Riding and Back Problems
Many riders start suffering from issues with their back. This can be extremely painful and can impact every aspect of their lives. It is tempting just to accept that back pain is inevitable and to hope that one day it will just go away. But if you fail to address the issue, you are simply storing up bigger problems for the future.
Back pain should not be considered an inevitable consequence of equestrianism. It is possible to reduce your chances of encountering a problem and to avoid lengthy bouts of pain and treatment.
Common Back Conditions for Riders
This is an injury to the lumbar spine’s soft tissue i.e. the muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. It is commonly referred to as a strain.
Slipped, Herniated or Prolapsed Disc
An injured or degenerated disc can eventually protrude and press against adjacent nerve tissue causing pain.
This is the general wear and tear of the lower spine area and results in narrowed spaces between the discs.
Spondylosis is a stress fracture in the bony ring of the spinal column. This can lead to Spondylolisthesis where the crack extends to allow a vertebra to slip over another.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Here, a gradual there is a wearing away of the shock-absorbing discs between the vertebrae.
This is pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
How to Avoid Back Issues
- Do before you ride. Walk your horse briskly for a few minutes before you mount to warm up. You would probably warm up before participating in other forms of exercise and riding should be no different.
- Ensure that you adopt the correct posture when you ride. It is best to seek expert help in this regard. You may not realise that the way you are seated it stressing your back or that you are crooked in the saddle. Any asymmetry will place undue stress on one side of the body.
- If you are experiencing back pain, then consider changing your saddle or having it checked and adjusted. Ask a saddler for advice.
- Sweep and muck out using alternate hands to avoid placing too much stress on one side of the body. Make sure that your tools are long enough so you do not have to bend over excessively. Use the correct tools for each job rather than using whatever is to hand.
- Take care when you lift hay and feed. It is important that your back remains straight when you lift heavy weights.
- Try to avoid leaning over horses to open gates and stable doors. It is better to dismount.
- Always see your GP as soon as you start experiencing any pain. It is important that your condition is identified early to prevent your back from deteriorating. Your GP will be able to refer you to the appropriate specialist which could be a physiotherapist, a registered osteopath or chiropractor.
- Once your condition has been diagnosed, follow the advice that you are given and keep up with your treatment regime.