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how much pain is normal after riding?

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  • how much pain is normal after riding?

    Question for you all. I have very mild arthritis. I'm wondering: how much pain is normal after riding? Do any of you ever have too much pain to ride daily? I feel like the day after I ride my hips and hip muscles/thigh muscles are so sore that I walk quiet stiff and riding is somewhat painful. Is that normal? I'm interested to hear answers from ppl with no arthirits to people with mod-severe arthritis.

    To give background: have been riding for ~ 1 year now. I ride 2x/week but would like to ride more except I'm so sore the day after riding I feel like I need the day "off". I ride for an hour - w, t, c and small hunter courses 2'6" or less. Overall fitness is quite good. I do pilates with a trainer 2x/week as well on non-riding days.
    Last edited by rockfordbuckeye; Aug. 4, 2010, 08:43 PM.

  • #2
    I can't speak to the arthritis part but as far as the muscle part goes I find my max to be about 4 days. Meaning if I don't ride for 5 days I get muscle sore all over again. If I go every three days I am ok. There really isn't anything that replicates the leg muscles used in riding when you are off the horse. Obviously exercise is good but off the horse exercise will not work those muscles the same way. Try riding a little more often but maybe not as strenuously.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • #3
      I think it really just depends. I've got some issues with joints, especially my knees. If I've done an hour long lesson, they're usually just sticky. After a 2 hr trail ride w/t/c through mountains, I can barely unlock them to dismount.

      When I first started foxhunting, I remember being so sore in my thighs that I had to go down the stairs backwards--for a week.

      Currently, I do an hour or so once or twice during the week, a 2 hour ride on Sat and/or Sunday and I think the amount of pain I'm in after depends on what else I did that day, the weather, and the aliens controlling my body.

      I feel better the more I ride. If I do go too long between rides, then the soreness catches up.


      • #4
        It's not unusual, I don't think --- arthritis makes you generally sore anyway --- there is something called "Tin Man Syndrome," which basically is just the stiffness that usually works out the more you move around. It might help to use ice packs after you ride, or that evening. I'd sometimes take an anti-inflammatory before I'd ride which seemed to help the after-ride problems. I also switched to Cloud stirrups, which are very wide --- they have a 5" wide, 4 or 5" deep footbed, padded with closed cell foam, and that really absorbs a lot of shock and helped keep me from being sore.


        • #5
          Not unusual with the caveat....

          you may be on too wide a horse for your body
          and or
          while you do regular off horse strengthening, you may need a more focused hip strengthening program
          and or
          (insert several other contributors)

          That said, once you have hip arthritis, it is simply a question of what best manages the pain.
          Just takes some time to dig through it all.

          Medical Mike
          equestrian medical researcher


          • Original Poster

            Interesting Mike. I have ridden horses that are quite thin (very fine boned/small Tb's) to draft-mixes. Though a VERY wide horse can make it worse, what I have found really does the damage is a horse that is dead to the leg (er..and i ride school horses, so that's pretty much all my rides) and requires a lot of kicking/squeezing. That range of motion on me can be quite painful if repeated over and over and I fatigue and then compensate for the pain by instinctively locking up hip joint which probably just makes the whole thing worse. I really must focus on relaxing hip joint because when pain sets in for some reason body wants to do the opposite.

            A horse with a hellacious (that's a word right? trot can also rip my hip joints to shreds in minutes!

            So for me...what seems to leave me the least sore the next day is a horse I don't have to spend an hour trying to get to move off my leg!

            That being said - I have to ask - how do you know your ideal horse to rider ratio? I'm planning to buy soon so it might help my epic quest.


            • #7
              Saddle can make a difference, too. A wide twist can leave me so sore through my hips that I can't sleep for two days.

              My horse is quite wide, but my saddle has a moderate twist and is fitted pretty carefully to me, as well as the horse. As a result, I can relax my muscles and open my hip joints, so as long as I'm riding regularly, I don't get the pain.

              You might want a pair of spurs--yes, I know they are for refining one's aids, but sometimes on a chronically switched-off school horse, refining one's aids means "HELLO! I'm not spending the next 45 minutes ineffectively kicking the bejeezus out of your tin sides, so you may as well wake up now..."


              • #8
                Use a stick so you don't have to thighmaster your way through your lessons.

                And stretch before and *after* you ride.


                • #9
                  Also, don't feel like you have to school seriously every time you ride. Sometimes I find that if I go for a light hack or something, it's just enough to loosen me up without overdoing.

                  My horse and I both have a little arthritis and we both seem to do the best when I ride several times a week, but don't drill us every single time.

                  Walking a couple laps around the arena before mounting really seems to help me a lot, too.

                  And Aleve. I go through a lot of NSAIDS.

                  My mare is also very sensitive, so I don't usually have to do much kicking or pulling. Never needs kicking, and only sometimes needs a little pulling if she's very fresh

                  Gloves help my arthritic fingers. If my knees are really bothering me, I'll ride without stirrups for a while, if my back is acting up, I'll take little breaks in two-point. On a long trail ride, I make sure to change gaits and positions so I don't get too stiff.

                  Hope you find a routine that works for you!
                  "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                  -Edward Hoagland


                  • #10

                    So it is the hip adduction/extension combination (with some probable rotation component) that is the main problem.

                    A few pictures would help confirm a hypothesis.....

                    My running hypothesis is angle between hip and horse no more than 30 degrees.....
                    PM coming.



                    • #11
                      Ohhh RFBuckeye, you could be telling my story!

                      I'm beginning to wonder if I should quit riding, because it hurts so much the day after. I have back issues, arthritis mostly in the lower disks of my back (degenerating disks and some mild scoliosis, and some SI joint issues). I am fine riding my draft x at a walk and trot, but if we do a lot of cantering, the next day I am in PAIN! Her gaits are what sold me on the horse, very comfortable, including the canter, but she is wide, and I have hip issues as well. Nsaids work wonders (before and after), but my stomach can only deal with so much of them, and I have to take a break for a month, or I have some pretty bad stomach issues. I do yoga and pilates (though probably not often enough) and consider myself to be in pretty good shape for a 57 yo. I take care of my horse and pony at my own farm, so I get a lot of exercise just taking care of them.

                      The last time I rode, I took 2 ibuprofen maybe 15 min. before I got on, and really thought I was going to throw up after a couple of laps around the arena. Had to stop several times, just to let everything settle down.

                      What I find is, now that I'm older, I can't ride every day. But I probably could if some of those days were walk only, or just trail ride days. Problem is, when I'm on, I don't feel the pain! So I'm not good about knowing when to call it quits, or when to back down.

                      Just wrote to let you know you're not alone!
                      "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death."


                      • #12
                        RN chimes in here!

                        Ok Ladies & Germs! Remember, nsaids should always be taken w/food and lotsa watah!! Preferably an hour before you get on so they move on down the pike and aren't sitting in your gastrum and splashing up into your esophagus when getting shook up while your're riding. Or even with some antacids too. Take after riding too. Hot shower in am to help get going. Keep moving. Immobility is not your friend!

                        All jostling & sitting gaits will compress joints worset so avoid sitting trots or canters maybe. Stay up in 2 point or half point and let your lower joints absorb the shock. Get some good shock absorbing saddle pads/stirrup irons. Concussion is NOT your friend.

                        And when all is said & done....Like I always say.....Quit Yer Whining....Take your pills....Shut UP and RIDE!!!

                        Think of the soreness as the price you pay for getting old....hence no biggie!!


                        • #13
                          I am middle aged (or depending upon your definition, somewhere on the back stretch of middle aged), and took up riding in my late 40's after pretty much a lifetime of being a couch potato.

                          A few years later nowadays unless I have a 2+ week layoff, I normally don't have anything but beneficial effects from riding in terms of flexibility, and rarely any pain unless I decide I need to post without stirrups to work on my adductors, which makes for sore thighs.

                          No other pain unless I fail to stretch for ten minutes or more before climbing on, that is, layoff or no layoff.

                          The pre-ride stretching and a few minutes of warmup in the ring make all the difference in the world. Besides it's cool to feel the muscles in calves and thighs gradually stretch out.

                          Grafting a little sitting trot onto the end of the warmup is both helpful and a nice sensation, too, because I can feel the upper body tension (which I can't stretch away) slowly melt out with every stride. And it makes for a much better ride, not just because the horse who endures the first portion of that comes to appreciate my being more melted into the saddle afterward.

                          I am lucky not to have any detectable arthritis and x-rays of my back show my lower back and pelvic area to be sound, healthy and symmetrical. Not so my upper back and shoulders. And there is mysterious a compression between C5 and C6 in my neck from decades ago that I could do without.

                          When I first started taking lessons -- just walking and then trying to learn to post a trot, which was pretty brutal to watch and far worse than that to endure -- I was not only so sore and stiff the mornings after that I could barely get up and down stairs the first weeks, but I crunched my back up so badly that it took a long siege of chiropractic, Alexander technique and massage therapy to get past that. I recommend those.

                          Nowadays prophylactically I'll often take a couple of ibuprofens or some naproxyn an hour before I ride, especially after a layoff or if I'm going to take a lesson.

                          I posted a poll on pre-ride stretching a year or so ago and was surprised that few riders regularly stretch. Roughly half rarely or or never do. ('Never' was no inconsequential minority.). Surprised the both very young and not so very young riders showed about the same percentages the last time I checked back; I'd have thought there would be more stretching in the older population.

                          Also, someone mentioned back/barrel width. Since women have wider hips than men, that factor doesn't work the same for me as for most of the COTH population. Stretching is very helpful for hip flexibility, too. Mine are always tight unless I stretch them.

                          Only wish I could actually ride as well as I've gotten this stretching routine down.
                          Last edited by Adamantane; Aug. 9, 2010, 11:25 PM. Reason: Clarity.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the info wateryglen!

                            My last ride (where I took the IB 15 before getting on) was a last minute thing.

                            My instructor comes to my farm, and was 2 hours early that day! (Some classic mis-communication.) I had just finished dinner, she rolls up the driveway, and I was mounted within 20 min. Didn't get to do my preride stretches either. So I guess that's a trainwreck looking to happen, stomach-wise. Also, we are working on canter with this mare, so were cantering within 5 minutes of getting on! Like I said in earlier post, had to stop several times during the lesson.

                            So I guess that was a perfect storm of potential stomach issues. But I am still paying for it now, several days later.

                            I have learned my lesson - stretch before riding, IB an hour ahead of time, and treat this aging body better. I am not young anymore, but definitely don't have a foot in the grave yet!
                            "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death."


                            • #15
                              I'm only 31, but I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, so most of my arthritis is from having extremely unstable joints. In my case, stretching is not something I can just throw into my routine willy-nilly, since the basic problem is that my ligaments are too stretchy in the first place. Now, with the help of my docter and PT, I have zero'd in on a few specific areas that do benefit from stretching, but there are definitely a whole lot of stretches I have to stay away from.
                              "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                              -Edward Hoagland


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Wayside View Post
                                I'm only 31, but I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, so most of my arthritis is from having extremely unstable joints. In my case, stretching is not something I can just throw into my routine willy-nilly, since the basic problem is that my ligaments are too stretchy in the first place. Now, with the help of my docter and PT, I have zero'd in on a few specific areas that do benefit from stretching, but there are definitely a whole lot of stretches I have to stay away from.
                                Sure wish I could offer a useful workaround to the inability to stretch.

                                For me stretching seems to make all the difference since my muscles tends to armor-up when I'm not constantly active.

                                Sometimes right after a massage or sitting in a warm jacuzzi for a while I become more flexible for a while, too, but those massages can get expensive.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by gallopinggram View Post
                                  The last time I rode, I took 2 ibuprofen maybe 15 min. before I got on, and really thought I was going to throw up after a couple of laps around the arena. Had to stop several times, just to let everything settle down.
                                  Some people don't tolerate NSAIDs no matter what they do. Have you tried taking OTC omeprazole (prilosec) [think Gastrogard given with larger doses of bute] a few hours before taking the ibuprofen? (It takes many hours for prilosec to begin to work, so taking it even an hour or two before won't do the trick.) And maybe liquid gel encapsulated ibuprofen so it doesn't concentrate in any particular spot as it dissolves.


                                  • #18
                                    Aah yes, thank you adamante for the advice. I do take prilosec during flare-ups, and started up on them pretty quickly after the afore mentioned ride. I'm sure with the judicious non use of nsaids and the prilosec I will be right as rain in a week or so. I will buy some gel encased IB though, being a cheapo, I would just buy the generic, but now I think I'll have to splurge on the good stuff.

                                    Had a great ride today - I did some preride stretching (more than usual, cause I knew that I am not allowed to take any nsaids for awhile). Felt sooo good in the saddle, all the parts were going where they were supposed to. When that happens, and maresy is being cooperative, obedient and sharp. well I guess that's why I still do it!
                                    "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death."


                                    • #19
                                      Glad you had a good day. Tomorrow I hope to find the chance to end my 3-week layoff. Bareback pad seems like a good approach.


                                      • #20
                                        Gelcap factoid!

                                        The gel versions of nsaids are made to dissolve in your gastrum quickly so actually I'd AVOID them if you're having stomach problems. They will get into your system fast though. You should stick to enteric coated nsaid pills/caplets/tablets. Those are designed to dissolve further down the pike in your duodenum & further and avoids the splashback effect problem. This delayed dissolving means it takes maybe a half hour to get in your system instead of say 15 mins with the gel caps.
                                        Just a little factoid for ya!