I am a Physiotherapist, I have a special interest in back pain. My business is pain management and I am also horse rider. I have suffered back pain all my adult life and still ride competitively.
Horse back riding is a sport that uses most muscles in the body. It is particularly enduring on the postural muscles. When sitting on a horse we have a centered upright posture. As the horse moves underneath us the muscle adjustments required to stay in position come from the deep core abdominal muscles.

Back pain is a problem for over 95% of the population.

This is a favorite topic of mine.

I get many e-mails from people all over the world asking for help.

So many riders are told to give up riding by their DR. or Chiro or physio or even family........because it is bad for their back.

HORSE RIDING IS NOT BAD FOR YOUR BACK. The job of looking after a horse IS bad for your back.

The key to controlling back pain is core stability.

The key to using horseback riding for pain management is Applied Posture Riding

* As a Physiotherapist I treat back pain for a living.
* As a horse rider I suffer back pain.
* I understand the mechanics of the spine and how it works.
* I understand the heavy labor required to look after horses.
* I know the muscle energy required to ride with skill and good posture

Now to clarify what is bad and what is good for your back.

Sitting on a horse with good core stability and posture requires strength and good spinal alignment. This is good for your back. (Same posture as sitting on a ball at the correct height).

Asking the horse to perform movements on command requires much more strength and posture control. This will strengthen the whole body. This is good for your back.

A rider with good strong core stability will in fact strengthen and improve their back while riding. (of course don't fall off ) . I'm talking about dressage, flat riding not jumping racing or rodeo)

A rider with poor core stability and posture will most likely not improve their back UNLESS they are taught core stability first, and then HOW TO apply this in the saddle. Riding can in this case be bad for your back.

Any person taking up or participating in ANY sport should train core stability before expecting too much success.

I Practice it, I teach it, and I totally recommend training core stability for controlling back pain in any person but especially in horse riders.

THE JOB OF LOOKING AFTER HORSES is bad for your back

This is hard on any person. There is much repetitive heavy lifting with throwing and twisting as well. Mucking out yards and carting feed all is bad for the back. Simply lifting a heavy saddle onto a big horse strains the back.

Again I strongly recommend training core stability for any person lifting on a regular basis.

The use of a back brace and a sack trolley can reduce the impact on the lower back joints while working in the yard. Getting smarter with the way you do things is the key to minimizing the strain on your back while on the ground.

The next time you hear Riding is bad for your back .......tell them IT"S NOT you've got good core stability and love it.

For further information on strengthening the core muscles as a horse rider look at
Applied Posture Riding.

For access to a back brace look at Clare Valley Physiotherapy here.

Leave me a comment please, Id love to hear from any one in the horse world on this topic.

cheers Annette Willson

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Tags: abdominal, back, core, horse, horseback, horses, muscles, pain, pilates, posture, More…riding, stability

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Comment by Jane Willson on March 3, 2009 at 10:43pm
Good info for those of us who ride as well as others who simply need to think about everyday posture.

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