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Horse Riding

Horse Riding and Repetitive Forces

Horseback riding is a sport in which the spine is subject to high-impact loads, with sometimes unpredictable landing forces. Compared to the general population, there is a high occurrence of back pain among horse riders. Horse riders are at a greater risk of experiencing back pain than the general public due to both the repetitive nature of riding as well as the long-term consequence of a riding injury.

Researchers have looked into this issue to try and understand more about the link between horse riders and back pain. They discovered that horse riders were almost 50% more likely to be in pain than to be pain free. Within the group of riders that competed in showjumping, riders were over twice as likely to be experiencing chronic, long term pain than acute, short term pain.

What Are The Common Injuries For This Sport?

As well as injuries from falls, horse riders can suffer from numerous musculoskeletal problems due to sustained postures and repetitive movements linked with riding. Musculoskeletal problems include problems related to joint or muscle injuries. Horse riders are particularly susceptible to sprain and strain injuries of the joints and muscles of the back and neck, as well as of the shoulder and wrist. 

Mechanical limitations of the body, such as joint stiffness or muscular tightness, can also limit a riders ability to perform at their best. If the horse has any underlying patterns of tightness or dysfunction, this too can have a significant effect on the musculoskeletal balance in the rider, and vice versa.

Woman riding a horse.
Two female horse riders

How Can We Help Horse Riders?

When we treat horse riders, often our first step is reducing the pain they are experiencing and helping them to recover from acute, short term injuries. 

If the rider is in pain or otherwise unable to perform correctly, this will have a negative effect on the horse and stop the team from performing to their full potential.

On top of this, we aim to support rider’s to improve their performance through improved mobility, strength, postural control and endurance. Part of this support lies in supportive chiropractic treatment to ensure the body is working as well as it could. The other, more important part of this support is in an ongoing exercise based approach, aimed to strengthen any weak areas that are limiting the rider from reaching their potential.  

What Treatment Do We Use For Horse Riders?

When treating horse riders, it is important to take a holistic approach, assessing the whole body and treating any compensatory issues found. While all riders are unique, there is still a common pattern of muscular tightness or dysfunction that arises due to similar actions and positions while riding. When these muscles or areas become dysfunctional, they will create an imbalance in the rider, which will then reduce the effectiveness of aids and therefore the control of the horse.

Our treatment includes using techniques such as: chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue release techniques, dry needling, sports taping and corrective exercises.

Josh French, Surrey chiropractor and clinical director of Pro Chiro spine and Sports Chiropractic, performing a spinal adjustment on a patient with low back pain.