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My hips are locking up...Help please

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  • My hips are locking up...Help please

    I have always had issues with my hips locking up, for lack of a better word. It happens one at a time, and the pain is bad when it happens. It sometimes gets tight in the front where the upper thigh connects to the hip, and sometimes in my butt. It started a few years ago when I started riding dressage. But seems to be getting worse, more often. I can usually stand up in my stirrups and lean forward and it will lighten up. It does remain sore for a few hours. It happens more on my older, more trained horse, but sometime happens on the young horse too.

    Anyone else have this problem? Any tips or exercises to help prevent them?

  • #2
    Stretching exercises daily.


    • #3
      need some clarification........

      This sounds somewhat suspicious so to make sure:

      First sentence is "always"........

      Fourth sentence is "started several years ago with dressage"...

      So which is it?
      The first is indicative of a genetic instability.

      Second is indicative of arthritic changes.......which could be a byproduct of the instability.

      Also, age and number of years on the horse would be helpful.

      Medical Mike
      equestrian medical researcher


      • #4
        If you can find a Balimo practioner/instructor in your area...run to him/her as fast as you can. If not go on their website and order the "Program for Better Riding" Book 3 The Sternum, Spine and Ilio-Sacral Joint and the book "Effective Teaching and Riding", both by Eckhart Meyners. I have hip problems from a previous fracture. Some of the excercises from this book are posting while alternating one hip pushed more forward, than the other. Posting and sitting to different parts of your seat (too much to the front, right seat bone, left seat bone, and pockets of you pants...on purpose. This can also be done on one of those exercise balls.) Walking four ways also helps me...you walk on your toes, then the outside of your feet, then the inside, then your heels...alternating back and forth before I get on. It looks silly, but do it in the aisleway while you are getting your tack together, or as you are going out to catch your horse in the pasture!


        • #5
          Lie on your back point your toes and one leg at a time draw HUGE circles with your pointed toe slowly. Be sure to keep both butt cheeks on the floor, and your back flat (no arching)

          do that daily and trot over some cavalettis with no stirrups, focus on breathing, relaxing and sinking. Sometimes mine will give off a loud pop, and then the pain is gone

          good luck!
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • Original Poster

            I typed the above in a a hurry, and so I sorry that it was not clear. I have always had trouble with my hips locking up, but not while riding. It started while riding when I started dressage. I found information on another message board since this one went down shortly after posting on here. It is caused by a tight or inflamed piriformis, which is very close to the sciatic nerve (the largest in the body). I causes sciatic like pain. So there was a website that had exercises to stretch the muscle that I am having problems. I have been doing the exercises and I plan to show the horse that it happens on today. I haven't ridden him since my issue on wedensday. I hope the exercises help.

            Oh, I am 26 and I have been riding this horse for 4 years concentrating in dressage the last 3 years. He is wide Appalossa gelding that looks more warmblood like than appaloosa. We are showing first level. It happens most often when doing lateral work, but not always.


            • #7
              Piriformis muscle inflammation is supposed to be very common. I had it as well. One doc told me it's very common with hunt seat folks.


              • #8
                NOt so sure..........

                It sounds more complicated than simple piriformis pain.

                Lateral work COULD involve the piriformis especially if your hip is turning out as you try and give your leg aid.

                Could also be your adductor changing the orientation of the femur in the hip socket. That would account for the pain in the front of the hip.

                So based on the history you provided, I would say you are dealing with "something you were born with". The size of the horse puts your body at its limits.

                Reasonably speaking a localized strengthening program should improve your condition AND I would suggest a visit to an orthopod "just to see". My guess would be some type of instability and maybe non-typical hip joint conformation.(do you walk with more toe in or out or have a fair amount of knock knee.

                Best of Luck,
                Medical Mike
                equestrian medical researcher


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bossmare18 View Post
                  I have always had issues with my hips locking up, for lack of a better word. It happens one at a time, and the pain is bad when it happens. It sometimes gets tight in the front where the upper thigh connects to the hip, and sometimes in my butt. It started a few years ago when I started riding dressage. But seems to be getting worse, more often. I can usually stand up in my stirrups and lean forward and it will lighten up. It does remain sore for a few hours. It happens more on my older, more trained horse, but sometime happens on the young horse too.

                  Anyone else have this problem? Any tips or exercises to help prevent them?
                  have you actually got your stirrups set up properly for your length of leg
                  also do you ride centrallyand distribute you weight evenly down your back and into your ankles - again stirrup lenght helps with correct position
                  do you ride one side ie some people tend to ride croaked ie stronger on the right than the left and so are riding uneven which in turn makes the horse croaked

                  have a saddle check your saddle if unsure as a good saddler ie a mastercraftsmen can tell easily by the state of your saddle of how your riding your horse
                  and is your saddle fitted to both you and the horse in question
                  if ones been riding like it for serveral years and only started when you started dressage then your positon on the horse is all wrong and over time it will cause you damage
                  so get the saddle checked out - by a qaulified mastercraftmens
                  and then work on your position

                  legs open and of the horse have no contact with the horse
                  simple way to check is get on- the horse and place your hand in btween your knee and the saddle if theres a huge gap then theres no contact to the horse
                  which in turn means that your supporting your weight into the bridle area
                  rather than sitting centrally with your core position and your working with the horse in a fixed way rather than an independant seat secure leg and light hands


                  • #10
                    In my case the piriformis was spasming, possibly in part because of a shattered L5 disk. The piriformis would spasm, on one side then the other, and then the spasm would spread to every single muscle in my back. I actually had to have post-operative pain shots, and even they barely touched it. It was absolutely incredible. I would not even wish it on egon.


                    • #11
                      Agree with Mike

                      I think Mike's right, it could involve the piriformis but more likely it's something structural. This is near and dear to my heart! 5 weeks ago I had arthroscopic surgery on my hip. I had a bone spur on the femoral neck and when my leg was raised laterally, is when in the saddle, the spur dug into the labrum (lining) of the hip joint. It started when I had a really WIDE mare in training, and made worse when my trainer had me sit a little different. I did everything else prior to surgery, the only relief I had was cortisone injections, which worked for about a month a pop. My surgeon shaved off the spur and cleaned up the torn labrum. I have a spur on the other leg, but time will tell if it needs the same treatment. Go see an ortho, or 2. If you try cortisone and it works for some amount of time, chances are good it's an issue in the joint. If surgery is recommended find a GOOD surgeon (mine is the team physician for an NFL team!) who works on hips.


                      • Original Poster

                        Ahhh...you guys are great and got me thinking. I have one hip that is higher than the other, I don't remember which one is higher/lower. That was diagnosed by a chiropractor doing my work up on lower back after a fall. The main complaint at that point was lower back pain. But the chiropractor adjusted my back and hip. I haven't been in several years, maybe that is the reason for the pain vs. starting dressage. So maybe the chiropractor was doing more help than I realized.

                        And I just asked my mother about the born that way theory. She said that she forgot what it was called by my hips turn out. I am unsure how that relates, but it sounds like a possible problem causing "hip" pain.

                        Oh I showed the horse today that I have been having so much issue with and I was fine. I have been doing the exercises listed on spinehealth.com. I guess that is the reason for no pain today. I guess I need to give it more time.

                        Thanks again! Any feedback is helpful.


                        • #13
                          I recognize those patterns!
                          For me, it's a combo of piriformis, psoas (the front of the hip pain, pronounced like so-az, or "so as" as in "...so, as I was saying...", or I think of it as "sore a**" ) and SI joint issues.

                          I recommend a going to a Massage Therapist, or a PT who does hands-on work.
                          Get them to figure out exactly which muscles are too tight and too loose in your specific case, and which way your hips usually go out. Then get their list of stretches that apply specifically to you, and do them. Most usually have ways to put your hips back, or your chiro can. But if you can combine it all into one co-pay, do.

                          It's great that you are motivated enough to do the ones of the website!

                          But, in my case finding a trained pro who helped find exactly the sources of the issue, then that meant the stretching and exercises were what worked for me specifically, rather than occasionally on my own doing stuff that ended up either doing nothing for me or doing more harm than good.

                          My hips *tend* to go out based on which side I get on, so I switch sides to help them.

                          I now do 2 stretches for piriformis and one for psoas/hip flexors. Originally I did them before and after riding, and 2x per day. Now, it's needed much less often.


                          • Original Poster

                            Hips are sore again

                            So yesterday I had a show on the wide horse and my hips didn't lock up! I was encouraged, but this morning they are really sore. Bummer...


                            • Original Poster


                              I haven't even thought about the saddle. I wonder if it is making it worse. I will get up with the saddle fitter and schedule an appointment.

                              Oh, about the stirrups, I have had the length approved by experienced people. Even an international biomechanics instructor.

                              Thanks again, ya'll are the best!