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  • Sciatica

    Does anyone have problems with sciatica? After about an hour and a half in the saddle, I get pain in my sciatic nerve that makes riding extremely uncomfortable. I wonder if there are better saddle/stirrup/posture positions that would help me increase my time in the saddle. I love long trail rides, but I’m unable to handle multiple hours in the saddle.

    Suggestions or advice?


  • #2
    several things

    Position, ask someone to look at you from behind and make sure that you are sitting straight not collapsed to one side.
    Maybe a better saddle
    Lots of core strenghtening exercises.
    Joint supplements.
    a therapy laser.

    I have had to do all of these at one time of another to keep riding!
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



    • #3
      My sciatica mostly takes the form of numbness. Which I think is quite a bit better than pain, but is not really conducive to riding. My foot will go dead, and some of my leg at times.

      Mine is totally aggravated by the wrong saddle, occasionally by the wrong stirrup length. It took literally 18 months to find one saddle that I could ride in, that fit the horse as well. Wasn't so hard for ONE of us to be happy, but for both to be happy at the same time is nothing short of miraculous.

      Chiropractic helps me (mine is from a crooked pelvis and pinched disks) quite a bit. Other than that... <shrugs> it's a bit hit or miss. But definitely, definitely aggravated by different saddles.
      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


      • Original Poster


        I do think that my sciatica is aggravated by one of my saddles. I can ride a bit longer on my gelding and pony, who have more narrow saddles. My mare has a broader back and requires a wider saddle. I think the "spread" is tough on me. I'm sure that I should do more warm up stretches.
        Last edited by GallopHer; Apr. 13, 2009, 03:51 PM. Reason: spelling


        • #5
          While it will still bother me on occasion.....I've found that my sciatica flares up the most often (if not every single ride) when I'm out of shape. It really doesn't have to be much that I'm out of shape by even a tiny loss of fitness can make the sciatica flare up really bad. I've also found that warming up before riding can help.

          I've also found that the way a saddle fits me is very important. That and CAIR panels have seemed to help me. I've also tried the Thinline saddle pads because they are supposed to be good for your back. They didn't help AT ALL.

          I get my sciatica from very mild scoliosis. The scoliosis is caused by one leg being about 1/4-1/2 inch longer then the other. Since I've started riding with one stirrup longer I've found the sciatica is much much much less pronounced.

          I've been wanting to try the stirrups with offset eyes, the kind that has the eye perpendicular to the rest of the stirrup. I've heard they can help too.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for all of the suggestions.

            Miss O - What type of exercises have you found that help your fitness/sciatica? Also, with one stirrup longer than the other - do you have the longer or shorter stirrup on the side with the pain?

            Melyni - have you found certain joint supplements or anti-inflammatories that work better than others?


            • #7
              I want to have a chiropractic adjustment but I haven't yet.

              Not sure if you are into it or not but accupuncture is another avenue. I personally find it very effective and it has helped me. They have also done some injections to the area to help with inflamation and a number of stretching excercises to loosen up the area.

              it's definitely a plus if you can find a doctor who has worked with riders before. Not only that but You'd be surprised to find that some people who perform accupuncture on horses also perform it people as well.

              Just a thought


              • #8
                Originally posted by GallopHer View Post
                Miss O - What type of exercises have you found that help your fitness/sciatica? Also, with one stirrup longer than the other - do you have the longer or shorter stirrup on the side with the pain?
                In general I just increase my activity level. (which usually means more mucking out the barn and pasture lol). Also lots of core muscle exercises

                My longer stirrup is for my longer leg. This helps keep my back in alignment when in the saddle. If I try to force my longer legs stirrups to be as short as my shorter leg's stirrups it knocks my back out of alignment and I get more back pain.


                • #9
                  Agree on stirrup length, I learned this from Sally Swift, WAY back in the day (before her book even!) BUT... and it's a big but... the PELVIS must be even and neutral FIRST, and then, and ONLY then may you lower or raise a stirrup so they are uneven.

                  I rode for years with my right stirrup one hole longer. I was very even that way *in the seat.* Then I saw a chiro. My pelvis was off by a ridiculous amount like 30 degrees or some such. They adjusted, now I am fanatic about having EVEN stirrups. I have crooked days--but that's my back and my muscles... so having perfectly even biothane or non-stretch stirrups means I can judge how crooked the rest of me is now.

                  I had the offset eye stirrups , and they didn't do all that much, except let me turn my toes out a bit more than I normally do... Jointed stirrups helped me for a bit, then suddenly--quite suddenly--they were awful. <Shrugs> No idea why.

                  Wider base stirrups help me quite a bit on longer conditioning rides. Endurance type, wtih a 3 or 4" tread. The worst part is when my foot falls asleep, it also gets really cold, and sometimes frostbite--because you can't really feel the issue. The wide stirrups are a must in winter.
                  InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                  Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                  • #10
                    I'm making an assumption.......

                    that if this is a long standing problem you have at one time seen a physician to determine if the problem is coming from your spine or hip joint?

                    A bit more history (age, injury history, etc) would help in where to start.

                    Medical Mike
                    equestrian medical researcher
                    soon to be equicision.com


                    • #11
                      I agree with Miss O that loss of fitness/weight gain is usually what sets my sciatica off. I gain a little weight and there goes my back. It's like clockwork.

                      Ugh, did I mention I hate sciatica problems??!!??
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                      • Original Poster


                        I have seen a chiropractor and after some adjustments I had some slight improvement. Yes, I probably do need to follow up with a physician.

                        The only time my "butt pain" flares up is in the saddle. And I'm only affected on my right side. So, I'm thinking that I probably need stretching exercises and tweeking of my saddle/stirrups.


                        • Original Poster

                          And - I'm 50 years old. This problem began about 3 years ago with slight pain after long rides and continues to get worse as I age... I also have pain in my knees, predominately on my right side which is the side that I have the sciatic nerve pain.


                          • #14
                            YOu should follow up with a physician.....

                            Based on your short history, it reads more like hip joint w/ related muscle compensation(s) than spinal origin.

                            No doubt, you need to design an off horse strengthening program to address your knees and the rest of you.

                            A single physician visit and one or two to a rehab professional should do the trick.

                            Medical Mike
                            equestrian medical researcher
                            soon to be "equicision.com"


                            • #15
                              I had four epidurals for my sciatica and then finally went to the chiro. Along with regular adjustments, he has me in a sacral belt which is my new best friend The thing has been amazing in the relief it provides me..... for $40! http://www.serola.net/product_new_sac_belt.php To think I used to endure a needle in my spine to get relief.

                              Granted, I am under more horses than I am on top of but I am MUCH more comfortable in the saddle too
                              Whole Horse Hoof Care
                              Horseshoeing...Deceptively Simple
                              Endlessly Complex


                              • #16
                                I agree with the chiro treatments. Deep masssage also helps.
                                The Chiro/RMT can give you stretching exercises.
                                An MRI could tell you where the spine is pinching.

                                And of course, the pain often resolves all on it's own....


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Mallard View Post
                                  And of course, the pain often resolves all on it's own....
                                  That's usually how it goes for me. My sciatica pain is like the common cold. I try and treat it and the pain usually goes away in 7-14 days. I ignore it and the pain usually goes away in 7-14 days. Then it's until next time...
                                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                                  • #18

                                    Sciatica Queen here!!

                                    One Chiropractic visit and I am able to walk out. One word of advice: Do not under any circumstance out hot packs on this as it will inflame it much more. Talk about pain!

                                    Only use cold packs.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for the helpful advice. I started doing some stretches Tuesday night and I'm hopeful that if I continue them on a regular basis, I'll be less sore in the saddle. I'll also play with my stirrup lengths to see if I can find a position that is comfortable for a longer time. Since I only get sore when I ride, I feel that my leg/seat position is the root of my problem.