Horseback riding is a relaxing pastime that can, in some cases, be potentially harmful to your spine. This can happen in a couple of ways. The most obvious one is falling off your horse and injuring your backbone or any of its various parts. You could also experience a more gradual type of spine pain because of the stress riding a horse can place on your sacroiliac (SI) joints, which are located at the base of your spine. Should these joints become irritated, you may experience a dull ache in your lower back that can range from mild to severe, or you may feel sharp or radiating pain that extends downward. Fortunately, if you’re an avid horseback rider, there are some ways you can prevent back pain as you enjoy this activity. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Mainly located within your trunk and pelvic area, your core muscles provide the stability needed to safely and comfortably ride a horse. Having a strong core also helps your spine withstand the pressure from the natural movements associated with being on a horse, especially if you do some jumps here and there or ride over uneven terrain. Swimming is one of the many forms of exercise that can strengthen your core spine-supporting muscles. Planks, crunches, and other land-based exercises can do the same thing.
If you frequently ride horses, you may develop lingering or recurring inflammation that contributes to back pain. Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may curb tissue swelling enough to counteract the added stress placed on your lower spine.
There are belts and braces that are specially designed to support the SI joints. If you regularly ride, consider investing in a supportive belt or brace to prevent back pain when riding a horse. A belt or brace may also help if you’re already having some issues with lower back discomfort related to horseback riding.
Both of these disciplines allow you to gently work the same core muscles you’ll need to keep strong while riding horses. The main advantage with yoga and Pilates is that the movements are gentler and more controlled. A regular routine involving yoga or Pilates can also get you ready for pain-free horseback riding by:
• Maintaining your flexibility
• Helping you be more relaxed as you ride, which is also good for your spine
• Improving your posture so your weight will be distributed more evenly as you ride
Lastly, if you’re experiencing sudden, worsening, or lingering back pain while horseback riding or afterward, check with your doctor to find out why. You may be referred to a Los Angeles spine surgeon to confirm a suspected diagnosis or get a more accurate one. By treating spine-related discomfort sooner rather than later, you’ll boost your odds of enjoying pain-free horseback riding for many years.
Back pain and injuries associated with horseback riding can be treated in a variety of ways. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive fusion and non-fusion procedures, such as artificial disc replacement and back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles patients can rely on our team of spine health experts to determine the best way to prevent back pain and treat spine injuries. Call one of our friendly staff members today at 310-828-7757.