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View Full Version : Why does my shoulder hurt when I sit the trot? photos on post #6



*Liz*
May. 18, 2011, 06:52 AM
Why on earth does my SHOULDER hurt when I sit the trot?

I noticed something interesting while schooling in my dressage saddle yesterday, and I thought maybe someone can tell me what's going on. When I sit the trot, even if I have no contact/a droopy rein, the top point of my left shoulder aches. Looking at google pictures, the pain seems to come from around the acromioclavicular joint. It doesn't feel like muscle soreness, but rather like a dull knife is being stabbed into the top of my shoulder every .5 second.

I am primarily a h/j rider, but I school a lot of dressage regularly to keep my horses at their best. On a regular basis, I post the trot. However, when I put my dressage saddle on, my personal rule is no posting, only sitting. This is not a daily or regular pain. Sitting the canter doesn't do it either, just the trot. I'm riding in a Passier G.G. Nicole if that makes any kind of difference.

If my back or legs or abs hurt, I'd understand. Yet it's my shoulder, and it doesn't have anything to do with tension on the rein. It makes me wonder if it's maybe a back issue that presents in my shoulder? IDK, I just find it strange and would love for someone to tell me they have weird pain sometimes too.

EqTrainer
May. 18, 2011, 07:29 AM
Referred pain from your abdomen.

yaya
May. 18, 2011, 07:34 AM
Pain in that area is related to the rotator cuff, which you may have strained somehow. Sometimes it can be from how you hold your shoulders when you do have tension on the reins and are posting (especially if you tend to round your shoulders forward). Then when sitting, your shoulders are in a different position, causing pain.

I'm actually more concerned about the no posting in the dressage saddle rule. You should post when warming up at the beginning of the ride to allow the horse's back to warm up and become loose before starting to sit.

Sitting on a cold stiff back will make it much rougher on your shoulder too.

Petstorejunkie
May. 18, 2011, 08:16 AM
posture issue. I bet you are more rolled forward in that shoulder and when you put it back where it belongs the connective tissues scream.

paulaedwina
May. 18, 2011, 08:27 AM
Are you crooked? The best thing to do is have someone watch you sit the trot for a while (it's important to do it for a while because you'll try to be correct at first -Hawthorne effect). They have to watch your whole body; from the your feet to the top of your head.

Paula

*Liz*
May. 18, 2011, 08:43 AM
Thanks for the responses so far.

I wonder if it may be a posture issue. I grew up as a competitive gymnast, and as such I have a number of issues with my body, notable ankles, wrists, hips, and shoulders. At least my back and knees are good! ;) Due to my shoulder issues, I hold my reins a bit shorter than normal as I cannot comfortably and successfully ride with my elbows at my sides. I have no strength when my elbows go past my sides, so I ride with my elbows about 4" in front of my sides, and when I have to pull back, my elbows only come back to my sides. I can try to experiment with pulling my elbows further back and rolling my shoulders back more to see if that's the ticket.

@yaya
In general I whole-heartedly agree with you about not sitting on an un-warmed up and loosened horse, but this particular horse is a special case.
To clarify, my no posting rule applies to my gelding only (I usually do dressage work in my jumping saddle and my dressage saddle goes on my gelding only for now.) I've had this horse 7+ years and have brought him along from his first canter and jump under-saddle to successfully showing as an A/O jumper. For more than 4 years this horse would not stay round more than a couple strides at the posting trot, yet if you sit he rounds and softens right up. The last few years he's finally able to carry himself at the trot with me posting. He is not cold-backed and honestly PREFERS if his rider sits, even from the start.


Here's a few photos of us in dressage saddle. They're a couple years old, but I don't think my equitation has made any drastic changes lately. Please forgive that we're in our jumping bridle - he now works solely in a loose-ring KK ultra and regular noseband for all work from jumping to dressage. And lastly, please excuse that I am not wearing a helmet. I'm an adult, I trust this horse, and I'm currently at a barn that requires helmets for riding.

http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/11280057.jpg
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/11280063.jpg
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/11280062.jpg
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/11280061.jpg

paulaedwina
May. 18, 2011, 09:19 AM
Your shoulders are rounded forward like you're slouching, but only the top part of you. I'm no trainer so take that with a grain of salt. Roll your shoulders back. The slouch looks like the kind of thing tall kids learn to do so they don't stick out.



Paula

Elkie
May. 18, 2011, 10:06 AM
Lovely horse, you should think of bringing your head back to sit squarely over your shoulders, because the head is heavy, this will mostly alleviate the pain and your shoulders will be less rounded.

Equibrit
May. 18, 2011, 10:12 AM
Your neck looks tense.

alto
May. 18, 2011, 10:35 AM
Due to my shoulder issues, I hold my reins a bit shorter than normal as I cannot comfortably and successfully ride with my elbows at my sides. I have no strength when my elbows go past my sides, so I ride with my elbows about 4" in front of my sides, and when I have to pull back, my elbows only come back to my sides. I can try to experiment with pulling my elbows further back and rolling my shoulders back more to see if that's the ticket.


Even when pulling back, your elbows should not extend past your sides - not sure if you're working with a dressage trainer at this time but maybe try a clinic to sort out the best position for you/your horse.

Velvet
May. 18, 2011, 10:43 AM
Funny, but a little over to the collar bone and I would have said that your problem probably is that when doing the sitting trot you forget to breath. I had that problem in my teens, and I've known other riders who have the same issue. Weird referral, but breathing ended up being the problem in all those situations. Maybe it is that, it just feels like it's over more? Hey, it's an easy thing to try. Focus one rhythmic breathing so you don't lock up and hold your breath (which often makes a person lift their shoulders up a bit).

Otherwise, I'd say it's still tension, it just has a different source. :)

raff
May. 18, 2011, 11:06 AM
You seem to be chin poking and looking left,maybe correcting this could help?

*Liz*
May. 18, 2011, 12:00 PM
Interesting observations :)

My gut reaction is to say I was looking where I was going, but honestly I have few photos of me with my head/neck dead straight ahead, so this may be my issue. I will definitely concentrate on this next ride because if I'm riding with my neck tense and head cocked all or most of the time, that certainly needs to be corrected. Any suggestions for this one?

I recently moved to a new barn and there is a fabulous dressage trainer I'm dying to take lessons with... as soon as I find the $$

@alto
Maybe I am confused here as I have had very little formal dressage training. I have been told in past dressage lessons to keep my elbows at my sides. Perhaps this was a bit of an exaggeration? Looking at the photos, does it look like I need to move my elbows back, or is it okay?

Equibrit
May. 18, 2011, 12:45 PM
You should not be "HOLDING" any part of your body. It should all stack up upon itself in a column (by using the natural tension in your core muscles that allow you to remain perpendicular), your arms should fall from your shoulders, and your legs should hang down around the horse, until you need to use them. If your backbone is stacked up correctly, you should be able to absorb the movement of the sitting trot through your waist area and not tense your neck.

GutsNGlory
May. 18, 2011, 12:55 PM
Do you feel the pain in that area at any time other than riding (even remotely)?

Have you considered seeing a chiropractor?

Normally, I would not have suggested this, BUT starting about 4 weeks ago I had pain in the same area - induced when riding, driving, and at work (desk job). I thought it was a simple "tension" point brought on by stress and my bad posture - as I have had slight pain there off and on over the past few years when driving long distances. For a few weeks, though, it had become more of a constant pain/annoyance and more daily activities began triggering it.

I was also worried that I might have torn a muscle during my work-outs/weight lifting. However, shoulder pain (especially on the left side) can also be a sign of many other problems in the body, including: internal damage or infection (especially with the lungs), constipation, ectopic pregnancy, bone chips/spurs, etc. Now I am not saying that you should instantly jump to the worst conclusion, but you should be cautious.

I finally ended up talking to my father about it. He sent me to his chiropractor (basically a "let's start at the bottom and eliminate what we can" move). After doing significant muscle and flexion testing (which I passed with flying colors :D) xrays revealed that my C3 vertebrae in my neck was misaligned to the left as well as my T3 & T4 discs (who knows how I did it - horses, car accidents, and my rough and ready lifestyle could all be causes! ;)). I also learned that my bad posture was causing my neck to shape the opposite way that it is supposed to :sigh:. I have now been in for several adjustments and therapies though, and am doing daily stretches to improve my posture... and the pain is gone!

So - just a possible scenario to throw in there... I hope you find out what is triggering it and can alleviate it!

Petstorejunkie
May. 18, 2011, 03:09 PM
I'm bored, so I decided to make geometry out of your photo
Posture (http://www.flickr.com/photos/35409622@N05/5734059599/in/photostream#/photos/35409622@N05/5734059599/in/photostream/lightbox/)
Pink vertical line should be where your ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle live. Notice how far forward your ear and ankle are.
Horizontal pink line is farthest back elbow can hang, and also the horizontal plane the forearm and hand should be on.
Teal vertical line indicates where horse's poll should be
Teal horizontal line aides in showing overall balance of horse.
Diagonal leg lines show the impulsion and balance of the horse.

If you put on your best 'sasquatch listening' ears and go to learning tools on my web page in my signature. Watch the video called "The importance of shoulders"

I'm fighting the same habit (http://www.flickr.com/photos/35409622@N05/5734099669/in/photostream#/photos/35409622@N05/5734099669/in/photostream/lightbox/), and with awareness and concentration I'm breaking the habit and riding with better posture.

Bogie
May. 18, 2011, 04:30 PM
Lovely horse, you should think of bringing your head back to sit squarely over your shoulders, because the head is heavy, this will mostly alleviate the pain and your shoulders will be less rounded.

This is what I noticed, too. You also seem to be a bit perched on your horse, as evidenced by the fact that your legs are slightly too far forward and you knee is up. When you ride like that your body is not absorbing the shock produced by trotting as efficiently as it would if you were aligned.

Have you thought about pointing your knee down and keeping your body (and especially your head/neck) more aligned?

I'm recovering from Rotator Cuff and Biceps tendonitis and I also find that I must remind myself to soften through the elbows and stretch down, otherwise I hold tension there.

Good luck!

SisterToSoreFoot
May. 18, 2011, 05:38 PM
I used to coach runners and I run myself, and I have a similar shoulder pain (in the same spot you describe) that occasionally crops up when I run, especially when I was younger. From my observation, people who are thin in the shoulder area sometimes get pain just from lacking a great deal of muscle (or even fat!) to stabilize the joints...so runners get this from the jarring motion of running; I can see how it might happen at the sitting trot. You appear slim in the pics so it might explain it.

I coached high school cross country, so many of the girls were very thin in the shoulder area and complained of the same thing.. stretching beforehand might help, or simply "shaking out" while you're in the saddle (i.e. dropping/relaxing your arms and shaking them to release any tension). Sometimes I pinwheel my arms around before running, or do the stretch where you reach to the middle of your back. You might also consider general upper body strength training to muscle up your shoulders.

Just my totally unscientific observations.

goeslikestink
May. 18, 2011, 05:47 PM
Your shoulders are rounded forward like you're slouching, but only the top part of you. I'm no trainer so take that with a grain of salt. Roll your shoulders back. The slouch looks like the kind of thing tall kids learn to do so they don't stick out.



Paula

hate to say but agree,
liz frust the bust mate, look ahead not to the side , where you look your hands will follow and the horses head will follow through also straighen your toes as in forwards as heals in legs off - toes straight legs striaght legs on the horsey

look here and check your stirrup lenght this will help you with your position which in turn helps with your balance and the way the horse isgoing as another poster said you look perched on your horse, if you have come from jumping to dresagge or general schooling then you need to lengthen your stirrups by a hole or two this allows you to sit into your horse more

look her read page 1 i explain how to altered your stirrups correctly
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

simple exercise walk up and down a corrdior or room with a broomstick behind your back this will teach you to frust your bust and sit up when on a horse so your back is straight

if one slouches ones going to drop one schoulders, doesnt matter if left or right but what does matter when you do that the horse will fall in, on that side your dropped your schoulder on, and not only that when a horse does that more often than not, the floor comes up mighty quick and says hello to you lol if one slouches believe it or not then this plays a part on the horses way of going, as he then has to compensate for the tilt, of the rider even the slightest tilt of slouch puts you forwards on and into the head regions of the horse , and then what happens is the horses head is supporting your body weight which is incorrect

which probably explains why you have a gag and crackle on him as hes
strong to ride for you - which as hes supporting your bodyweight he would be

Pocket Pony
May. 18, 2011, 05:57 PM
I agree that it appears you are looking left in all the photos. In the first photo, pony is looking straight ahead so I'm not sure it is an indication of where you are going. It also looks like you are collapsing in your abdomen in a couple of the pictures vs. sitting up straight and using your abs. I see a lot of h/j riders (and I used to be one so I speak from experience) who do the sitting trot in this position vs. absorbing and recycling the energy through the hips and lower back. With each step they collapse the lower back forward and back, rounding the shoulders forward. Perhaps your body is taking the energy in the wrong places.

Also, look to your mouse usage with the computer. When I'm doing a lot of mouse work, my shoulder hurts a lot throughout the day, not just at work.

allison finch
May. 18, 2011, 06:01 PM
A lot was covered in the above. But, I have a question just out of curiosity.....Do you always school lower level flatwork in a gag bit?

Pocket Pony
May. 18, 2011, 06:02 PM
She already said this picture was from a couple years ago and pony now goes in a KK bit.

goeslikestink
May. 18, 2011, 06:13 PM
then one needs to do update of a picture schooling and not use an old photo
wherby they are using a gag and crackle if ones in kk and has backache still then one must being doing something wrong or doing the same thing over and over agian

but will add habit is for those that ride with spurs and have there ankles turned into the horse spurs should be used via the expreinced and not for the novice

*Liz*
May. 18, 2011, 11:03 PM
Thanks again to all the new responses.

I'll start by adding a few recent pictures.
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/DSC_0001.jpg
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/DSC_0002.jpg
http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd278/eae06c/Zeus/DSC_0025.jpg
Here we're warming up for a schooling (jumper) show. He is in the fig-8 here for aesthetics because he's showing as a jumper. I can easily fit at least 2 fingers under all parts of the noseband, he goes EXACTLY the same with a regular noseband or fig-8 the way I adjust it. Hate me if you want, but it's only there for looks. For daily schooling he wears a standard noseband, loosely.
I am posting in these photos and obviously not in my dressage saddle, but this is at least a more current representation of our ride. The previous pics posted are the most current ones I have of us in dressage tack.

Next I'll address the fact that while young, my body is far from in peak condition.
My ankles and wrists are weak from gymnastics; and I suffer from some lack of mobility.
I had a roll-over car accident at 16 and junked up my right arm (bicep area causes the pain) so that it is weaker and less flexible.
I have a couple ribs on my right side that sit further into my ribcage than they should; I can put my fingers underneath it, pull it out to where it should be and have it produce a popping sound (gymnastics accident.)
I have some the the most impressive "knots" in my shoulder muscles (between my neck and shoulders) that a number of massage therapists have ever seen (been there more than 10 years, back from gym. days.)
Every time I move my shoulders backward and forward they audibly crunch and grind.
Etc.

So while I have lots of daily aches and such, this acute shoulder pain has only presented itself so far at the sitting trot.

@Sister
You have some very interesting information, thanks for sharing! I am quite thin, and what you are saying makes very good sense to me. Unfortunately weight gain does not come easy to me these days so I'm stuck with what I have. I am definitely terrible about stretching before I get in the saddle, taking a few minutes to do a few exercises wouldn't kill me and may really help. Thanks.

alto
May. 19, 2011, 02:08 AM
I recently moved to a new barn and there is a fabulous dressage trainer I'm dying to take lessons with... as soon as I find the $$

Approach the trainer & discuss options that may fit within your budget, eg, 20-30min lessons, a group lesson (not ideal but if you want to improve your dressage position you want to start somewhere & a real live instructor beats internet advice anyday ;) ), a lesson on the lunge once a month etc



@alto
Maybe I am confused here as I have had very little formal dressage training. I have been told in past dressage lessons to keep my elbows at my sides. Perhaps this was a bit of an exaggeration? Looking at the photos, does it look like I need to move my elbows back, or is it okay?

Dressage has nothing to do with pushing your body into a "correct" formation - don't focus on where your elbows, legs, heels are "supposed" to be, this will just create tension & stiffness.
Given your history & the physical limitations it places on your body, you want to work with an instructor to find the position that allows you to be the most effective rider you can be at any given time - this is going to change as you develop as a rider; it's going to change again as your horse develops.

If possible, have a friend video tape any dressage lessons you have, sit & watch other lessons where the rider is at a similar level, especially where horse & rider are of a similar background.

Bogie
May. 19, 2011, 07:30 AM
You are more aligned in your jumping saddle. Perhaps your dressage saddle is not putting you in the right position?

Petstorejunkie
May. 19, 2011, 09:16 AM
I have a couple ribs on my right side that sit further into my ribcage than they should; I can put my fingers underneath it, pull it out to where it should be and have it produce a popping sound (gymnastics accident.)


Holy crap, you are the only other person in the universe I've ever heard of that has the same thing I do with my ribs! Mine are the two floating ribs on the left side. In a bikini it looks almost like i have a 3rd boob (well, like a bony A cup lol :lol:)

Anyway, even though you are in more of a jumping position, you are still collapsed through your sternum. Think of stretching your frontline. I really think now EqT hit it on the head when she said referred ab issue.

*Liz*
May. 19, 2011, 11:12 AM
Holy crap, you are the only other person in the universe I've ever heard of that has the same thing I do with my ribs! Mine are the two floating ribs on the left side. In a bikini it looks almost like i have a 3rd boob (well, like a bony A cup lol :lol:)

Anyway, even though you are in more of a jumping position, you are still collapsed through your sternum. Think of stretching your frontline. I really think now EqT hit it on the head when she said referred ab issue.

Sweet, and here I thought I was the only one ;) Because I'm so thin, there is a bit of an indent beneath my lower ribs. The indent is much larger on the left because those ribs stick out further. If I pull the right ribs out, my ribcage becomes symmetrical again. So yeah, I can totally understand the 3rd boob analogy, lol! Luckily I'm long through the torso so I just look a bid oddly asymmetrical ;)
I belly-flopped the (4" of suede wrapped wood) beam really good when I was l learning to do my back-handspring without a mat or spotter. What's your story?

As for the collapsed sternum, would the correction to that be to think I've got a string pulling me up from sternum to chin to top of head? I'm trying to give myself a visual here. I tell myself every ride to pull my shoulders back, and that keeps me from indulging in the hunter perch/lean most of the time.

My dressage saddle is a 17.5" and all of my other saddles are 16.5". Does it look too big? I am not convinced it's the best saddle for ME, but it fits my gelding like a dream and I don't hate it.

I know the best solution is to take lessons. Believe me, I would love to, but for now I'm doing the best I can with my free resources. I can barely afford the barn I am at, but I have a mare on stall rest (DDFT strain) and I'm trying to get my gelding fit, seen, and leased/sold and this barn hands down meets my needs the best. As soon as my finances are in a better place, lessons are top priority. It's been about 9 months since I had a lesson of any sort :(

ButterflyIris
May. 19, 2011, 01:38 PM
Pilates on the reformer and neuromuscular massage/therapy will change your body tremendously for the better and help strengthen everything without pain.

Best thing I have done for myself and I have weird scoliosis/x-tra cervical rib thing going on.

JB
May. 19, 2011, 01:54 PM
My dressage saddle is a 17.5" and all of my other saddles are 16.5". Does it look too big? I am not convinced it's the best saddle for ME, but it fits my gelding like a dream and I don't hate it.

Generally, you take a bigger Dressage saddle than a CC saddle because of the deeper seat - there is less room for you to sit.

I have conflicting impressions about the dressage saddle picture:
1- it's the wrong shape seat for you. It's not too large, as there is no room for you to slide forward OR back. If nothing else, it may even be a size too small for you, as it appears you're sitting too much on the cantle

2 - the whole saddle is wrong for you, from the shape of the seat (or the size), to the location of the stirrup bars. It seems to me you are compensating with your upper body to account for your leg out in front of you. I'm trying to envision if you can, successfully, bring your leg back underneath you *in this saddle* I THINK you can, as I think the stirrup leather is angled forward. You have to open up your hip flexors and bring your entire leg, starting at the hip, back.

What I'm doubting a bit is whether this saddle will allow you to stay there without struggling.

It's great that it fits your horse, but if it doesn't fit you, and you aren't talented enough (and face it, most of us aren't LOL) to just deal with it like many professionals can, then it's not helping your horse - might as well be a saddle that doesn't fit quite right ;)

alto
May. 19, 2011, 02:33 PM
Given the time lapse between the H/J saddle photos & the dressage saddle photos, I don't think you can have a realistic comparison - that said, you both look relaxed & confident in the H/J version so just use that saddle for all your flatwork: even for low level showing, you'll get better scores in a saddle that you don't struggle against even if it's the "wrong sort"

Talk to the dressage trainer at your barn & see if there's a decent dressage kid that would love to use your gelding for lessons & schooling rides (kid obviously needs to be in a position to be able to actively school your horse in conjunction with weekly lessons). After a couple months, talk to the trainer about the feasibilty of leasing your gelding to a student (even if it's just for his stable fees - you get a horse that's in active training & isn't costing you much on a monthly basis). Your horse will progress much faster in this scenario than with you as the principle rider.
Of course horse is actively for sale/proper lease at this time as well.

Meanwhile, you keep working him in the jump field.

You might also post him in the "Horses looking for riders" thread (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=227167&page=25) & see if that brings you any options.

Petstorejunkie
May. 19, 2011, 02:52 PM
What's your story?

As for the collapsed sternum, would the correction to that be to think I've got a string pulling me up from sternum to chin to top of head? I'm trying to give myself a visual here. I tell myself every ride to pull my shoulders back, and that keeps me from indulging in the hunter perch/lean most of the time.


Haven't the foggiest what caused it, but my floating ribs are indeed mobile, and depending on how tight my lats are I can make them move :eek:

2 visuals that may help with the sternum thing (I tried to take video today of me with rolled shoulders and me with correct posture, but instead concluded i need a new video camera)

1. Think of the string pulling the bottom front of your bra straight up. you'll naturally lift your head as part of the process, so if you think you've lifted your sternum but can still look down with your head... you haven't.
2. this one I learned from Paul Belasik. get into horse stance in front of a sliding door like you are going to push it with your arms... but scootch up to it til your chest is touching it. while keeping your ear, shoulder, hip and heel in the same verticle line, move the door with your chest 1/2". keep your glutes soft.
3. Think of the top of your head reaching to hold up the sky, and your knees pushing down to the ground below you. Step on your horse's hind feet with your heels.

I've found whenever I hear "lengthen your front line" that helps me, and amazingly when I lengthen my front line, my leg also moves down and back.