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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2005
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    114

    Default Lower Back Pain

    I wanted to hear from people who are suffering from lower back pain after they ride, and maybe get some tips on things I should or shouldn't be doing.

    Last month, I started having lower back pain after every single ride and it seems to be getting worse not better. The pain is so bad that for 2 or 3 days post ride, I my back is sore enough that I can barely stand up straight. It's especially bad this week, 4 days post-ride and I'm still having a hard time walking and I'm not able to stand fully upright. I'm only 24, I'm in good shape and pretty fit, I haven't fallen off or been injured recently. I don't have any past injuries that would be causing this either. It makes no sense.

    Up until October I was riding about 5 horses, 3 days a week. Then I got a "real" job in the city and only have time to ride my own horse in a one-hour lesson Sat, and Sun. We've only been jumping about 2'6" (I normally show at 3'9") because our horses get a break over winter. One would think that less riding would put less stress on the body, but maybe not. I'd like to see if there is anything I can do about this before I have to go to the doctor because I have a very high deductible. Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
    Posts
    5,286

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    is it muscular pain? If it is, my guess would be that your core has gotten weaker from picking up your "real" job and riding less. Muscle pain in the lower back usually means that your back muscles are overcompensating for your weak ab muscles. At least I know thats the cause of my back pain, especially after doing correct sitting trot. Yeouch.

    The best exercise (I think) for core work is planks. You can do lots of variations of this exercise, I would google for some ideas. Also, try stretching after you ride.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2005
    Location
    England
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    10,872

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    Quote Originally Posted by KateKat View Post
    is it muscular pain? If it is, my guess would be that your core has gotten weaker from picking up your "real" job and riding less. Muscle pain in the lower back usually means that your back muscles are overcompensating for your weak ab muscles. At least I know thats the cause of my back pain, especially after doing correct sitting trot. Yeouch.

    The best exercise (I think) for core work is planks. You can do lots of variations of this exercise, I would google for some ideas. Also, try stretching after you ride.
    I agree with this. My back was torture doing sitting trot. I started working on strengthening my muscles, and the pain has gone away. I also stretched before and after riding. It's also a good idea to warm up for ten mins before you get on. I did it by hand walking my horse.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
    Posts
    2,900

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    Doing crunches several times a day to strengthen my stomach/core muscles has really helped relieve my lower back pain. I get spasms in my muscles, and the crunches have really helped. My core muscles need to do more work then my back muscles!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2006
    Location
    Sno County
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    3,890

    Default

    I also would/do get lower back pain after a ride and then felt pain in my side towards the back. Thought it was a pulled muscle but when it didn't go away after a few days I made an appointment with the Dr. and found out it was a muscle spasm. He sent me to get some x-rays and found out yesterday that I have Severe Disk Degeneration Disease as the cause of the lower back pain. I have an appointment with a back specialist and will find out about what I can do to improve the situation.

    Fortunately, this is fairly common but will progress and there are surgical options. Dr. did recommend that I give up riding but they'll have to tear the reins from my cold dead fingers before that happens.

    Long story short, it might be more than just weakened core muscles. Get it checked out sooner rather than later.
    Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 19, 2009
    Posts
    159

    Default

    I have found ab strength to be one cause, but does your new job involve much sitting? Tight hamstrings and hip flexors seem to coincide with my bad back days. Stretching throughout the day really helps.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2003
    Location
    Back in the South!! Alabama
    Posts
    1,336

    Default

    I've got a degenerative disk in L5. Mine is an over use issue from running; middle, high-school and collegiately. I see the chiropractor and get put on "the rack" every two weeks (they call it disk decompression or something non-torture related, lol).

    I went in b/c I felt like I had something pinched in the upper back and left finding out that the issue that was bothering me less was much more severe. The chiro has been a great thing for me generally.

    The primary causes of lower back pain (when not caused by a injury/abnormality) is lack of core strength and tight hamstrings. I find that the more I stretch my back AND hamstrings, the better my back feels.

    DW is jump saddle shopping and does not have any known back issues, but finds that her old jump saddle makes her L back sore. Saddles that are more appropriate her for crazy long legs don't make her sore. Might be something to consider as well.
    www.foxwoodfarms.biz
    "There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots."
    -Member of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique!
    http://community.webshots.com/user/wlrottge



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 28, 2001
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    4,374

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    I went through the same thing in my mid 20s. It got so bad that one day I got to the barn and just couldn't ride. My solution was to go through 4 weeks of chiropractic appts. (after x rays to show no disc or serious problems) and it got me back to my old self. I began riding in a back brace after that and I tried to remember to always stretch out as well.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Posts
    1,954

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn trails View Post
    I also would/do get lower back pain after a ride and then felt pain in my side towards the back. Thought it was a pulled muscle but when it didn't go away after a few days I made an appointment with the Dr. and found out it was a muscle spasm. He sent me to get some x-rays and found out yesterday that I have Severe Disk Degeneration Disease as the cause of the lower back pain. I have an appointment with a back specialist and will find out about what I can do to improve the situation.

    Fortunately, this is fairly common but will progress and there are surgical options. Dr. did recommend that I give up riding but they'll have to tear the reins from my cold dead fingers before that happens.

    Long story short, it might be more than just weakened core muscles. Get it checked out sooner rather than later.
    Hey there, twin!

    Lower back pain and I are old friends (enemies?). I went through the same thing as Mntn trails. Seemingly random, severe back pain diagnosed as muscle spasms. Went on muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories, got better. A couple years later started experiencing some seriously AWFUL back pain again, was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Went to PT, got better, then a few months - a year later THE BACK PAIN RETURNED! Finally went to a spine surgeon who found out I actually have DDD (degenerative disc disease), which is unusual for a person in their 20's but not unheard of. I also have an extra half vertebrae, floating ribs, and mild scoliosis. Sweet! The nice doc gave me some vicodin (barely touched the pain!) and I went back to faithfully working out my core. No problems since. **(ETA for Mntn trails: my surgeon says that DDD actually improves as you age since the rogue disc actually hardens as you get older, acting like a long-acting natural fusion of your vertebrae. If PT and time don't fix you, there is always surgery to fuse your spine in that spot. good luck!)

    SO my suggestion to you is: GO SEE A DOCTOR. Back pain is not something to mess around with! If you can't/have no insurance/whatever, then start with a core strengthening regimen and remember to get up and walk around during the day if you sit a lot at your job.

    POSTURE IS IMPORTANT. Be concious of supporting yourself in a proper posture with your core muscles; rounding or hollowing your low back will only put stress on your spine in icky ways.
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

    PONY'TUDE



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    11,031

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by caradino View Post
    SO my suggestion to you is: GO SEE A DOCTOR. Back pain is not something to mess around with! If you can't/have no insurance/whatever, then start with a core strengthening regimen and remember to get up and walk around during the day if you sit a lot at your job.

    POSTURE IS IMPORTANT. Be concious of supporting yourself in a proper posture with your core muscles; rounding or hollowing your low back will only put stress on your spine in icky ways.
    I agree (and see a REAL doctor first, not just a chiro, as some are not so bad and a lot are quacks bordering on dangerous). I find I get a lot less back pain riding as an adult because (from taking up skating and dance) I worked a lot more on developing my core than I did as a kid.

    HOWEVER--from riding as a kid, I bashed my hip hard enough it's out of wack, and that can cause back pain. Didn't find out until a PT friend did an adjustment on me after I mentioned hip pain and he discovered one side of my pelvis is higher than the other (an impact injury and the only other patient he's had with exactly the same thing? Professional equestrian.) It might just be muscle causing your back pain, but recent development + getting worse means you should absolutely get it checked out before trying core work to fix it.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    375

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    I agree (and see a REAL doctor first, not just a chiro, as some are not so bad and a lot are quacks bordering on dangerous). I find I get a lot less back pain riding as an adult because (from taking up skating and dance) I worked a lot more on developing my core than I did as a kid.

    HOWEVER--from riding as a kid, I bashed my hip hard enough it's out of wack, and that can cause back pain. Didn't find out until a PT friend did an adjustment on me after I mentioned hip pain and he discovered one side of my pelvis is higher than the other (an impact injury and the only other patient he's had with exactly the same thing? Professional equestrian.) It might just be muscle causing your back pain, but recent development + getting worse means you should absolutely get it checked out before trying core work to fix it.
    Hey, that's what I have - a hip that is higher than the other from a combination of an impact injury and then ACL reconstruction and associated lack of movement! Going to an Integrative Medicine doctor in D.C. Just had my consultation appointment and will go back next month for a follow up. My hip has so much scar tissue that it is unadjustable without doing some serious damage. The goal is to breakdown the scar tissue with lidocaine and then work on realigning the pelvis.

    Core exercises actually make my back pain much, much worse. A few stretches are better than situps and any other core stuff.
    Alison Howard
    Homestead Farms, Maryland www.freshorganicvegetables.com



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2004
    Location
    Whidbey Is, Wash.
    Posts
    10,313

    Default

    Are you feeling any insecurities since you started riding less?

    I went from riding all the time and being very brave, to a period of no/little riding, and when I tried riding a greenie I was struck with horrible horrible lower back pain. Completely stress-related from losing confidence in my skills to ride AND to riding a filly in which I had absolutely zero trust. I was constantly in pain, a big ball of agony in the center of my lower back. Traded her for a more mature mount who only pitches an occasional hissy fit, and did some chiro stuff for various pains caused by my line of work, and all better.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep. 16, 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    633

    Default

    For me, getting a new saddle helped tremendously. My dressage saddle was old, with compressed flocking and a lowish cantle. Because it wasn't supportive enough I was kind of 'sticking my butt out' and arching my back. Also, my instructor mentioned that ex-dancers (which I am) tend to sit up 'too' straight and arch their back. so I was too much on the pubic bone, too little on the seat bones. My new saddle has a deeper seat/higher cantle, differently shaped twist, and much better flocking. Sitting deeper and really paying attention to my core has made all the difference--I used to go home from a lesson in the evening and go straight to my heating pad, which i kept on my back all night long (until I fell asleep and it turned itself off automatically). Now I can't remember the last time I hurt.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2006
    Location
    Sno County
    Posts
    3,890

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by caradino View Post
    Hey there, twin!

    Lower back pain and I are old friends (enemies?). I went through the same thing as Mntn trails. Seemingly random, severe back pain diagnosed as muscle spasms. Went on muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories, got better. A couple years later started experiencing some seriously AWFUL back pain again, was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Went to PT, got better, then a few months - a year later THE BACK PAIN RETURNED! Finally went to a spine surgeon who found out I actually have DDD (degenerative disc disease), which is unusual for a person in their 20's but not unheard of. I also have an extra half vertebrae, floating ribs, and mild scoliosis. Sweet! The nice doc gave me some vicodin (barely touched the pain!) and I went back to faithfully working out my core. No problems since. **(ETA for Mntn trails: my surgeon says that DDD actually improves as you age since the rogue disc actually hardens as you get older, acting like a long-acting natural fusion of your vertebrae. If PT and time don't fix you, there is always surgery to fuse your spine in that spot. good luck!)

    SO my suggestion to you is: GO SEE A DOCTOR. Back pain is not something to mess around with! If you can't/have no insurance/whatever, then start with a core strengthening regimen and remember to get up and walk around during the day if you sit a lot at your job.

    POSTURE IS IMPORTANT. Be concious of supporting yourself in a proper posture with your core muscles; rounding or hollowing your low back will only put stress on your spine in icky ways.
    I looked into the surgery options and the fusion seems a lot more limiting in what you can do upper body wise. I would go for the more invasive artificial disk if my insurance covered it. However, the popular thinking is to exhaust all other options - acupuncture, chiro, meds, before going the surgery route. Back feels pretty good today by comparison. Still taking the anti-inflammatories.
    Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2007
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    627

    Default

    I have the opposite problem - my lower back and down into my right leg hurts and pinches so badly during regular activity but goes away and I feel better after riding. Sitting in a chair is torture, but stretching down around a horse makes everything better!! I don't know what I'd do if riding made it worse!



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2008
    Location
    now in KCMO, and plan to stay there
    Posts
    3,235

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    Quote Originally Posted by HyperCat View Post
    I wanted to hear from people who are suffering from lower back pain after they ride, and maybe get some tips on things I should or shouldn't be doing.

    Last month, I started having lower back pain after every single ride and it seems to be getting worse not better. The pain is so bad that for 2 or 3 days post ride, I my back is sore enough that I can barely stand up straight. It's especially bad this week, 4 days post-ride and I'm still having a hard time walking and I'm not able to stand fully upright. I'm only 24, I'm in good shape and pretty fit, I haven't fallen off or been injured recently. I don't have any past injuries that would be causing this either. It makes no sense.

    Up until October I was riding about 5 horses, 3 days a week. Then I got a "real" job in the city and only have time to ride my own horse in a one-hour lesson Sat, and Sun. We've only been jumping about 2'6" (I normally show at 3'9") because our horses get a break over winter. One would think that less riding would put less stress on the body, but maybe not. I'd like to see if there is anything I can do about this before I have to go to the doctor because I have a very high deductible. Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Get a gel seat-saver for your saddle?
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    997

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    I'm like you, OP, where I won't go to the dr until I drag myself there. But this is really something you should spend the money on and have checked out. Some simple x rays can usually show if there's a problem. If they try to order an MRI and you don't want to pay for that, you have the right to refuse, get another opinion, etc.

    It could be anything mentioned previously. But you might as well at least see a dr and have some x rays taken. If things appear fine I would go to a chiro next. Mine gave me stretches to do that really help, when I do them consistently. Yoga can also be a very good thing for back and muscle issues, but you need to get that back checked out first.

    I frequently did some Pilates moves that targeted abs, but quit doing them bc I noticed my back had started to bother me on days I did them. Bummer!



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    6,912

    Default

    Lots of good advice here, esp. re: the hamstrings being part of the equation and not to mess around with this stuff without a doctor's advice.

    However, I am embarrassed to say that my lower back pain from riding went away after my dressage instructor taught me to ride sit more correctly in the saddle. We're not talking anything dramatic, just the difference between the "eventer's hunch" and carrying my hands too low and lifting my hands up and looking forward. We're talking the difference between straining my stabilizer muscle so badly that on TWO occasions I couldn't even WALK for several days, to not having any pain at all. Keep in mind, I'm not a noob--I rode for 18 years before this instructor adjusted my posture just that wee little bit.

    I also use a Thinline pad under my saddle. Every ride, every time. My horse doesn't need the shock absorption of the Thinline, but I do!
    ________________________
    Resident COTH saddle nerd. (CYA: Not a pro, just a long-time enthusiast!)
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 19, 2010
    Posts
    419

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArabDiva View Post
    For me, getting a new saddle helped tremendously. My dressage saddle was old, with compressed flocking and a lowish cantle. Because it wasn't supportive enough I was kind of 'sticking my butt out' and arching my back. Also, my instructor mentioned that ex-dancers (which I am) tend to sit up 'too' straight and arch their back. so I was too much on the pubic bone, too little on the seat bones. My new saddle has a deeper seat/higher cantle, differently shaped twist, and much better flocking. Sitting deeper and really paying attention to my core has made all the difference--I used to go home from a lesson in the evening and go straight to my heating pad, which i kept on my back all night long (until I fell asleep and it turned itself off automatically). Now I can't remember the last time I hurt.
    Same here. I couldn't figure out why my back hurt so much after riding since I do Pilates on the reformer twice a week and work out on the other days, including LOTS of core work. Just got a new saddle and *poof* back pain is gone.

    However, I would still go to the doctor since it could be something else.
    Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.

    "I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2005
    Posts
    114

    Default

    Thanks everyone for your responses. I made a doctors appointments for next week, so well see what she says.

    I don't think it's my saddle causing the pain, mine is custom and could not be any more perfect/comfortable if I tried. I also don't think it's nerves. I have a saint of a horse who even when I mess up will always find the right distance and most importantly she will never ever stop. I love her and trust her completely!

    I think you guys maybe on to something with it being a strength/flexibility issue. I sit in front of a computer all day. I'm certainly not using my body as much as I did, though I wouldn't think my body would deteriorate that far, that fast. I'm hoping it's something like that and not anything more serious.

    jn4jenny - I have a ThinLine that I love and never ride without too!



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