post
    If you're already hypermobile I'd recommend against yoga - you're already too flexible. My PT told me YEARS ago to quit the yoga or risk some serious arthritis (I could put my feet up in back of my head).
    Yeah, I used to be able to do that.

    Pilates is GREAT for riding, and zero impact. It will really tighten up your core if you work at it, and that help your seat tremendously. At least it does mine.
    Someone who used to do ballet recommended Pilates to me also. I'll have to see if there are any classes that I could get to easily enough to actually GO regularly. (I know they offer one for partial credit at the college I go to, but we have a large population of dance majors and I'm convinced it'd be full of them and completely out of my league. )



  9. #9
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    May. 4, 2006
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    Don't talk yourself out of something that you already know is going to be difficult. I know because I suffer from arthritis and am demotivated to exercise, becomes a cyclic thing because then I hurt more if I don't, and more if I do the wrong thing. I know you know this. Pilates has beginner levels, which is what they would start you with anyway.

    Good luck, I am going to join you soon in the first level.
    "When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters, one represents danger, the other represents opportunity."

    John F Kennedy



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calamber View Post
    Don't talk yourself out of something that you already know is going to be difficult. I know because I suffer from arthritis and am demotivated to exercise, becomes a cyclic thing because then I hurt more if I don't, and more if I do the wrong thing. I know you know this. Pilates has beginner levels, which is what they would start you with anyway.

    Good luck, I am going to join you soon in the first level.
    That's what I'm working on now. I keep talking myself out of taking lessons again because I feel so much more breakable now, even though I had arthritis when I last rode, also. I guess I'm just more aware of it now because it's worse?

    At the same time, I know for a fact that if I'm doing something I enjoy doing, I really don't think that much about the pain or possible pain, and often ultimately I end up hurting a lot less than I expected to because the exercise itself is reasonably good for arthritis.

    (Except high-impact exercise. My knees and ankles never fail to let me know in DETAIL about that. )



  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    May. 7, 2004
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    Default

    I'd add kettlebell swings to your list. I work with these guys, but having one or two kettlebells at home is pretty darn affordable.
    Quote Originally Posted by HuntrJumpr
    No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.



  13. #13
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    May. 9, 2008
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    kdow, can you schedule a consult/session with a PT or maybe the trainer at your Gym? You can save yourself time, money and a bunch of pain
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.



  14. #14
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    Sep. 12, 2004
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    Default

    stott pilates has a VERY good, and extensive, library of home use pilates DVD's.

    i have a number of them - haven't had a bad one yet.

    and some of the ones using relatively simple props like big exercise balls or stretch bands are HARD!



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 13, 2006
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    921

    Default Strengthening first!

    Part of symptoms you describe are due to muscle fatigue. IME, folks with multijoint hypermobility (Erlos-Danlos or some other condition) are treated with strengthening first. Then you can better tolerate aerobic conditioning.

    Pittsburg has a great sports medicine system. If you are looking for suggestions, let me know and I'll forward you the name of a contact.

    REgards,
    Medical Mike
    equestrian medical researcher
    www.equicision.com



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by medical mike View Post
    Part of symptoms you describe are due to muscle fatigue. IME, folks with multijoint hypermobility (Erlos-Danlos or some other condition) are treated with strengthening first. Then you can better tolerate aerobic conditioning.
    That's actually kind of good to hear - my body takes to strengthening activities pretty well in general, so it's more satisfying to do them than a bunch of aerobic stuff, normally.

    Though I haven't been diagnosed with anything that, as I understand it, would specifically cause the hypermobility. I have psoriatic arthritis and when that was diagnosed they just kind of went 'oh, yeah, and you're probably hypermobile also, let's check... Yup!' so I'm not clear on if that's also a product of the arthritis, or if the hypermobility is a separate thing that makes it more likely you'll develop the arthritis, or what.

    Anyway, I'll send you a PM.



  17. #17
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    Apr. 27, 2008
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    2,442

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    Yes -- a pilates ring. This is one at Amazon, but I found something similar at my local Target for the same price (less than $20).

    It's light weight. You can do as much or as little as you want with it. You can exercise many muscle groups with just the one piece of equipment. Once you start squeezing and pulling on it, you can think of endless exercises to do with it. You can access all sorts of hard-to-exercise muscles.

    I think it's a really neat find.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2007
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    645

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    Quote Originally Posted by kdow View Post
    I was thinking of those stretch braces that don't really prevent bending and flexing, but might give some support against over-extension in the ankle.

    (What I mean is - I was taught to point my toes when I kick, and it's like the water resistance against the top of my foot tries to bend my foot even more in that direction - opposite the way we flex our ankles for riding - and that makes my ankles hurt.)

    I'm sure I have horrible form swimming anyway, though, because I have a phobia of putting my head under water if I can't hold my nose. (I blame a really bad swim instructor when I was 4.) So mostly I do my own weird modified versions of things so I can keep my head out of the water. (I keep wanting to try nose clips, but I need to find some that are definitely latex free, and they don't all say what they're made out of on the packaging.)

    I tried one of those water aerobics type classes but it was kind of, well, boring. I much prefer actual swimming, even in my own weird form.
    Get a mask and snorkel and use them for both the crawl stroke and the breast stroke. When I was swimming as part of my rehab after back surgery they had me use the mask and snorkel so that I could keep my spine nicely aligned and not hyperextend my neck to get/keep my head out of the water. Plus, being able to breath the whole time made the swimming that much easier.



  19. #19
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    Oct. 18, 2000
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    Connecticut
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    I am a swimmer and rider, recovering from a displaced patella. My suggestion: water walking. Low impact, with enough resitance to build strength without hurting your joints. Walking through waist-high level water for 30 minutes or more will do the job. If you are comfortable in deep water, you can also walk there. There are flotation belts available to help you keep your posture in deep water while working the walking technique if you feel that would help. I don't use one, but have been doing this for decades. You could also add in some gentle kicking with a kick board if that wouldn't harm your joints, or swim just using your arms to build up strength. At this point, I have to mix things up (water walk a few laps, swim a few laps, do some gentle kicking, and back to water walking.) Check with your gym to see if they have classes you might enjoy. For waist-level water walking you wouldn't need any special equipment. They may also have a jazz watercise class that wuld be fun and build your strength and stamina painlessly.



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