Developing Core Strength in Your Performance Horse

In most recent years, much research in fitness training has discovered the value of core training. The body’s core includes the four main abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, and the erector spinal muscles which support the spine. Collectively, these muscle groups keep the back straight and strong.

The four abdominal muscles, the Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus, and Internal and External Obliques do much more than support the back. These four muscles compress the abdomen to aid in moving the contents of the various visceral organs through the body efficiently. These activities include urination, defecation, birthing, and constant inhalation and expiration. If the core muscles are weakened or injured, possible dysfunction in the visceral organ performance could result. Additionally, when these same core muscles serve in the skeletal capacity, they cause the body to move forward and back, up and down, and to bend from side to side. No other muscle group provides such a diverse group of functions. 분당스웨디시

The Rectus Abdominus, which is considered the main abdominal muscle, originates in the chest and inserts at the 4-9th costal cartilages, runs the length of the belly and attaches to the femur via the accessory ligament. In layman’s terms, this means that when your horse hunches his back to bring the hind legs under, one of the main movers is this giant muscle. The Rectus Abdominus is used more than all of the other abdominal muscles combined.

The abdomen is wrapped in fascia deep to the Rectus Abdominus, and in addition, the muscle itself is woven with tendonous intersections or inscriptions that are a part of the muscle. These inscriptions are very tough and non-pliable similar to a plastic laundry basket. They have very little elasticity. If you have witnessed a human with a “6 pack,” what you are actually seeing are these tendonous inscriptions that are woven through the abdominals.

In the care of an athletic horse, much attention should be given to these important muscles for strength, but for flexibility, as well. The single most important component in the speed of a horse is stride length. Only a very flexible abdomen will allow the limbs to fully extend for a long stride. This flexibility can be attained through active flexibility exercises, as well as manual static stretching of the limbs (for 30+ seconds each) both front and back.

The Transverse Abdominus are located in the flank and run Dorsal to Ventral or up and down in the flank area and are the deepest abdominal muscles protecting the vital organs. Because they are also main movers in running, bucking, rolling, bending, and stabilization, they are often quite tight and can benefit from flexibility exercises, as well.

The Internal Obliques are lined with a very non elastic abdominal fascia to protect the internal organs. They originate at the iliac crest (hip) and are inserted at the lower ribs 9-12. They are responsible for rotation of the trunk.

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