Lower back pain is a common health concern for riders and its effect can range from mere niggling, such as a slight twinge after a schooling session, to debilitating pain that follows a trauma or a fall.
Maintaining a healthy back isn’t just vital for your long-term comfort and wellness, it’s also important if you want to ride to the best of your ability. Whether you’re suffering from pain or want to prevent it becoming a problem in the future, our advice will help keep your back in tip-top shape.
A cause for concern
There’s a variety of factors that can cause back pain and they’re not all related to riding…
- yard work involves pushing, pulling and lifting heavy objects. It’s something you’d warm up for if you were at the gym, but when was the last time you consciously prepared your back muscles for this type of strenuous work?
- tension is a common cause of pain for riders and it doesn’t necessarily stem from nerves – trying to manage your position, engage your core and adapt the motion of your hips can all cause tightness through your back.
- trauma, such as a fall, can cause strains and pulled muscles that feel debilitating in the short term. If you’re suffering from acute pain after a fall, get checked out by your doctor
- poor saddle fit can limit the motion of your hips or offer too little support, leading to jarring or tension through your back. Ask your saddle fitter to check your horse’s saddle fits you, too
TOP TIP When you get to the yard, allow yourself a few minutes to prepare your body. Pop the kettle on, then for the time it takes to enjoy a cup of tea, do a few stretches to loosen your spine and hips before you start mucking out or riding.
Many owners will happily book in a physio or massage session for their horse, but balk at paying for the same treatment for themselves. Don’t think of manual therapy as an indulgence, though – if you’re suffering from soreness, your body will compensate in a variety of ways, and many of them can affect your horse and his way of going. Keeping your body in optimal condition increases the chance of both of you being able to perform at your best.
Learn how to maintain and improve your back health in September Horse&Rider, on sale 26 July.