Do you suffer from leg, knee and ankle pain or numbness while riding? As you ride, your legs are spread in an unnatural position, causing pressure on your ankle, knee and hip joints. If you’re experiencing pain, it’s probably because you have uneven pressure on your foot–all your weight is resting on your little toe and all your joints become misaligned.
To alleviate these uncomfortable problems, simply pronate your ankles. Pronation occurs when you flex your ankle inward and let your toes flex outward and slightly up. With this simple switch, you’ll distribute weight evenly across the bottom of your foot. You’ll also bring your bones—from ankle to knee–back into a natural, pain-free alignment.
Have you noticed that most stirrup bottoms aren’t parallel to the ground? That’s the same angle your ankle should make when you pronate. The weight in the stirrup will balance across the ball of your foot, the stirrup leather will wrap around your shin and your calf will come closer to the horse, making you more secure in the saddle and giving you a closer contact with your leg for subtle cueing.
As a competitive rider, you’ll pronate more or less depending on your discipline. Trail riders can bend as much as they please to stay comfortable during long rides. Dressage riders aren’t encouraged to pronate much because their legs must stay loose and rhythmic. Pronation means your leg will have less movement and stay in a fixed position (important for all equitation competitors). Hunt seat riding requires the greatest amount of pronation because you’ll need close contact and greater security in the saddle when prepping for fences. Riders in Western disciplines need a medium amount of pronation–just enough to keep joints aligned, your foot balanced and to give you security in the saddle.