Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

We’re going online with rehab and fitness programs in 2021!!!

If you’ve made it to January just give yourself a pat on the back but for God’s sake don’t look behind you! January is all about making new plans and of course getting fit… here’s the deal, gyms and pools are closed (again) so I’ve been working on some new ideas so you can continue to achieve your fitness goals!

Discussions with clients will always result in questions dominated by two specific topics, the first being exercise. And although I can chat all day about this topic that’s not realistic! Secondly chatting doesn’t allow you to formalise goals, coach correct technique, record progress, or adapt programs to match future targets.  

I’ve been on the lookout for a long time now for an online fitness portal to allow me to continue and further the work I love to do. For numerous reasons it hasn’t materialised until now. And now I have the online rehab and fitness app that I am ready to take forward!

Covid has acted as a fantastic catalyst for the online with fitness being no exception. And there’s no better time to embrace it with online health and wellness in the UK being worth an estimated £28.1 billion in 2020 increasing by 6.4% in 2021 *1.

So read on to find out what I’ve been filling my Christmas holidays with to help you rehab those injuries and get in shape from a distance of up to 7 continents never mind 2 meters!

How will it work?

Clients will fall into one of two categories:

Clients in category 1 will purchase one off programs which may comprise of for example, lower leg injury rehab, shoulder mobility exercises, or flexibility for riders depending where their needs lie.

While you guys in category 2 will pay a monthly subscription. You will receive specific programs based on video assessments that you will upload alongside your individual aims that you’ll share. You will receive regular program updates and online coaching.

You can access all this via my website which will be updated regularly at

Who do I hope to recruit?

In short, you! It will be great to offer you a concise program of rehab exercises to fit alongside your current injury treatments or to improve your flexibility allowing you to recover faster post exercise or to get you fit to race ride with a sport specific program.

As things move along I will set up ‘groups’ so you’ll have the option to train virtually alongside others with similar goals. You’ll be able to compare results and encourage those in your group on their exercise journey.

About me

Over the last 27 years I have worked with numerous athletes to hit their rehab and fitness targets. I continue to specialise in equestrian sports and enjoy analysing movements and offering corrective strategies to improve injury status, posture, movement patterns and fitness for riding.

More recently I have continued my learning by completing specialisms in Corrective Exercise and Training Elite Athletes with NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) covering both ends of the rehab-fitness spectrum. My memberships with REP’s (Register of Exercise Professionals) and CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) allow me to continue to update my subject knowledge and stay current with policies and procedures in the fitness industry.

So look out for special offers coming up. Details will be posted on upcoming newsletters. Or contact me if you have a specific query.


Fitness for riders

Can Riders Run?

With pools and gyms closed again running is often the go-to activity for riders. With no membership subscriptions or additional kit to purchase. So when time isn’t in abundance throwing on a pair of trainers and stepping outside the front door really is an attractive option. With many riders having competed successfully in running events at school before horses took over!

But so often riders who have started a running programme come to me with knee pain. The story always the same with training starting well before a steep deterioration as knee pain increases. The pain is usually a result of muscular imbalances gained from years in the saddle. Often rectified with a good stretch routine. However explaining the importance of stretching often falls on deaf ears. But those who do take the advice on-board may well reap the benefits while keeping the cash in their wallets not mine!

Why is a return to running so problematic for seasoned riders?

So I touched on the fact that riding creates a series of muscular imbalances. Well this alters posture. Over time this stresses joints and causes permanent damage. It’s like driving a car when the tracking is out – the tyres go bald where there’s excess friction. Hips and knees work in a similar way although they are significantly trickier to replace than a worn tyre!

Riding is a non-weight bearing activity and rarely have riders adopted a habitual stretch routine like runners. So years of built up muscular imbalances causes poor tracking of the joints when running.  The stresses of weight-bearing activities can be 25 times greater than those gained in the saddle. So you can see how these rider’s bodies must be in shock when the boots come off and the trainers are donned!

Then you’ve got the cardiovascular aspect. Most untrained individuals would grind to a halt after running a few miles due to lack of fitness but not you riders, no! Because you riders have been honing your determined little cardiovascular systems since you first sat on a pony. The disparity between the efficient cardiovascular system alongside the muscular imbalances will undoubtedly increase injury risk. It’s like putting a Rolls Royce engine in a clapped out run around. The engine can go on indefinitely but the run around could have a bent axel with a bumper scraping the ground!  

What are the muscular imbalances that typically cause knee pain?

The muscles at the centre of the problem are the inner thighs which ‘switch on’ becoming tight and dominant, initiating a series of imbalances. When the inner thighs switch on the muscles in the bottom switch off or stop firing. The pocket muscle on the side of your hip also becomes dominant. Thigh muscles and hip flexors then tighten. This creates a forward tilt of the pelvis.

Now riders get away with these imbalances every day (to an extent) but give those same imbalances to a runner and you’ve got a problem.

Fixing the imbalances

Many of these imbalances can be rectified with a combination of foam rolling, stretching, activation and conditioning exercises. Try adding this section to your daily (yes daily!) stretch routine pre and post exercise if you’re a rider that wants to run. Ps stick with the order I’ve set out.

1. Foam roll – inner thighs, front of thighs and side and front of hip, 30 sec + holds on tender areas, roll slowly 5 times for each muscle group.

2. Stretch – inner thighs, front of thighs, bottom, hip flexors. Stretches should be static with 30 sec + holds.

3. Activate – bottom. Lie on your front, rest head on hands, legs out straight, point toes, lift legs alternately a few centimetres off the floor engaging bottom as you perform the activation exercise for 30 + sec.

4. Condition – pelvic tilts. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat, place fingers just under the lower back, pull belly button towards the back for 2 secs. You should feel pressure on the fingers. Relax and repeat for 30 + sec.

So yes riders can run but it’s more complex a picture that just throwing on a pair of trainers. You’ll have to do some ongoing graft to fix those muscular imbalances that have imprinted on body and mind. For more help and advice on the subject drop me a line or book a session.

Pony Racing – drawing on the positives of being stuck out the back (again!)

Pony racing has gathered increasing support and status over the last few years. Rarely would you now find a champion apprentice or conditional that hasn’t ridden on the pony racing circuit. But some might say there is a growing divide between competitors or perhaps more so the ability of their ponies. I’ve heard of kids riding racing ponies bought for over £100k. So how do the rest compete? And what’s more if you want to make this your career could this mean it’s over before it has started?

So if you have notions of being the next Oisin Murphy or Bryony Frost but are constantly being left at the start don’t despair? There are ways of bridging the gap (or at least getting noticed) without resorting to robbing a bank to fund a faster pony!

One way of standing out is by being fitter than your competitors. And what better time to start focussing on fitness than now while pony racing fixtures have been halted. There need not be a heavy financial burden. Some basic kit, a little knowledge and you’re away. And there’s no better platform to demonstrate your superior lung capacity than on the back of a slow pony that needs driving from start to finish! Onlookers always admire a jockey with this type of resolute determination. After all it’s what top riders are made of.

A jockey that is physically strong in a finish can easily be taken off a slow pony, put on a mediocre one and be given a good chance of winning. A weak jockey on the other hand on a mediocre pony has at best a slim chance of winning, fact.

As a rider you may have been taught that a good squat technique is fundamental to the drive in a finish. Correct, but don’t over focus on quads (thigh muscles) and forget to train the muscles that help stabilise them.  Train smarter not harder. Learn to spread the workload between neighbouring muscles so you don’t fall in a heap a furlong out.

The glutes are the most under used muscle group in the squat. The majority of riders I see have a brutal squat (true story) and there are physiological reasons associated with riding that cause this. But the good news is that it’s fixable with training.

Try lateral walking (like a crab) with a mini band around your legs to strengthen glute medius (the side of your bottom). This will get glutes firing, help spread the workload and stop quads fatiguing as quickly. You’ll look more professional and be more fluent as you drive to the line.

If you want to find out more about how to train effectively for race riding contact me.

Are you fit to ride? What are your pony racing experiences? Comment, like, share.



Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

Is sitting making your blood boil? Literally!

Sitting – the route of all evil? Our bodies dislike it on so many levels and I treat the effects daily. Physically we know the issues but emotionally? ‘Yeah right’ you say dismissively!

It’s normal for people to come to me with a bad back. I’m used to that. But the pattern I’m seeing more and more is the one that links lower back pain to stress and anxiety. So what is happening to people now that wasn’t happening 5, 10 or 15 years ago?

The answer could be that we are all sitting more. That extra hour sitting at work each day to pay that extra bill or that extra hour sat in traffic. It’s all adding up. And more time at work means less time exercising.

Sitting, whether it be at a desk, in a car, on a horse (yes!) or for farriers shoeing (you’re in that same folded position) affects our body’s (bio) mechanics. Structural imbalances increase and consequently so does the risk of injury.

Predominantly, sitting tightens the psoas muscle which sits deep in the abdominal area and connects the spine to the thigh bones. But here’s the interesting bit ……. psoas is directly linked to adrenaline production. Tight psoas signals that you’re in danger preparing your body for flight or flight by releasing adrenaline. So what happens if you continue sitting and there’s no fight or flight, where does the extra adrenaline go? Well if no physical activity takes place you simply end up with increased levels of adrenaline circulating your body. And it’s this that increases the likelihood of becoming stressed and potentially suffering with anxiety.

So what does a tight psoas feel or look like? From a postural perspective I tend to see a forward rotated pelvis (bottom sticking out), an internally rotated leg(s) (toes turn in), leg length discrepancies (unable to get stirrups level) and knee and lower back pain.

The clients I see who seem to suffer the most with stress and anxiety caused (at least in part) by a tight psoas are the ones who work full time in an office based role but who also ride horses. So they drive to work, sit at a desk, drive to the yard, sit on a horse then drive home (you get the picture).

What I feel when I treat someone with a tight psoas is tension through the sides (tight quadratus lumborum muscle, which attaches the spine to the pelvis) and tension through the abdominal area (tight psoas). The client will immediately feel tension on palpation of these areas but are usually blissfully unaware of an issue otherwise. Loosening psoas can often be achieved in just one treatment. And clients have reported significant decreases in levels of stress and anxiety almost immediately and with lasting effect.

So if your therapist is still closed do try to do some of the leg work to fix this yourself! I have trawled through various stretches online to find the best self-help methods for a tight psoas. Personally I find that a simple half kneeling stretch (see below) combined with a side lying foam roller technique (to also target quadratus lumborum) works well for most. But as with all these methods the techniques need to be fine-tuned to the individual… do get in touch if you’d like more information.

And it’s never just one thing that’s needed to fix the problem. Lifestyle choices play their part too. Try sitting less with the help of a standing desk. A number of my clients are now using these with great results. You can check out the reviews on the best standing desks here

What are your experiences? Comment, like, share.

Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

Stop rolling on your foam roller!

Yes really! Whoever decided to add the word ‘roller’ to its name has inadvertently put off about 80% of users from ever using a foam roller for a second time. The emphasis on rolling is too strong. So if you’re in this category of one-time users hopefully I can encourage you to dust off your foam roller once more!

Foam rolling (otherwise known as self-myofascial release) is a great way of loosening soft tissue before and after exercise to prevent and rehab injuries by maintaining flexibility.

Many of my clients have used a foam roller but haven’t continued because it’s too painful. On closer inspection I tend to see common issues with techniques. People typically roll too much, too quickly, position themselves inappropriately and fail to ‘hold’ on tender areas making foam rolling too painful and less effective.

There are lots of videos on the internet about foam rolling, but there are a few nuggets of information that I feel aren’t always emphasised enough:

  1. Roll less and hold more. The process of rolling is done largely to search for tender, tight muscles. Once you have found a tender, tight muscle use your bodyweight to push down. When the blood supply is reduced the muscle has to relax. Similar to trigger pointing, a technique used by therapists to encourage a muscle to relax. You should hold on any one area for 30 seconds or longer. When the pain decreases you can move on to the next tender, tight area.
  2. When you roll, roll slowly. Rolling too fast will causes muscles to contract (causing more pain and having the opposite effect to the one you want….doh!) Typically clients will try and get the process over and done with by rolling quickly. As pain increases so does breath-holding and body tension, again having a negative effect.
  3. Find a comfortable position. Rarely do I meet a client who has been told to support their head on their hand during side lying techniques to prevent neck strains or who has opted to use a cushion to prop themselves up if they aren’t flexible enough to perform the complete exercise. Getting comfy is important and it means you are more likely to hold positions for longer and support yourself better giving you more control of the degree of pressure you apply to a muscle. It’s not cheating it’s being realistic!

A common foam rolling exercise I teach is a back stretch. This technique involves the mid and upper back and is a great corrective stretch for those that drive, sit or ride (i.e. everyone). It helps correct that typically rounded back posture that so many of us suffer. I’m all for using props with this stretch and just encourage clients to do it for 1 minute a day initially to create a habit.

If you want to book a foam rolling session to learn more and get a personal program just go to and choose the ‘Rehab exercises’ option.

Let me know what you think if you’ve tried foam rolling and do post your comments below.

Sports therapy Berkshire

Rural Life (Covid-19) & Exercise Habits

The New Year’s resolutions should have been in full swing and that beach body should now be honed …..but Covid-19 has kind of put a spanner in the works. All this down time may allow you to think more closely about what facilities are really available to you from a location and financial perspective and which are the best options to allow you to achieve your fitness goals.

Living and working in rural areas can mean the choices available to you are limited especially when taking into account our biggest barrier to exercise – lack of time. Time spent travelling to your preferred destination means time not exercising. And when life is already hectic you need to think tactically when choosing where to exercise.

There have been some massive shifts in the fitness industry since I first started out as a personal trainer creating more choice for the user and keeping prices competitive. So if you haven’t yet donned the Lycra, hold fire and let’s look at some of the options available.

Perhaps the ‘Waitrose’ option would be a David Lloyd gym ( encompassing swim, gym, classes, coaching, kids clubs and treatment facilities under one roof – great (I hear you gasp). But they’re not always local, local and you’ll be paying over £1000/year. If you’re still excited by this option do check the class timetables fit around your life before parting with your cash!

Council run facilities can be a good ‘Tesco’ option. Just note that if you’re situated in the middle of two different counties (as we are in Lambourn) membership of one facility won’t allow you to use sites run by another council.

Personal trainers are dotted around. You can find prospective PT’s on the Register of Exercise Professionals ( or CIMSPA ( Check prospective PT’s are registered so you know insurances and qualifications are up to date.

And if you want to get involved in a specific sport you can go to the National Governing Body website where you can search for a recognised sport’s contact information.

Social media platforms like Facebook can be a great tool in deciphering whether classes and activities in rural areas are right for you.

And if you don’t have the funds or the time get onto You Tube and try something like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ ( Classes are approx. 20 minutes and at 6.01M subscribers she must be doing something right!

So don’t let a lack of finances, time or a rural location stop you from achieving your exercise goals. Let us know what sporting activities you’ve been involved in and what you’d like to have a go at next.