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

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  • Why does my shoulder hurt when I sit the trot? photos on post #6

    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.
    Last edited by *Liz*; May. 18, 2011, 10:04 AM.

  • #2
    Referred pain from your abdomen.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    • #3
      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.


      • #4
        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.
        chaque pas est fait ensemble


        • #5
          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.

          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


          • Original Poster

            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.

            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.

            Last edited by *Liz*; May. 18, 2011, 10:03 AM.


            • #7
              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.

              He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


              • #8
                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.


                • #9
                  Your neck looks tense.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    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.


                    • #11
                      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.
                      "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


                      • #12
                        You seem to be chin poking and looking left,maybe correcting this could help?


                        • Original Poster

                          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 $$

                          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?


                          • #14
                            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.
                            ... _. ._ .._. .._


                            • #15
                              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 ) 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 . 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!
                              I have Higher Standards... do you?

                              "For the love of my horse, I know who I am."


                              • #16
                                I'm bored, so I decided to make geometry out of your photo
                                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, and with awareness and concentration I'm breaking the habit and riding with better posture.
                                Last edited by Petstorejunkie; May. 18, 2011, 04:17 PM. Reason: link
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Elkie View Post
                                  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!
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                  • #18
                                    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.
                                    2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                                    Our training journal.
                                    1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                                    I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                                      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.

                                      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

                                      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
                                      Last edited by goeslikestink; May. 18, 2011, 07:11 PM.


                                      • #20
                                        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.
                                        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran