Getting back in the saddle - a fitness journey: Week 1

In a new series, we’re following the journey of our founder Hannah as she prepares to get back in the saddle following the fracture of her hand (the 5th metacarpal bone, to be precise) while cross country schooling in August. Although a relatively minor bone to break, it still resulted in an enforced period of no exercise for the first month of healing, to minimise the chance of the bone re-breaking or moving out of alignment. This has left Hannah with much work to do in order to be fit for riding at the end of this month, when she plans (in agreement with her doctors) to return to her usual early morning riding for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment as a civilian support rider.

With her first week of exercise complete, what has Hannah been working on? On medical advice, Hannah has been limited to purely cardio work for this week, so has been using the elliptical trainer to build up fitness across the whole body. Starting with half an hour at a fairly slow pace, Hannah has built up the speed as the week has progressed, feeling that this approach will get faster results than maintaining a steadier pace for a longer period. Using a heart rate tracker (or holding onto those metal ‘pads’ on most gym treadmills/bicycles) will help you to make sure you’re exercising at the optimum heart rate for what you want to achieve – in this case a fairly rapid improvement in fitness levels. You can easily calculate what this will be for you individually using something like this: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/target-heart-rate-calculator.html

Another crucial aspect when it comes to building up riding fitness is core strength. With a broken (but healing) hand, anything that requires bearing weight on the hands is obviously out, so regaining that vital core strength is going to be a challenge.

This week, in addition to increasing her cardio workouts, Hannah will be trialling a combination of ‘plank’ exercises and a technique more commonly used in ballet training, namely attempting to balance on a ‘Bosu ball’, which, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a section of a yoga ball attached to a flat platform and can be used either with the ‘ball’ part or the base uppermost, depending on what exercises you want to do.

The risk of falling off one of these is much less than attempting to use a full yoga ball to do any sort of balance work, but don't be fooled, the Bosu ball takes no prisoners... Check back this time next week to see how Hannah got on!

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