The Surprising Key to Freer Hips #65

#debono moves #equinemovement #horsehumanconnection #humanmovement feldenkrais method hips pain stiffness Mar 21, 2024

Wish your hips were more flexible or comfortable? Learn why the Feldenkrais MethodⓇ is different from stretching and strengthening programs. To improve your hips, explore this holistic, whole-body approach to movement, so you AND your horse can experience more comfort, elegance, athleticism and harmony.

Key Takeaways from the Podcast Episode:

1. Hips are a Common Issue: Many people, across different ages and riding disciplines, struggle with tight, stiff, or uncomfortable hips. This is often a significant obstacle in riding comfortably and effectively.


2. The Feldenkrais MethodⓇ:  Mary Debono discusses her personal experience with severe hip problems and how she found relief through the Feldenkrais Method. This method focuses on holistic approaches to movement and can offer relief from hip pain and stiffness.

3. Unique Approach to Hip Improvement: Unlike other methods that may focus solely on stretching or strengthening the hip muscles, the Feldenkrais Method takes into account individual history, injuries, and unique structural differences. It aims to help individuals organize their movements more efficiently to relieve stress around the hips.

4. Connection Between Human and Horse: Debono emphasizes the importance of integrating movement improvement for both humans and horses. Techniques like the Ischium Wave not only benefit the human but also help horses by transmitting ease and relaxation through their musculature.

5. Whole Body Functional Approach: Instead of isolated exercises, the Feldenkrais Method encourages a holistic understanding of movement, emphasizing efficient coordination throughout the entire body. This approach fosters regenerative movement patterns, reducing wear and tear on joints and muscles.

6. Biological Optimism: The method instills hope by encouraging curiosity about aches and pains, exploring ways to reduce effort and heal, and promoting coordinated movement to prevent compensation after injuries heal.

7. Benefits of Joining the Move With Your Horse group: Debono invites listeners to join her program (opening our doors soon!), which offers live coaching, professionally pre-recorded videos, other supporting materials (pdfs, etc.), and a unique blend of human and horse movement improvement techniques.

8. Encouragement to Explore Holistic Approaches: Listeners are encouraged to explore holistic, global approaches to addressing their own or their horse's movement issues, with the understanding that both human and horse deserve to feel great together.

Overall, the key message is that by adopting a holistic, whole-body approach to movement improvement, individuals can experience greater comfort, vitality, and efficiency in their own movement and in their interactions with their horses.

🐴 Our Move with Your Horse program offers Feldenkrais lessons and live coaching so that you AND your horse can move and feel better than ever!

πŸ’₯ Sign up to be among the first to know when we open the doors to our online group coaching program, Move with Your Horse! 🐴 πŸ’₯

Free rider masterclass:

Email [email protected]

All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider if you or your horse are unwell or injured. 


Hi. Do you want your hips to be freer? Maybe you want them to be more comfortable, maybe you wanna have more awareness of how to use your hips Exactly, especially as they relate to riding. Hi, my name is Mary Debono and this is the Easier Movement, happier Horses podcast. And today I wanna talk a little bit about hips, because that's like the number one thing I hear about when I ask people like,

what are you struggling with? What would you like help with? Hips are pretty close of not the number one spot on that list. So another top spot by the way, is anxiety. A lot of people wanna have less stress, more confidence, and less tension and anxiety. But hips is definitely way up there on the list. I, I get that from so many people across the board.

All different ages, by the way. All different disciplines of riding, all different levels of riding, tight hips, stiff hips, uncomfortable hips, really kind of are definitely one of the top things that people have trouble with and they want help with. But I wanna talk to you today about how the approach that I use, which is the Feldenkrais method,

is so different and why it's different and how it can help with hips. Now, to give you a little bit of backstory on me, I won't go into the whole all the details, but I started having severe hip problems when I was 18 and they lasted for many years. And I mean, I'm talking about lots and lots of pain, different doctors that didn't really know what's going on.

I thinking I was gonna need a hip replacement by the time I was 35. You know, all kinds of, of dire things because no one could figure out why I had all this pain. And, you know, riding was pain painful. Running on hiking were painful. Didn't mean I stopped riding by the way, but it was always painful and it just got to be something that I lived with.

And there were times when the pain was pretty excruciating and I didn't really see a way out. And then luckily for me, I kind of stumbled on the Feldenkrais method and started working with a practitioner and my hip pain went away. Didn't go away in one day, but it went away in a matter of weeks. And that was, let's see, let's just say 18 to I was a few years ago.

So I've been very, very blessed. So that is one reason. And that hip, hip pain was only one of my problems. By the way. I had, I did a number of them, but this is why I'm on such a mission to share this work because I did try other things. I, you know, I, I tried physical therapy,

I tried, you know, other modalities. I was very into exercise, things like that, that wasn't helpful for me. And I've seen it not be really getting to the root problem of other people's hip problems Either. So today I just finished teaching a class that was not called a hip lesson. It wasn't about, I didn't say it was about hips,

but it was actually about helping you feel a better connection of your legs to your torso, to your trunk. And it can be so incredibly helpful for people's hip problems, but that's not the only thing it helps with. But I wanted to share why the Feldenkrais method approach is so different in helping improve your hip flexibility, your hip comfort, your your strength than many other approaches.

'cause a lot of approaches you see out there, they focus on the hips. Okay? So if you come to someone and you complain about you wanna have more flexibility in your hips or you want them to be less painful or something like that, the tendency is to focus on that area and to address it by stretching it in different ways and or strengthening the muscles around it.

Okay? So it's a very kind of local approach, if you will. Like, they're just focusing on the hip or hips and thinking about how they could stretch or strengthen the muscle surrounding it. Instead, what the Feldenkrais method does is it helps you with your unique history, with your unique, you know, you know, whether you had injuries, whether you had surgeries,

maybe you had a hip replacement already, or maybe you're just built differently. We're, we're all built a little bit differently and some of us a lot differently. We have different confirmation to some degree the same way horses do, right? And some of us are actually born with muscles that are missing and we don't even know it. So we have different structural differences.

We have certainly different history of injuries, surgeries, et cetera. So the Feldenkrais method actually honors all that takes that into account. And then what it does is it helps you feel how you can organize your parts to relieve stress around, for example, the hips. It's not this, not only about hips by the way, it addresses the entire self,

but since we're talking about hips today, we're gonna focus there. So for example, you know, you have to think about like, why is your nervous system telling your muscles to contract around your hips? Like what kind of compensatory pattern did you develop that was probably started for a good reason, that's now no longer helpful. It's now quite harmful. Perhaps,

you know, why don't you have the strength there? Why don't you have the flexibility there? So that's what we look at. We don't just try to impose something new on you because that's not honoring why you started to have the problem in the first place. Instead, it's a much more holistic approach, a much more functional approach. Because what you learn to do is you learn to organize yourself so that the powerful muscles do more of the work in a very efficient way.

And it takes the stress off of the hips, for example. Again, I'm gonna talk about hips 'cause that's what the focus is today. So again, back to this lesson I taught this morning to my move with your horse group, okay? Which by the way, we're opening a new cohort very soon. So that would be in the beginning of April, 2024.

It's now March, 2024. And in that, in that group, in move with your horse, we actually work with you as the human. And also I teach you things that you can do to help your horse. So we do hands-on work as well. That's based on the Feldenkrais method. I call it Debono Moves, okay? So why is this different?

So again, in the Feldenkrais method, instead of stretching or strengthening in a local way, for example, one of the, the, the directions I gave that really resonated with people today is this idea of thinking that your femur, for example, are coming more into your pelvis as you do certain movements. So, so there was a very particular sequence of movements that I took the students through,

but that was one of the things. And I, I learned this actually from a man named Jeff Holler, and he worked directly with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, who created the Feldenkrais method. And he talks a lot about this, about this idea of thinking of your femur coming more into you, and that as you walk instead of like really pounding the ground and like pushing against the ground hard,

it's like you learn to organize kind of from your middle. So your legs get really light, your limbs in general get really light and you get really powerful and it just feels so much better. You have so much more energy and vitality. Now, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense out of context. So I be, 'cause in the podcast,

you're, you're driving your car or washing your dishes or whatever you're doing, as you're listening, I can't like take you through the whole lesson. That's why it is in my move with your horse group. And I teach them live. So I can actually give you feedback as you're doing it. And of course there's always replays then if you wanna do it that way.

So that's number one. So that's a very different thing. So, so with the sequence of movements that I take you through in the lesson, for example, you learn how to coordinate your muscles in a very individual way, like a, a way that's tailored to you, to your structure and to your history. And another thing I do, and this I I'm gonna say sets me apart from,

certainly I haven't met anyone else who does this un unless they were trained by me. There are people trained by me that teach this. But what I do is I also marry the work we do with the horses, with the work you do with yourself, so that it makes more sense and you're better able to help your horse. So for example, there's a movement I teach you how to do with your horse.

Some, you can think of it as a basic movement, but it has so many nuances to it, and it involves actually putting a little tiny bit of pressure through your horse's. Ischial tuberosities, they, they're is so it's like their seat bone. So they're at the very back of the horse in, in horse talk. They call that the point of the buttock.

So if you like, look at your horse from the side, the point of the butt that sticks out the most, if you, if you put your hand and you put your fingers against it, you'll feel that there's a big bone there. That's the back of the, you know, the isham. So the back of the pelvis, the seat bones,

if you will, same things, you know, you sit on, right? You feel your seat bones, right? The horses have that too. So if you were like on all fours, right? You know that your seat bones would stick out the back. So that's what they do with the horses. So one of the things I teach people in the program is how to do what I call an is wave,

which is, again, I'm not teaching you how to do that on this podcast, okay? That, that wouldn't be, that wouldn't really be feasible. But what you do is you put a very gentle pressure through the horse's isum, it travels through their skeleton and ideally all the way to their head. And this really helps, it helps in so many ways.

It's like a little bit of an assessment tool because you can see kind of places where your horse might be getting stuck, where the movement doesn't travel through easily. And so then there's ways to work with those areas and help that. But also on its own, what it does is it allows you to put this little wave of movement through the horse and the muscles end up moving passively because you're connecting directly with the horse's skeleton.

And then it's allowing the muscles to be moved passively. So they don't get defensive, they don't start tightening up more, they actually learn how to relax. So it's like a way of helping the nervous system relax the musculature, you know, relative to the skeleton. Okay? So in other words, you're moving the skeleton and the muscles are going along for the ride.

Okay? Now what does this have to do with your hips? Has a lot to do with your hips because when you do that movement, the way I teach it is I teach you how to do it in such a way that you feel the ground clearly, you feel your own skeletal connection to the ground. You feel basically your whole efficient Organization. You,

you allow the mu your muscles to be relaxed and ready for activity. So they're relaxed, but ready to move when they they're needed to, when they need to contract. And the movement kind of comes through you in a very functional way and then gets transmitted to your horse so you can help your horse in so many ways. You're also transmitting a sense of ease and pleasure of movement to your horse.

Now let's, now the other thing, the other important piece of this, and I'm getting, I'm coming back to the whole hip thing here. So stay with me. When you do that movement, when you do it well, it actually requires you to have a nice little bit of tone in your abdomen. Okay? Now I can say to you,

have a little tone in your abdomen, or, you know, something like that. And it doesn't really make that much sense. You might suck in your stomach, you might push out your stomach, you might not know what the heck I'm talking about. But when you do the Feldenkrais lessons that I teach, your brain automatically knows what that is because we've practiced that,

we've learned that through all kinds of different ways while you lying on the floor. And then when you stand up, you have it. And the reason that's so important is when you're working with your horse, you want your limbs to be available for movement. You want, again, to transmit a sense of ease and pleasure of movement to your horse and to,

to transmit this movement that I'm talking about, this ischial wave with your horse. It has to come from your center, okay? But it's not about just pulling in your stomach or something like that, right? And it has to allow that your arm to be connected to the, to your, the rest of yourself. So the lesson I taught today to my move with your horse group was called connect your connect legs to torso.

Well, we do the same thing with the horses. When you work with them, you learn how to connect your arms to your torso really well as well as your legs to your torso. And the reason that's so important is, again, it allows you to work with your horse to transmit a sense of ease and pleasure and vitality of movement to your horse.

And then by, by feeling that yourself, number one, you're, you are physically able to help your horse more and your horse will feel whether you are well organized or not. So you wanna transmit that organization to your horse. But also what ends up happening is that you learn even intuitively, even unconsciously, you learn how to give your horse that same benefit.

In other words, you learn how your horse's, limbs can be lighter, their neck can be freer, their back can be round their abdominals, engage their Pelvis to come under, you know, and to be powered from their, their hindquarters, right? And their whole, that, you know, their whole center, right? And, and their rib cage get involved.

All of those one fun things, all those very important things. So basically you learn the difference between movement that's regenerative, which is efficient versus degenerative, which is how most of us go around. So instead, if you just went and thought, okay, I'm just gonna stretch my hips, or I'm just going to strengthen my hip muscles, right? That's very local and can lead potentially to wear and tear to degeneration because you haven't organized yourself to come from a place of power to come from a place of efficient organization.

So I have to say the Feldenkrais method, I haven't found anything else like it. I've studied other approaches. I think Dr. Feldenkrais and, and other trainers that have evolved the method along the way, were just incredibly, are incredibly brilliant because it, it activates certain parts of you in a very unique way and in a way that then you will do spontaneously.

So it's not like you have to go around clenching muscles and things like that your brain knows to when to bring them in to recruit them and when to allow them to rest so other muscles can work so that there's this interplay of the muscles. And you know, I first became really apparent of the apparent of this situation, I'm gonna say about 30 years ago when I first started teaching my work to horse people.

And I noticed, like for example, I would put my hand on say, to do an issue wave. So I have my arm up, I have my, you know, back of my hand, like the front of of a, of a soft fist against the horse's is issue. And I just spontaneously would have that feeling of connection of my arm to my trunk and have that what I'm calling a little tone in the abdomen.

Like it would just happen on its own. I never ever actually thought about it intentionally. And the reason I never had to think about it intentionally was I've done Feldenkrais lessons for a long time, and so my brain just knew how to organize to keep my arm light and to have the movement come from my center. Now, when I started teaching other people that did not have a background in the Feldenkrais method,

I realized, oh, I have to tell them this because they just put their arm up and it's not connected to the rest of themself. It's just there. I mean, it's connected physically but not functionally. So yes, there's a structural connection of their arm to their trunk, but not a functional connection. And again, this happens a lot with the horses.

We have horses that we call leg movers that they're, they're moving their limbs. Yes, they're moving their legs, but it's not coordinated with the rest of themselves, right? Their sternum isn't coming down, right? Their ribs aren't involved, their hind quarters, you know, like the, the whole thing, they're just moving the legs, right? We know how bad that is for horses.

Well, it's the same thing for us. And so for me, for example, why my hip pain went away, why I stopped having problems all those years ago was because I learned without anyone telling me intellectually, I learned how to coordinate my movement in such a way that it was coming. I was using my powerhouse muscles and not having to rely on smaller muscles.

So, so in other words, my brain stopped having a need to contract around my hips to contract the muscles around the hips. That's what you have to ask yourself. Why are those muscles contracting so much? Why are you feeling so stiff? It's not, you know, it's, it's, that's what we wanna do. We wanna take away that necessity of the nervous system to bring a protection to that area.

Okay? So let me go back to now I'm, I know, I hope you're following me with this podcast, but the isum wave, I mentioned it in relation to the horses, but I started the story by telling you about, I was doing this with the, the students in my move with your horse group. I was giving them over zoom a Feldenkrais lesson that one of the many,

many benefits of it is it helps the hips be freer, okay? It helps the legs be lighter and better connected to their torsos. Well, one of the things I have them do in that lesson is imagine that as they're lying on their back, okay? And they're doing these different movements, you know, with the legs that's, and, and lifting their head in a particular way that someone is doing a double isum wave on them,

okay? And that is such a helpful image because what, and I can see everybody, I can see them on zoom, right? And people just immediately organize themselves better and they could suddenly lift their head without straining their neck, right? And they could fold in the middle, right? And again, they can have the more powerful muscles of the body do the work and have this feeling of just driving the movement through them in this efficient,

beautiful way that just feels really good, okay? And it's, it's, you know, regenerative as opposed to degenerative, okay? So instead of it harming you, it's helping you reduces wear and tear and it improves power, okay? And that's, and and comfort. And that's what we want for the horses as well. So again, a really key thing.

So if you're, if you're one of the very, very many, many, many people who have issues with your hips, I want you to think about a more global approach. In the Feldenkrais method, we talk a lot about this idea of a global change of state, of having a feeling of ease and efficiency throughout the whole self and, and letting it generalize through the whole body,

right? Like you start maybe in one spot and let it generalize through the whole system. And we do that. We, I also teach you this in the move with your horse group, okay? Again, new cohorts starting soon is how to help your horse have those same benefits. And again, I wanna say that it's so, I don't know anyone else other than people who've trained with me who do this,

but who, who actually can bring in the horse work to the humans and the human stuff to the horse work. So in other words, it's such, I, you know, and this has always been my passion, right? To, to blend the, the horses and the humans so that you both improve at the same time. Like what you are doing for yourself,

yes, helps yourself, but it also is going to help your horse. And even the work you do with your horse as you're doing it, you're actually improving your own body awareness, your own coordination, your own flexibility, your own strength. So it's, it's really that I, I I talk a lot about the horse human system, H squared,

I call it horse human, you know? And that's what you are when you're with your horse. You're not just a human with a horse and your horse is not just a horse with a human, but you're interacting together, right? You're, you're each shaping the experience that you're each having, right? You're shaping your horse's experience. Your horse is shaping your experience.

So having that ability for you both to improve simultaneously is pretty darn cool. Okay? And that is a big focus of my work. And again, I'm gonna relate this again. So, so back to the hips. So maybe you have sore hips, maybe you have tight hips, maybe you wish your hips can do things that other peoples can do,

right? Maybe you just wanna ride more comfortably, more, more skillfully. I'm gonna tell you, having this sense of a whole body functionality of coordination through your whole self is the key. It's really the key. And you'll just feel stronger, you'll feel more vital. And again, I wanna emphasize that then it's like organic learning because it's not about having to think about,

oh, I need to tense this and I need to hold this in and I need to tuck my tail this way, or stick my tail out or do this or do that, which is very disjointed. It's, it's not holistic. But instead when you, when in the Feldenkrais method we, we take you through these different opportunities, these different variations of movements.

So your nervous system really picks up on how it needs to recruit and coordinate movement. So then when you're in the position, like when something happens in your environment, that efficiency is there spontaneously. So again, back to my example of when I work with the horses, I automatically engage these things because it, my brain just does it spontaneously. And that's what I teach you in the class too,

is that when you do this, it'll start to just happen. It may not happen just from one class, but over time when you do the classes, right, then automatically, spontaneously your brain will know how to keep your arm light when you work with your horse, how to keep your legs light so that they can be useful, they can be powerful and light at the same time,

right? And that you don't have to grab with your hip muscles, for example, okay? Which causes pain, which causes wear and tear, which causes, you know, all kinds of things, causes stiffness, you know, all of that stuff. So again, it's about this more global holistic approach. And then again, I wanna say that the Debono Moves approach is alone in this,

that I've seen because it marries the two. It marries your efficiency and comfort and vitality with your horses, and that you both start to improve together so that everything you do with your horse, right? That when you do the Debono Moves method with your horse, when you do all that, you are actually improving yourself at the same time as you're improving your horse.

And you're both listening to each other on a very deep level. So your connection gets really strong, your communication gets clearer. So anyway, that's why I'm always so excited about this. So, you know, my, my students were joking about that in the class this morning because my, my enthusiasm just, just kind of goes through the roof sometimes.

But because I'm on such a mission, I know what I suffered. I suffered for years between hip pain, I had bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome really bad. I had surgeries that went wrong. I had issues with my neck. I mean, I had so many things, so many things. And this was a long time ago. I was quite young,

even though I felt a lot older. And, and I, I remember saying to myself, I have to expect this because I'm getting older. I was 29. I remember when I said that. Okay? So it was a few years ago. And I'm gonna tell you, it doesn't have to be that way. That's another thing I love about this approach.

It gives you hope. It's what we call biological optimism. It's like when you do get an ache or pain, you, you are curious about it. You explore it, you figure out how to reduce effort on there, how You can allow that to heal and how you can use other parts so that you're not constantly overworking that part that got injured.

And then you coordinate your movement so you're not compensating after the injury has healed. So anyway, pretty cool stuff and I hope you check it out. I'm going to be doing more talks about this and you can experience little bits of it because I am opening up the doors to my move with your horse group, okay? And we're gonna talk about it soon.

It's going to be for, you know, a a a small group of people. And again, there's live coaching, there's also prerecorded stuff. So you can watch how I work with horses, for example. So you can follow along that way as well as the live classes. So there's, again, I wanna just say it's, it's, it's a unique program.

It's really a unique program because you're getting the benefit of prerecorded information that you can watch on your own time. You're getting the benefit of live coaching. So I can help you out if for some reason you can't make those live classes, you know, it happens, you, you always have replays. So anyway, I hope you join us even on the wait list 'cause there's special perks of being on the wait list.

So, and there's no obligation. You can go on the wait list and, you know, whatever you decide is fine. To get on the wait list, go to mary Debono dot com slash join horse. And that's all one word, all lowercase. And if you forget what that I just said, I said mary Debono dot com slash join horse,

it'll be, that link will be in the description of wherever you're listening or watching to the, watching this. So thank you so, so much. I hope this gives you some ideas to look at your issues, whatever they are, whether you do yourself, have hip issues, I hope you can start to explore that more holistically, more globally, if you will.

And, you know, feel free to, to contact me if you wanna, if you wanna ask me some questions about it, Mary at mary Debono dot com. And you know, just start to think of things in a different way. And if you're thinking about your horse's issues, whether they're things that you may consider a training problem or a movement problem,

or maybe your horse is older or just has stiffness or soreness, when we can think about it in this more global way, it's so much more effective. So I want you and your horse to feel your very, very best. 'cause you and your horse deserve to feel great together. Thank you so much for being here. I so appreciate you and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Bye for now.