View Full Version : Knee pain and stirrups

Sep. 28, 2009, 06:33 PM
Which is better? A double jointed stirrup or a "fixed" one with a thick cushion and lots of room for the foot to move, like the EZ Ride Stirrups?
I have the double jointed stirrups and, while for a long time they felt great and my old and creaky knees didn't seem to suffer, lately I hurt quite a bit. Yesterday I rode about 16 miles alternating walk, trot and canter and by the time I got off the horse both of my knees were screaming at me. I have a ride coming up in two weeks and the thought of being in awful pain for the majority of it is not making me all warm and fuzzy. suggestions are most welcome.

Bank of Dad
Sep. 28, 2009, 07:26 PM
Try making your stirrups a hole longer. I just switched to the Herm Sprenger jointed stirrups with the blue pad from EZ stirrups and I feel better.

Sep. 28, 2009, 07:35 PM
Pharmaceuticals work for me.

Two Tylenol or Aleve prior to getting on and another two about two hours into the ride. I already ride with fairly long stirrups.

Sep. 28, 2009, 07:43 PM
the easyride stirrups have helped a lot with my knee pain. it's not totally gone, but it's not as bad.

Sep. 28, 2009, 08:15 PM
Toe caps are good, keep your foot in place and allow for steady knee movement. I've got them on my Ezy rides.
And glucosamine helps too.

Sep. 28, 2009, 08:17 PM
I see you call them CAGES up north - whatever.

Sep. 28, 2009, 10:39 PM
I use the slanted stirrups combined with the Knee -Eez. That works very well for me.

Sep. 29, 2009, 10:26 AM
I use the EZ ride stirrups too but have found when my knees hurt that it is because my stirrups are too short. Lengthen them just a bit. Sometimes even 1/4 inch can help. If lengthening a whole hole is too much try punching a new hole between the existing holes on your leathers.

Moving your saddle to a different horse can have a similar effect, depending on the, ahem, roundness of the horse. I have found that I need to adjust my stirrups up or down on different horses.

Sep. 29, 2009, 10:43 AM
Moving your saddle to a different horse can have a similar effect, depending on the, ahem, roundness of the horse. I have found that I need to adjust my stirrups up or down on different horses.I have found this to be the case as well.

Sep. 29, 2009, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the input.
I already ride with long stirrups but I'll try and lenghten a bit more.
And Advil is already my best friend but I hadn't thought about taking some prior to the ride. I'll try that as well.
I guess I'll give the Ez Ride stirrups a try as well.

Sep. 29, 2009, 11:49 AM
I ride with Sprengers when I ride English and EZ ride when I ride in my Tucker, and always take 2-3 Advil before a ride. But if I don't get off and walk for a little bit every 60-90 minutes, my knees will scream when I'm done. So I do, and it's become a nice little break for me any my horse -- I take a swig of Gatorade and he gets a treat, and we walk for 5 minutes.

On big group rides, I just jump off whenever the group stops to have a conversation or someone needs to adjust something.

Golden Pony
Sep. 29, 2009, 11:45 PM
I love these:


Sep. 30, 2009, 08:31 AM
IMO, knee pain is usually caused by the saddle, the horse's build and the position of the rider. Humans aren't anatomically suited to sit on a horse. If you climb onto a wide barreled horse and try to ride with your toes pointed forward you will put real stress on your knees which will try to bend around your horse (bowlegged!) and eventually you can damage your knees. Been there, done that! Saddles that put more bulk under your thigh and knee make this even worse. Treeless saddles on wide horses can make it worse. I love treeless saddles but unless you improve the twist of the saddle it will really bow your legs. Try turning you toes outward so you knee joints can bend normally (forward and back) and your leg can shape around your horse without stressing your knees. Do try varying the length of your stirrups. I find that shorter stirrups helps me as the cartilage damage to my knees is at the front inside corner of the meniscus and keeping my knees bent keeps my weight off that damaged area. Having enough bend in your ankles, knees and hips allows them to be shock absorbers but you need to think about allowing the joints to open and close.

I do prefer the EZ ride type stirrup and narrow stirrups straps, no fenders.

Bonnie S.

Oct. 2, 2009, 11:01 AM
I thought I would add to this thread instead of starting a new one.... i just bought a used Tucker and the stirrups that came with it are terrible. I don't think they are the standard Tuckers, they are tiny. Anyway, I want to buy good comfy trail stirrups and I was thinking about the EZ Ride type. do you recommend the nylon or alum? Is that cage thing comfortable? Is the EZ Ride brand the best? thanks!

Oct. 2, 2009, 11:24 AM
Hi peeps,

Based on my experience, which is recent (but I am better), I began to have horrible knee pain, many years ago though. I switched saddles, I played with the different stirrup lengths, stirrups from irons to easy rides, saddles pads thick to thin, different horses, ibp, ice, heat, cross training. In the end I was training my horse for an up and coming hilly, very hot ride, and a 50 miler (his first ride at that distance). My upper back also became a huge issue. The area where your bra would go. I was sleeping about 3 hours a night or less. Knee pain, back pain, oh my. Without getting into too many painful details, I just couldn't handle the pain any more. After my 50 miler ride and two weeks later, I went to the chiropractor. Bottom line is that my pelvis was "out". He has fixed it over time.

I was sitting on my right butt. Which in turn caused lots of other problems, such as my spine starting to curve (upper back pain, which was basically like having a butcher knife in my back) and the first clue was knee pain, which of course I ignored. For me it was not the tack, or how I was riding, it was my body out of alignment.

Now I have no knee issues when I ride. Same saddle, same horse, same tack, same trails.

On my arabian I prefer plain irons. On my gaited horse I prefer easy rides. Just because of the squishy foam pad. Stirrup length had no bearing on whether it helped my knee pain or not. Although on my gaited horse, I like a really long leg. Really long because there is no posting, and when she gaits I get this fabulous squishy feeling from the easy rides.

So maybe it isn't your tack, maybe it has something to do with your body being out of alignment?

If you check the endurance net archives, lots of people have knee problems, and it turns out to be out of aligned pelvis's. Mine sure was.

Just a thought . . . . . .

Oct. 2, 2009, 05:04 PM
rmh rider, I'm in the same boat as far as alignment problems go, but mine won't stay aligned due to an injury combined with a later C section. I can attest to how painful numerous areas of the body become when the pelvis is out of kilter. There are exercises you can do to help align your pelvis, but you have to know which side is higher and forward.

Oct. 3, 2009, 12:42 AM

Yes, my pelvis won't stay aligned either it seems, it is WAY better though. My right side is the bad side. So the chiro pushes from my left to my right to fix. My one leg is usually longer than the other. Even though they are the exact same length. My right side is further down, thus the knee problem, thus the little bit longer leg. IOW I was sitting on my right butt.

So what are some exercises? I am all for more exercise, and more importantly getting better.

But for the knee pain, I think that is pretty much gone. If my knee hurts, I am out of alignment. Sometimes I can push it over back into place.

Oct. 3, 2009, 02:06 AM
I hurt my knee in Jujitsu 30 years ago - I heard the ligaments screech and for years after that my knee would just give away sometimes when walking - forget sitting Indian style on the floor. :(

I didn't think I would ever be able to ride again. Right after I got my horse the owner of the local tack and feed store told me about "Crooked Stirrups". http://crookedstirrups.com/He said his wife swore by them. My knees were hurting from riding already and I had only had my horse a few days. I bought them....they were pricey but they turned out to be worth every penny. They are metal and slanted and keep my foot straight and take the pressure off of my knees.

My husband hated them and would switch the Crooked Stirrups for the original to the saddle stirrups when he would ride. Now that he has his own horse, my original stirrups live in the tack closet at the barn! I went to my cousin's house one day and he had about 5 saddles - they all had Crooked Stirrups. LOL Must be a family thing to have cranky knees. He swears by them too. He ropes and rounds up cattle all the time so he spends hours in the saddle. My Crooked Stirrups allow me to ride for more miles and I highly recommend them.

Oct. 3, 2009, 10:25 AM
rmh_rider, I'll write it here, but I can move it to a PM if anybody objects. Let's see, my right hip gets high and forward, so I put my left foot up on a step (or my tailgate, or a log, or whatever is around when I need to do this). I then lean forward a bit with my arm to the inside of the knee. I stretch my torso down and turn my shoulders in the direction of the bad hip as far as I can.

Believe it or not, this simple exercise works. It's much better than dragging a chiropractor around with you everywhere you go. :D

I always worry that my inability to sit straight in the saddle is going to cause my horse back problems. Sometimes I'll get off and realign myself during a ride if it gets too painful. For me, knee pain is secondary to hip pain. I've noticed that horses I ride whose manes fall to the right eventually have their manes fall to the left when I ride them much, so I know I'm affecting them in some way. I'm also left handed.

I use dog collars to turn the stirrups on my endurance saddle so that they point straight forward and have some give. Still, on a wide horse, I need the stirrups longer than on a narrow horse. I have no problem with knee pain when riding in an English style saddle.

Oct. 3, 2009, 02:07 PM
So maybe it isn't your tack, maybe it has something to do with your body being out of alignment?

I think you hit the nail in the head. I do have back and neck issues and have for a long time. I hadn't thought about the fact they could very well translate into knee pain issues as well. Dang. I had a bad experience with a chiropractor and haven't been to see one since. Perhaps it's time I reconsider.
The upcoming ride is next weekend. It's only 30 miles since is the first one for the horse I'm taking but, if he does well, I fully plan to do regular 50 miles rides with him starting next Spring. I'm pretty sure I can pull this 30 miles (dismount, walk it off, remount, etc. etc) especially since I'm not planning to "race" on the first ride but I need to be in better shape for the longer rides.

Oct. 4, 2009, 10:56 AM
matryoshka I will try this for sure. Thanks! That is really interesting on the manes going from one side to the other.

Peeps, et al

Find a chiro by word of mouth. I would suggest getting adjusted before your ride, then you will see if it works or if it is different. It may work it may take a few more adjustments. In my words: it depends on if you keep messing yourself up. As to whether you need to keep going back. Some pop right in, some that have been bad for a long time take more time and more adjustments to make it hold. I am not sure I have figured out what exactly I do to mess myself up and go out. If so I would quit whatever it is. It just doesn't go off like a light bulb, but takes until night time or the next day or two for me to be in a world of hurt.

I do think my RMH horse and her gait IS helping alot. Her gait seems to loosen me up in my upper back. I am totally perplexed about this. Why. Who knows. As a longtime endurance rider and almost forever trotter, of course I am trying to troubleshoot and figure out why. It may have to do with movement. Trotters can wiggle at the walk and trot, but my gaited horse doesn't have that type wiggle at the walk due to a lateral gait, nor a wiggle at a faster speed either.

Keep us posted. Oh the stirrups in the link AlfalfaGirl are really neat looking. What a great idea.

Oct. 4, 2009, 11:15 AM
Chiro adjustments don't necessarily hold, especially if the misalignment is long standing. Or, as in my case, the supporting muscles and ligaments have been damaged. You can cause your pelvis to go out of alignment just by resting one leg and letting the hip sag.

Chiro is great for finding out where your problems are and getting the biggies taken care of. Beyond that, it's good to learn how to help yourself. There's a guy here who posts occasionally about rider injuries--I'll have to look up his web site (his user name is Medical Mike). It's important to find out what excersises to do for your particular problem to keep yourself strong and healthy. Core strengthening exercises are essential for riders. We tend to lose core strength during pregnancy.

These days I can do most of the regular maintenance stuff myself; ie, scapula (over-use from being a trimmer), mid spine (injury from a fall), and pelvis myself. I go to the chiropractor when my back gets torqued by an unruly horse (my chiro is a sweet man who will fit me into his schedule when I get injured), and I go to an cranio-sacral guy for subtle adjustments on a regular basis. Because of this three-part plan, I'm in a lot less pain on a daily basis than I have been in 20 years.

I agree that it is best to find a chiro through a friend. They aren't all the same, they don't all listen to you, and some do adjustments that you adamantly do not want despite what you say. Talk to others who go to a chiro and see what they say.

Oct. 4, 2009, 12:09 PM
Knee and foot pain are nothing to do with stirrups. It has more to do with correct saddle fit and where your body is carrying your weight. That is why SADDLE FIT IS SO IMPORTANT. But what the hell - drugs and equipment are a much easier answer.

Oct. 4, 2009, 01:00 PM
Knee and foot pain are nothing to do with stirrups. It has more to do with correct saddle fit and where your body is carrying your weight. That is why SADDLE FIT IS SO IMPORTANT. But what the hell - drugs and equipment are a much easier answer.

Well, that was uncalled for.
Saddle fit is important? Duh! Really? Who'd have thunk?
Drugs and equipment are certainly not the answer to every problem but they can help and at my age with all the wear and tear my body endured over the years I'll take any help I can get.

I'll give the chiro route a go. Perhaps get a massage as well?

Oct. 4, 2009, 01:13 PM
suggestions are most welcome.

It was called for.

Oct. 4, 2009, 02:13 PM
Knee and foot pain are nothing to do with stirrups. It has more to do with correct saddle fit and where your body is carrying your weight. That is why SADDLE FIT IS SO IMPORTANT. But what the hell - drugs and equipment are a much easier answer.

exactly and having the correct lenght of stirrups also helps and if you ride centrally position position position

Oct. 4, 2009, 06:02 PM
How did it happen that one moment I was asking about stirrups and the next I'm hearing that my saddle doesn't fit, my stirrup lenght is wrong and my position must suck otherwise I wouldn't have knee pain riding mile after mile at a sustained pace? :eek::lol:

I'm close to 50yrs old, I've been riding since I was 6, Did the jumpers for years, evented, did (and still do) dressage and do a bit of endurance. My back is out of whack (degenerative disc disease) so I'm even more aware of position because the last thing I want to do is screw up my horse. For the same reason, I'm a saddle fitting nazi. I'm also pretty sure that after well over 40 years, my knees are a bit worn, hence the stirrup question. I'm not opposed to chiro care, I had a very bad experience with a bone cruncher who sent me to emergency so I'm a bit leery but I'm happy to look into it more if it helps. Stretches before and after riding are part of my routine. Ibuprofen is my best friend, I don't think that any amount of saddle fitting can change that but, hey, may be I'm just a whiner.

Thanks for the good input and the suggestions in terms of both stirrups and looking more into chiropractor care.

Oct. 4, 2009, 06:17 PM
What I need from a saddle is for it to help me stay mounted after my right leg stops working. If I'm in the saddle enough, I have to grab that ankle with my hand to get my leg over the horse's rump to dismount. So I need a saddle I can count on. I like a western fender to support the weak leg, and without turning my stirrups, my knees would be in agony from the torque. BTW, I won't ride a horse in a saddle that doesn't fit that horse. The question is whether the saddle that fits the horse will work for me given my issues.

So the right equipment is a big deal to those of us with restricted range of motion due to age or injury. A saddle can fit my conformation perfectly and still cause me agony because it does not support my bad hip. I know this because I had a saddle that fit me very well before I was injured. Now I can't even look at it without remembering how bad it hurts to ride in it. As far as I'm concerned, dressage saddles are torture devices. ;)

I've recently tried riding English again because I love the feel of those saddles, especially on a TB horse. My leg didn't go numb, which was encouraging (I had a nice big knee block to keep the leg in the correct position--woo hoo!). The days of pain in my hip afterward were frustrating and disappointing. That's the state I was in continually before I figured out what I needed from a saddle; ie support rather than comfort.

I agree that riding in a saddle that doesn't fit can cause a rider unnecessary pain. But sometimes pain is inevitable, and then we look for equipment that helps ease the pain. I don't like to take pain meds because they help me push past the point where I should stop, but if it is the difference between riding well and riding crooked because of pain, I'll take the meds.

Oct. 4, 2009, 06:51 PM
I'm afraid I don't entirely agree that knee pain has nothing to do with stirrups. I severely damaged the cartilege in both knees 15 years ago and the best-fitting saddle in the world wouldn't alleviate the pain that traditional stirrups cause me on hacks or cross country rides. Whilst I agree that alignment and saddle fit should be the first place to look, it's not negligent to turn to a good pair of stirrups to accommodate existing injuries. In my case, I swear by HS Bow Balance Stirrups, which finally allowed me to ride out, if not pain-free then at least with a tolerable level of discomfort.

Oct. 5, 2009, 05:55 PM
Hi Peeps and Matryoshk,

After mowing the pastures over the past week, I had to go to the chiro this morning. My right leg was a good inch longer than the left one. My pelvis was out, my neck was messed up too. All from being bucked around on the tractor for so many hours. Hey you lean under a branch, and the tractor seems to find a root, or a hole, or a rock, and it bounces you around.

I will email with you two off board. I am not comfortable publishing my injuries, and certain specific details.

Peeps make sure before any chiro touches you that you get an xray. That way he/she can see what is up, out or crooked. When the chiro initially xrayed me I had a low right pelvis (basically I was sitting on my right butt way more than the other one, thus I had ALOT more weight in my foot, and knee) then my spine curved to the left, and the neck went to the right to compensate and make my balance even out. I had many ribs out too. No I do not have scoliosis. No wonder it was difficult to impossible to touch the floor in all the yoga classes with the palms of my hands! Also I have not been able to do any sit ups either. Now I can. I am elated.

Either before or after the adjustments I take ibp, and I will ice whatever is sore. But not so much lately, I am trying to not to take any meds. I get very sleepy after the adjustment, kinda like a relief from the pain.

I ride english only. The leathers curve more easily. I also ride in a Solstice, which I have already mentioned before. Works for me. I also have two horses that both fit with my body very well. Not all do.

OBTW My lower back is rarely *if ever* is sore. Go figure. It was always my upper back where my spine curved, and my knee was horribly sore. I could barely walk at times. Even went to the ortho about it, he said drugs and ice. Then I started to get horrible pain in my left knee also. I was unconsciously trying to fix my body position when I rode. And all the time, it was a conformational issue on my part. Not the saddle, not the stirrups, not the padding, not my position. It was due to life. I am riding in the same exact saddle. No pain. So for me, it was not the saddle fit, nor the stirrups, nor my position. Nor was it my weight, or height, which is 5'5 and 140#'s - no lie. I am quite fit for a little old lady of 47! Whoops too much detail.

Oct. 5, 2009, 08:15 PM
I have limited knowledge of anything about knees, but for the last few years I found that I often had pain in my right knee while riding. Nothing extreme, just discomfort. I took up running over the summer and did a running clinic. During one of the early stretch talks, I learned about the IT band (it runs down the outside of your leg to your knee) and realized how tight my IT band was and that those stretches were by far the most beneficial for me - both in running and riding. It took me a few weeks to see the connection but when I'm running regularly (and thus stretching regularly, including my IT band), I don't have hardly any discomfort in my knee. I have no idea if this is your issue, but something to consider. There are lots of IT band stretching and strengthening exercises out there.

Oct. 6, 2009, 05:15 PM
Okay, so I never thought about this until I read this thread....

I was having horrible knee pain last year, when I dismounted off my horse my knees would almost buckle underneath me and had some serious pain, it was horrible. Well in the last year, I have had no knee pain and have been riding more than I ever had. I attributed it to having a better position and seat. But now that I think of it, I did get a new saddle a year ago and wahlah, I have no more knee pain. Hmmmmmm, just dawned on me now!!!!! Maybe its the saddle.

Oct. 6, 2009, 06:00 PM
rmh_rider, I'm 45. I can tell you that my aches have to do with mileage and injury rather than age. :D I'm more fit now than I was 10 years ago. I've also racked up a few more injuries. Drat!

busterwells, I have no doubt that the wrong saddle can cause problems for a rider. Glad your issues have worked out for you!