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Anyone know of studies about the impact riders take at a posting trot?

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  • Anyone know of studies about the impact riders take at a posting trot?

    Back doc thinks I flop around like a 50 pound bag of potatoes, so I'm trying to find "evidence" that it isn't what she thinks. The core stabilizes and "assists" as we sit our post. But how do you explain this to a non-horse person? You really can't, so I'm looking for something....anything!....that shows posting a trot really isn't as concussive as she thinks it is.

    Please, oh please, I hope some body mechanic peeps out there can help me out!

  • #2
    When your posting the trot your core should stabilize you while the impact follows down through your heel. ESP when jumping you want the impact on landing to radiate down and out your heel than take it with your back. If you have a strong core those muscles wrap around to your back which stabilizes the back more and makes it more secure. This is why back Drs usually tell people with chronic back issues to work out and build up their core muscles over time to help with back pain. As long as you are using your core properly with riding it should not cause back pain, yet if you are not then yes it can cause back pain. The best person to tell you if you are properly posting the trot is a good trainer. IME the hunter perch is not a proper posting technique to help with back issues. More of a dressage based post is better for your back because you are using your core more than your leg.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • #3
      Why don't you put some bubble wrap on your butt and prove it doesn't pop? (aside: I'd love to watch this experiment just in case my hypothesis is wrong)


      • #4
        Tell her it is like doing quarter squats - like getting up and down out of a chair that isn't too close to the ground . . . so maybe like a stool. And you have the momentum of the horse helping to push you up, and the strength of your leg muscles and stability of your core help you control your body (vs. just plopping down) so that it is a smooth movement...
        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


        • #5
          Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
          Why don't you put some bubble wrap on your butt and prove it doesn't pop? (aside: I'd love to watch this experiment just in case my hypothesis is wrong)

          LOL and I want a full report on the horses reaction if the bubble wrap DID in fact pop...

          Can you show her a video of a posting trot? There are many people that ride with out back problems. Back problems usually start from tight hamstrings or tightness someplace......

          Check out the book Pain Free by Pete Egosce. GREAT stretching exercises. I would be a mess without this book.
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          • #6
            Maybe some papers from hippotherapy studies would help. I am not really familiar with the literature, but maybe someone on here can point us in the right direction. Any PTs out there?


            • #7
              Originally posted by doublesstable View Post
              LOL and I want a full report on the horses reaction if the bubble wrap DID in fact pop...
              Hahaha I had the exact same thought when I read that.

              The "doing squats" image is good I think, as well as showing a video of a GOOD rider posting the trot.
              IMO sitting the trot has a LOT more impact on the rider's back, even when rider uses core properly.
              Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


              • #8
                This is what I've been told causes back problems, the sitting trot. I know people over 50 who have lower back problems, much like runners develop knee problems. When a friend started going to the back doctor, one of the first questions he asked was "do you ride"? He's seen many riders with the same problems she's having.

                Originally posted by sophie View Post
                IMO sitting the trot has a LOT more impact on the rider's back, even when rider uses core properly.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                  Why don't you put some bubble wrap on your butt and prove it doesn't pop? (aside: I'd love to watch this experiment just in case my hypothesis is wrong)
                  Isn't the bubble wrap supposed to go ' under ' the saddle to show hotspots /pinchpoints.?
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sign of Grace View Post
                    Back doc thinks I flop around like a 50 pound bag of potatoes
                    Have you explained that if you flopped around like a 50 pound bag of potatoes, that back pain would be the least of your problems after your horse bucked you off and stomped on you?
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Malda View Post
                      This is what I've been told causes back problems, the sitting trot. I know people over 50 who have lower back problems, much like runners develop knee problems. When a friend started going to the back doctor, one of the first questions he asked was "do you ride"? He's seen many riders with the same problems she's having.
                      I suspect that this is true.

                      Several years back a new cemetery was established at the site of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and many remains of soldiers were re-located. As part of that process a team of forensic anthropologists examined the remains. They found that all, even the youngest, showed signs of spinal lesions. In those days the posting trot was not used. The conclusion was that the large amount of time spent at the sitting trot was the likely cause of the lesions.

                      Since I don't ride trotters anymore (I "got religion" about 25 years ago ) I'm no expert on proper posting. But I learned to ride on an Anglo-Arab and learned to post. It was a bit of a challenge to find the "rhythm" but once you find it the effort to maintain it was reasonable. The more even the horse, the easier it was. If the saddle is "whacking you in the butt" you're not doing right.

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                      • #12
                        This bubble wrap idea....

                        ....I think I shall hold this in reserve as a way to torture my students.
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                        • #13
                          I know sitting trot hurts my back sometimes and rising doesn't.
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                          • #14
                            Am J Sports Med. 2009 Nov;37(11):2205-13. doi: 10.1177/0363546509336927. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

                            Magnetic resonance imaging findings of the lumbar spine in elite horseback riders: correlations with back pain, body mass index, trunk/leg-length coefficient, and riding discipline.

                            Kraft CN, Pennekamp PH, Becker U, Young M, Diedrich O, Lüring C, von Falkenhausen M.


                            Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Helios Klinikum Krefeld, Academic Teaching Hospital University of Düsseldorf, Krefeld, Germany. clayton.kraft@helios-kliniken.de



                            Most orthopaedic problems experienced by competitive horseback riders are related to pain in the lower back, hip joint, and hamstring muscles. Riders-especially, show jumpers-are frequently hampered in their performance because of lumbar pain. To date, there has been no research into lumbar disk degeneration in elite competitive riders.


                            Competitive horseback riding accelerates lumbar disk degeneration.

                            STUDY DESIGN:

                            Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.


                            Fifty-eight elite riders (18 men, 40 women; mean age, 32.4 years) and a control group of 30 nonriding volunteers (17 men, 13 women; mean age, 28.7 years) were evaluated for lumbar disk degeneration, cross-sectional area of paraspinal muscles, spondylolysis, and spondylolisthesis, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The prevalence of disk degeneration between the 2 groups was compared, and the relationship was investigated between low back pain (LBP), riding discipline, body mass index (BMI), trunk/leg-length coefficient, and MRI results.


                            Eighty-eight percent of elite riders (n = 51) had a history of LBP, versus 33% of the controls (P < .05). There was no statistical difference for the prevalence of LBP among the different riding disciplines. However, there was a high rate of pathologic T2 signal intensity of the lumbar intervertebral disk among riders-specifically, dressage riders-yet no significant increase when compared with controls. History of LBP symptoms, riding discipline, BMI, and trunk/leg-length ratio had no significant effect on the development of lumbar disk degeneration. Occult fractures of the pars interarticularis and manifest spondylolysis were not seen for any rider. Two controls had spondylolisthesis Meyerding grade 1 not associated with back pain.


                            Although riders have a high prevalence of LBP, there is no conclusive MRI evidence to suggest that the cause lies in undue disk degeneration, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, or pathologic changes of the paraspinal muscles of the lumbar spine.

                            PMID: 19574474 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

                            Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2007 Mar;21(1):29-33.

                            [Influence of the riding discipline and riding intensity on the incidence of back pain in competitive horseback riders].

                            [Article in German]

                            Kraft CN, Urban N, Ilg A, Wallny T, Scharfstädt A, Jäger M, Pennekamp PH.


                            Klinik und Poliklinik für Orthopädie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf. clayton.kraft@med.uni-duesseldorf.de



                            The connection between morphologic changes of the spine and the intensity of training has been assessed for a number of sport activities. The influence of horseback riding on the spine has only rarely been evaluated. The aim of our study was to evaluate to what degree horseback riders suffer from back pain and whether there is an association between this parameter and the category i. e. the intensity of horseback riding. Furthermore we wanted to judge whether riding may have a positive effect on pre-existent back pain.


                            508 horseback riders (63.2 % females; 36.8 % males) competing in either dressage, showjumping or vaulting were interviewed using a questionnaire. Apart from biometric data, the intensity with which riding was performed and the localisation and intensity (VAS) of back pain was assessed. Furthermore, in the case of existing back pain, riders were asked whether different riding disciplines and paces changed the intensity of pain.


                            300 dressage riders (59.1 %), 188 showjumpers (37.0 %) and 20 vaulters (3.9 %) with an average age of 33.5 Jahre (12 - 77 years) were questioned. The incidence of back pain was 72.5 %. A significant correlation between back pain and riding discipline respectively gender or riding level could not be found. Discrepancies in VAS-score for dressage riders (3.95 +/- 0.13), show jumpers (4.10 +/- 0.16) and vaulters (3.76 +/- 0.5) were marginal and not significant (p > 0.05). Overall 58.7 % resp. 15.2 % reported to have pain in the lumbar i.e cervical spine. Despite the fact that a large fraction of dressage riders claimed to have problems in these spine areas with 57.7 % resp. 68.8 %, this finding was not significant compared to the other riding disciplines. While 61.6 % of dressage riders reported an improvement of their back pain when riding, this was only the case in 40.9 % of show jumpers.


                            Compared to the general population, a high incidence of back pain is found among riders. A significant correlation between the intensity of riding or the riding discipline and frequency or severity of back pain could not be found. For riders with pre-existent back pain the pace "walk" seems to have a positive influence on pain intensity.

                            PMID: 17385102 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE


                            • #15
                              I had two back surgeries 4/5 years ago. Microdiskectomy at L5/S1 - twice. Apparently I did not learn my lesson the first time... I did two years of pilates after the surgery for my core stability at the request of my neurosurgeon. I returned to riding in August of last year, low fences/hunter and just started dressage with my 7 year old mare. I am not a competitor and not in aggressive training. Just local shows, trail, clinics... but I am at the barn every day.

                              I rode every day for 10 years between 11 & 21, owned horses & went to college. A pretty typical re-rider story.

                              There are three things that take away my pain: pilates, walking and riding.

                              I specifically bought my horse as she has some of the softest gates ever. I rarely sit the trot so we will see what happens as I progress with dressage. I have been very, very careful and have learned that posting does nothing to hurt me - in fact, I think it opens up my hips which has reduced the residual pain. Sometimes in two point I get low back spasms so, I have had to be careful there - more pilates for my core is helping.

                              Thanks @Wendy for posting the studies. They are fascinating.

                              OP, maybe find an ortho doc who works with riders. I was lucky that my neuro guy works on a ton of athletes and his goal was to get me going with sports again... after I spent my year or two doing pilates for my core. I practice my breathing and a modified roll up when riding to release my spine and do a lot of conscious work at the walk to loosen my hips and lower spine.

                              I won't tell you there are not days my girl gets lunged because its better to sit out a night, but I really think my riding is helping my back and not hurting.

                              Good luck!!!!!


                              • #16
                                Search TheHorse.com. I recall seeing a few blurbs on the effect of the impact between posting and sitting trot.


                                • #17
                                  I have horrible back pain with a long history of bulging and herniated discs in the lumbar region. Actually have an appointment in 2 weeks to see about fixing it once and for all.

                                  Posting I can do all day long. 2 minutes of sit trot and I want to curl up in a fetal position and DIE.


                                  • #18
                                    Whenever anyone suggests that my back must hurt because of all the "bouncing" in the saddle I just look at them and in a very obnoxious voice say, "excuse me, but I don't bounce." And for the record, as someone who has had back surgery, the only time my back does not hurt is when I am riding on a regular basis.


                                    • #19
                                      I actually had someone take short videos of me trotting and cantering and showed them to my physical therapist.

                                      He was able to see what my back was doing at each gait and work with me based on that.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                                        Why don't you put some bubble wrap on your butt and prove it doesn't pop? (aside: I'd love to watch this experiment just in case my hypothesis is wrong)
                                        My DD (she's 5) had a gas attack on her pony. It sounded like bubble wrap....
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