I’ve often said that one of the best ways to understand the physical demands of an activity is to give it a go. Whether I’m talking to a client about the mechanics of a golf swing, riding a bike, lifting heavy boxes at work, or even playing a musical instrument – sometimes it’s tough to appreciate the stresses on the body without having put myself in that position – at least in a small way.
That’s all very well in theory – but when Penny Marshall, Olton Health and Performance’s very own equestrian specialist, offered to give me a horse riding lesson, the idea made me a wee bit nervous. I’ve done some reasonably adventurous sports over the years, but trying to balance on the back of an animal much bigger than I am with a mind of its own has never struck me as an entirely sensible idea – even after Penny assured me (a little too cheerily) “oh, you’ll be fine”.
Once we got going, though, it was far less terrifying than I’d imagined. Penny’s experience with horses put me completely at ease. She also has a great grasp of the biomechanics involved, and did a great job of explaining really clearly exactly what she wanted me to do every step of the way.
After Penny had shown me the basics, and I’d managed not to fall off, we talked about the typical challenges riders face, and how us therapists can help them to cope better with the demands of their activity. I discovered that the lower back and hips could often be tricky areas for riders, and we spoke about some strategies for preventing or rehabilitating common problem areas. Penny’s discovered some of this the hard way – having had a long term hip problem, she can appreciate better than anyone the need to look after the rider as well as the horse.
For any riders looking for a sports therapist with a real understanding and passion for their sport, Penny is available for sports therapy appointments in clinic, as well as on site consultations and treatments.