Magdalen Health and Wellbeing

Horse riding and back pain

August 2, 2022

Horse riding as a sport puts the spine under high levels of impact. This happens not only from the pace of the horse itself but also the unpredictability of the animal underneath you and the unpredictable landing forces in some of the disciplines such as eventing or showjumping.
Horse riding and back pain

Research has shown that horse riders are about 50% more likely to be in pain than to be pain free. 85% of those in pain reported that the pain has had a negative impact on their riding performance. It also has a detrimental effect on the riders ability to apply aids which include the hands (reins), seat (weight), and legs. Riders use a ‘circle of aids’ to create a corridor of pressures that asks a horse to perform a specific combination of gait, rhythm, pace, direction, and other nuances.

Things that can help:

Correct posture while on a horse is important and there should be a few invisible lines. One running from the rider’s ear, shoulder, hip and heel and a second one running from the elbow, wrist and the horses bit.

To maintain these lines a rider needs to have strong core strength. There is a link between a weakened core and lower back pain, in not just horse riders but all individuals. We can all improve core stability, not just while on the horse but in everyday activities. The lower back discomfort would improve as would the ability to maintain posture and apply aids effectively while on the horse.

To help posture and core strength develop the improved alignment of the pelvis spine, neck and head is important. Osteopaths have expertise to help you achieve these changes. The first goal would be to reduce the back pain and allow the spine and the pelvis to work freely. This in turn reduces pain. Advice and exercises to strengthen your core will stabilise the lower back and prevent future instances of lower back discomfort.

The many benefits of regular osteopathic treatment include resolving these conditions which if left untreated can worsen and take longer to improve. By receiving maintenance treatment, we can work on decreasing pain levels, improving mobility and increasing range of movement in each session.

From my experience of being an event rider myself I understand the importance of good core stability for effectiveness of aids and postural stability. Being an osteopath allows me to help improve many different injuries and issues associated with riding or other activities. Having been through a fair number of riding injuries and falls myself I have experienced the benefit of hands-on osteopathic treatment firsthand.

Please call reception for more details 01392 428141