Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Pearl snap shirts connect with snaps. When you think about the word 'neck' think also of the word con"NECK"ted. We've been fearfully and wonderfully made to house indescribably intricate layers of bones, muscles, soft tissue, nerves and veins. The anatomy in our neck literally connects to everything. Our vision, our jaw mobility, our postural strength, down clear to our hips and feet can all be correlated back to specific places in the cervical spine. Stay conNECKted to your body!
How to do:
1. From campfire, ground down & reach up
2. Evenly seat bottom on ground
3. Lift out of the hip past top of the head
4.Gently arch head down, & arms around
Isolate and force head down
Move quickly w/o a pausing breath
Forget to support upper body
Breath into all spaces between ribs
This combination arm/neck stretch can be carefully done to serve circulating the vast and intricate structures of our upper-body. Releasing lateral tension down the side of our body can help mobilize the ribs and spine, low back and hips. The side body can house so much undetected tension since we rely on it to stop and turn our horse. The repetitive movements of forcefully trying to maneuver our horses, can lock up muscles and fascia that should normally glide along smoothly. We can't really see these muscles, but we definitely feel them and definitely use them! This brings us to the reminder to keep 'scanning' our body for tension/pain/lack of mobility/asymmetry/alignment. Since the ribs/side body takes up half our body, there is a good chance that many of these trouble spots could be present. Much of our posture, balance, mobility and stabilization comes from our torso/core and side body. Adding in this stretch is essential for riders.
Ride and Apply:
This posture helps mobilize what sometimes freezes when we ride. Occasionally our riding technique or the task at hand leaves us no choice to be so stable, we have to momentarily freeze. Just look at all the pictures from a turn around the barrels - teeth grit, neck tensed, head laser focused. There really isn’t another sport like ours that requires this type of position. But the fact is that a barrel turn is only about one whole second long, and the rest of what we practice is not static, but dynamic. In addition to what our neck and arms need to accommodate or counteract when riding, is the fierce obsession and devotion we have to our phones/technology. So, paired with riding a trot, looking down at a phone, looking down at our horse, looking down where we are going - we are putting over 60 pounds of pressure on our cervical spine that is pencil thin. We also don’t consider the strain this puts on our horses ability to be proprioceptive and balance us on his back. But with a sensation of 60 extra pounds being recklessly heaved and tossed around it, would naturally be very difficult.
In the saddle, try to take a video of basic movements on the horse to making practice runs. Watch your head, neck and shoulders. Do they slump and slouch? Do they look down the majority of the time? This is probably the top habit that I believe riders could and should change, to immediately affect their horsemanship and long term riding ability. Try riding with a song playing, Pick a word or chorus of the song and every time you hear it, let it be the thing that activates your focus UPWARD and not down in a “text neck” position.
I would really encourage you to look at an anatomy poster next time you are in the chiropractors office, or google "cervical anatomy". Perceive how many connections there are going from the neck to the rest of the body. Take 3 minutes to read this simple article about the neck and pain associated with that area.