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Knee Pain While Riding and Physical Therapy

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  • Knee Pain While Riding and Physical Therapy

    I wanted to get some feedback to see if anyone else has had any similar experience - sorry this is long.

    My right knee hurts when I ride western but only after about 30-40 minutes of riding. If I get off and walk around it will stop hurting. I also ride English, and the knee does not usually hurt but that leg will get 'tired' (if I ride for a long time for instance in a lesson that leg will shake after I ride but only for a short time). This has been going on for YEARS. Finally went to the doctor and X-rays were clean so he sent me to physical therapy. The PT guy said my thigh muscles were not evenly developed with the muscles on the outside of my thigh being much stronger than the inside so this was causing my knee cap to shift slightly which resulted in the pain. He indicated that pain was probably related to cartilage around the knee getting pressure. I have been doing exercises to strengthen my upper leg and after three weeks when I rode yesterday for quite a while it did seem to hurt less.

    Since I rode primarily English for so long (20+ years) prior to riding western, could the uneven muscle development be from something I do while riding English? I have ridden with lots of trainers and never had one indicate an issue with my legs such as pinching with my knee, etc.

    I have also tried different western saddles, stirrup length, etc. with the same results.

    Anyone else experience anything like this?

  • #2
    According to my PT, this is pretty much the norm for riders. The muscles responsible for adduction (pulling inward) are much stronger than those on the outside of our legs and hips. The exception to this is the VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique). Here's a link to a for-profit web site, but it explains it pretty well: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/re...ises/vmo-rehab. I'm recovering from a tibial plateau fracture and meniscus damage, and am working on this too since my patella isn't tracking straight. Good luck!
    Last edited by Kestrel; Apr. 21, 2013, 08:56 PM. Reason: typo


    • #3
      Do you post the trot in your Western saddle vs your English saddle? It could be not posting vs. posting - the immobility of your joints could lead to stiffness.

      Also, it might be due to you trying to turn the fenders in your Western saddle vs. your English saddle.

      Everyone has a stronger side and a weaker side - so continue with your PT exercises to improve your strength. Maybe try some off-set Western stirrups to see if that helps?
      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


      • Original Poster

        I twisted the stirrups in the western saddle hoping it would help but it did not. I post the extended trot and sit the jog.

        Any more comments are welcome.



        • #5
          I have ridden in English saddles for about 30 years. All Western saddles make my knees hurt. Even before I had surgery and a giant permanent articular cartilage tear, ROFL. It's just not what my muscles "know" so I find them very uncomfortable (even 'nice' ones). I stop the pain by not riding in them. Is there a particular reason you must use a Western saddle, i.e. you have switched disciplines?
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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          • #6
            Even after twisting the stirrups for a while, they STILL would prefer to be flat against the horse sides. So even well worn saddles CAN put a small pull on your foot, which will affect your knee with pain.

            The remedy I am going to is what the older long distance Trail Riders do, which is wrapping the stirrup fender to keep the stirrup turned straight for your foot. If done right, there is absolutely no pull inward on your foot by the stirrup.

            I have the fenders wrapped, now need to get the time in the saddle to see if it works for my knee. The local Tack store does this wrapping service on plenty of saddles now, get a lot of compliments back on how helpful it is to those pained knees or ankles. Riders get off with no pain after HOURS in the saddle riding. Just haven't had the weather or ground surface to ride on locally yet.

            Here is a set of directions, with photos on how to wrap the stirrup leather and twist it for the correct position. I soaked my stirrup leather before wrapping, made it a lot easier to bend and hold while wrapping. Then let it dry in position. The stirrups DO HANG like the picture, no trying to be flat on the horse at all.



            • #7
              Yep - the fender makes your stirrups turn your foot more/put pressure on your knees.

              I had knee issues when I hadn't ridden for a while and got back into riding until I built up strength in my quads. I wore one of those neoprene knee braces with the hole in the center which seemed to help support me kneecap until the strength was there.
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


              • Original Poster

                The stirrups are wrapped sorry I did not refer to it correctly. Anyone have suggestions of exercise to strengthen my leg more evenly?



                • #9
                  Your PT should be able to give you recommendations, but if it is a difference between your abductors and adductors, then -- simple as it sounds -- you should be able to isolate one over the other using adductor/abductor machines at the gym (if your gym has them). (Not that I'm a PT or a fitness expert, just someone who rides and goes to the gym.)
                  "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


                  • #10
                    You might want to try stirrup turners. Just Google them and you'll find a variety of types and price ranges.

                    My knees always hurt when I ride, English or Western. I think that's how some of us are built.
                    In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE


                    • #11
                      I have a similar problem when riding western. Student PT here. Where is the pain located? Is it on the inside or outside of the knee? With me, I feel the problem relates to stretching of the outside tendons on both my knees. I can't stand a western saddle for longer than 30-40 minutes, but have no problems with an English saddle. I think it's to do with the saddle width and trying to maintain the same level of contact as I do with an English saddle. I end up bowing my legs around the horse which puts stress on the lateral (outside) structures.


                      • Original Poster

                        The pain is on the outside/under the knee cap.


                        • #13
                          Sounds like patellofemoral dysfunction.What's confusing is the location. Have you ever injured the meniscus on that leg/ had an other injury? I would suspect some arthritis as well depending on your age, but if the x-rays where clean, it's probably due to muscle imbalance and improper biomechanics.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bopper View Post
                            The pain is on the outside/under the knee cap.
                            That's exactly where I get the knee pain. On my current, synthetic western saddle I switched out the fenders for regular english leathers. I haven't had any problems with my knees since.
                            In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE


                            • #15
                              I only ride in her dressage saddle but have had the same diagnosis of uneven muscle development in thighs causing me pain. I did some PT and keep up with exercises. I have been told by two rehab specialist that this is a very common situation for equestrians


                              • #16
                                Folks do realize the OP was in 2013? Might be better to start a newer post for more current information.


                                • #17
                                  This thread was bumped by now-deleted spam.