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Extremely tight hips/thigh muscles - rider pain. End of tether, please read :)

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  • Extremely tight hips/thigh muscles - rider pain. End of tether, please read :)

    Hi, I know this is my first post but I have been an avid reader of chronicle forums for a long time. I hope by posting this I may hear from someone with the same or similar issues and posting here means I will reach as many riders as I can.
    I am at my wits end. I will start my saying I have never been the most flexible of people, but up until recently it has not affected my riding - at least not to my knowledge! Maybe I would have been a top dressage rider by now, who knows?! Anyway, my issue is quite simply when I first mount I can't sit into the saddle. My left leg gets rotated inwards and it is an effort to point it the right way and then I can take about 10/15 mins to be able to sit into the saddle enough to start trotting etc. My saint of a mare puts up with this and is used to our long warm ups in walk. I will then loosen out over time and be like a normal person
    I firstly blamed my saddle - it was widened for my mare in June 2016 and it is from then that my problem worsened. Previously I would still not sit in the saddle immediately but after a minute or two I would be fine. It has been gradually getting worse since then, I can't remember the last time I sat in a saddle without issue - it would be about 2 years ago maybe less but around that time.
    If I have been riding a long time and dismount - when I remount I am fine. So once I stretch out I am ok. Until the next day. My thigh/adductor muscles just tighten up again overnight. I bought a dressage saddle with a narrow twist and while I do seem to be able to get my legs closer to my horse and I love the position it puts me in, it hasn't solved the issue. Neither has riding in my jump saddle, altough the shorter stirrups do help me stretch a bit quicker i.e. easier to do 2 point work until my thighs have stretched.
    I went to a physio in July 2016 and she identified a 'block' on my left hip but she wasn't a horse rider so I don't think she understood my issues very well. She also said my left leg rotates inwards when I stand - have been trying to correct this. She recommended pilates which I have been doing on a weekly basis since then.
    I found a horse rider physio three months ago which was a breakthrough - she said she had someone with this issue before and she would be able to solve it with a stretching programme. Fast foward 3 months and about 8/9 private pilates sessions,physio & dry needling I have only seen a slight improvement. All my measurements improve after my physio only for my muscles to tighten again overnight. So she has referred me for an MRI as she dosen't think she can help now
    Latest is I am now experiencing pain in my thighs in the morning if I have ridden the evening before - I was in pain riding last night as I had given my mare a week off. I could only manage walk and a few bursts of trot.
    I have looked into magnesium difficiency so have been taking nightly magnesium baths and magnesium supplements. Tried drinking more water, eating less sugar. I am getting quite depressed about it now. Hopefully someone here might know what I am experiencing - nobody I know has.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Oh, I should add that I fractured my pelvis (left ischiopubic ramus) after a fall from a horse in 2010. It hasn't affected me up until now.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi there, I clicked on this thread because my hips also get pretty tight, but nothing like yours! I feel for you.

      The first thing that came into my mind was to ask what kind of work you do. When you're not riding or at some sort of class or treatment to straighten yourself out, are you mostly sitting? Mostly standing? Always moving?
      Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.

      Comment


      • #4
        An awful lot of riders, myself included, wind up at the orthopedic office subsequent to the injury and often prior to the surgery. Maybe call a local office and find out if they know a provider (medical person, PT) who also rides who could help you out. Depending on where you are, you might look for a Level 3 or 4 certified Centered Riding instructor. Many of them are extremely good at identifying issues and helping you find something that works. Can you sit without trying to rotate your leg? The "right" way for it to point is what works for you, not what the ideal position is. Sounds like changing your saddle is helping. Do you ride alone, or are you at a barn with others? Maybe there is someone who can work with you to help with stretching while you are warming up. We have a woman at our barn who had a horrible car accident last winter - hit by a truck. She had numerous cracks in her pelvis. She has been taking therapeutic lessons and still is having problems with flexibility to get on and off without help. She is determined, however, and is riding a somewhat wider horse now than she did a couple of months ago. It's great that you have a patient horse who is helping you work things out.
        Tussman's law: Nothing is as inevitable as a mistake whose time has come.

        "Providence sometimes takes care of idiots." Agnes Morley Cleaveland, No Life for a Lady, 1977.

        Comment


        • #5
          Have you seen a doctor . Some of the issue you have sound neuro-muscular therefore a consult with a neuromuscular neurologist would be the place to start. That said riding with a wide twist can give you awful pain and troubles. Sadly a saddle that fits your horse may not work for you, I think there are some saddle that are wide trees with narrow twist. Even if it just helps a little you are at least preventing increasing pain.Sometimes its that the horse is just a rough ride and you are working hard to ride well = pain.
          Also be aware of what else you do with your body , do you sit at a desk, is it ergonomic, do you haul hay, so many ways to damage ourselves yet we will naturally focus on the thing that causes us the most pain.
          Orthopedist do well with broken bones and joints but for soft tissue injuries or neurological muscular issue they won't be any help nor will P.T. till you figure out whats wrong with you.
          Dry needling is nonsense, good body work can help but finding someone with good hands is difficult. You could try a rolfer but please see the neuro first.

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh for pain relief the best thing for now is hot tub and gentle massage. If you use a home hot tub then epson salts ar very soothing. Once pain starts it difficult to get the nerves to guide down so at least start with that and maybe some progressive relaxation tapes. Regular Hot bath with the salt will help if u don't have a tub.Hot shows don't give the deep muscle relief of the immersion in a tub.
            Yes I did pain management , retired now.....

            Comment


            • #7
              I had a pelvic injury that sounds like it had similar symptoms as yours. Long story short, I found a GREAT physical therapist, stretched- every. single. day., foam rolled, Epsom soaked, took mag supplements, massage, lots of yoga, and sat on a yoga at ball at work for about 18 months. It seemed like eternity, but it worked! I am mostly pain free now, but still have to be very mindful of my stretching (especially abductors). I would find a good PT, find one that specializes in pelvic injuries if you can, they are much more common than I knew before!

              Comment


              • #8
                Given your history of pelvic trauma, I would request an X-Ray evaluation of pelvis and hips. Is it possible you have developed osteoarthritis of one or both hips as a result of prior trauma?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have had really good help from docs that specialize in rehab...physiologists. They usually work in sports medicine. They do gait analysis. Think about how you'd try to help your horse with a problem like this and get yourself some good medical advice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OP, I work with people who have similar issues to what you're describing.

                    IF there are no bony issues remaining from your fall several years ago, then this sounds like a more extreme version of some pretty classic tension patterns. You say that, once warmed up, you can ride your horse without issue and could dismount and get back on and have no problem. You also say that once stretched out, you're OK but that things tighten up overnight and you're back to square one each morning. That screams muscular, not neurological and not bone-related. There may be some angle/alignment issues that are very old and stem from previous injuries that are causing muscles to become hypertonic by forcing them into a certain position, but it's not likely those things cropped up in the manner you're describing.

                    It can be hard to find a PT who knows about riding posture, but honestly, I would find the best bodyworker you can and commit to seeing them regularly for several months. The honest truth (albeit a frustrating truth) about situations like this is you don't get this way overnight: this occurred over some period of time. It's going to take a lot of diligence, persistence, time and likely money to make a major dent in the issues you're having. I tell clients that almost every day: your best shot is to make the investment at the start, then formulate your care routine and stay on top of it.

                    If you tends towards being hypertonic in general, magnesium is good place to start. You can also try adding apple cider vinegar to your diet: the vinegar has an alkalizing effect which can help with tight, reactive musculature. I think the ratio was 1oz diluted in 8oz of water. I also highly, highly recommend foam rolling. The are Youtube videos galore: it's something you can do on your own, as slow as you like, and it WORKS. This would all be in addition to finding a good manual therapist.
                    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Firstly sorry for not replying sooner I had password issues and couldn't log back in ? thank you for all your replies. I have had an MRI since my last post.. it showed no bone/joint issues. In a way I was disappointed as I still have no answers but I agree with Abbie S- I haven't got this way overnight so it is going to take time to sort out. I have an appointment with an osteopath next week as I stil think it's an allignment issue i.e. I feel my left hip is "wrong" a lot of the time and it has been pointed out that I walk and stand with my left root slightly rotating inwards. I have got orthopaedic insoles to try and correct this. I will continue with physio & Pilates and will try fit in a hot yoga class weekly. It's just hard with working full time, getting to and from the yard and everything else! But I have to beat this

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
                        OP, I work with people who have similar issues to what you're describing.

                        IF there are no bony issues remaining from your fall several years ago, then this sounds like a more extreme version of some pretty classic tension patterns. You say that, once warmed up, you can ride your horse without issue and could dismount and get back on and have no problem. You also say that once stretched out, you're OK but that things tighten up overnight and you're back to square one each morning. That screams muscular, not neurological and not bone-related. There may be some angle/alignment issues that are very old and stem from previous injuries that are causing muscles to become hypertonic by forcing them into a certain position, but it's not likely those things cropped up in the manner you're describing.

                        It can be hard to find a PT who knows about riding posture, but honestly, I would find the best bodyworker you can and commit to seeing them regularly for several months. The honest truth (albeit a frustrating truth) about situations like this is you don't get this way overnight: this occurred over some period of time. It's going to take a lot of diligence, persistence, time and likely money to make a major dent in the issues you're having. I tell clients that almost every day: your best shot is to make the investment at the start, then formulate your care routine and stay on top of it.

                        If you tends towards being hypertonic in general, magnesium is good place to start. You can also try adding apple cider vinegar to your diet: the vinegar has an alkalizing effect which can help with tight, reactive musculature. I think the ratio was 1oz diluted in 8oz of water. I also highly, highly recommend foam rolling. The are Youtube videos galore: it's something you can do on your own, as slow as you like, and it WORKS. This would all be in addition to finding a good manual therapist.
                        Thank you I have been taking mag supplements daily since June, I use a magnesium spray and have magnesium bath salts for when I get a chance to have a hot bath. Will try the cider vinegar also.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by walkers60 View Post
                          Have you seen a doctor . Some of the issue you have sound neuro-muscular therefore a consult with a neuromuscular neurologist would be the place to start. That said riding with a wide twist can give you awful pain and troubles. Sadly a saddle that fits your horse may not work for you, I think there are some saddle that are wide trees with narrow twist. Even if it just helps a little you are at least preventing increasing pain.Sometimes its that the horse is just a rough ride and you are working hard to ride well = pain.
                          Also be aware of what else you do with your body , do you sit at a desk, is it ergonomic, do you haul hay, so many ways to damage ourselves yet we will naturally focus on the thing that causes us the most pain.
                          Orthopedist do well with broken bones and joints but for soft tissue injuries or neurological muscular issue they won't be any help nor will P.T. till you figure out whats wrong with you.
                          Dry needling is nonsense, good body work can help but finding someone with good hands is difficult. You could try a rolfer but please see the neuro first.
                          I have seen a doctor who referred me for MRI which showed nothing. I recently in the last few months bought a dressage saddle with an narrow twist which has helped I think but not a cure! I work in IT so yes it's a sitting desk job unfortunately I have a Fitbit which tells me to walk every hour but it's not always feasible to do this. I walk 20 minutes every lunchtime. I don't haul hay as I hav my horse on full livery. Thanks for your suggestions!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by BravAddict View Post
                            Hi there, I clicked on this thread because my hips also get pretty tight, but nothing like yours! I feel for you.

                            The first thing that came into my mind was to ask what kind of work you do. When you're not riding or at some sort of class or treatment to straighten yourself out, are you mostly sitting? Mostly standing? Always moving?
                            Mostly sitting ? desk job for 8 hours then 1 hour drive to yard (traffic), ride then 1/2 hour drive home, food & bed

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What you are describing sounds as though it could be nerve compression that occurs during movement to mount or the position in the saddle, so sort of like a positional neuropathy but worse. I second that it is time for a neuro exam. There are also targeted exercises for your I.T. band that may be helpful. If after a month you don't have some improvement, a physical medicine or sports medicine physician is probably worth a go and you may well need to simulate mounting a horse to better illustrate the problem for them. Best of luck!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Second Star To The Right View Post
                                What you are describing sounds as though it could be nerve compression that occurs during movement to mount or the position in the saddle, so sort of like a positional neuropathy but worse. I second that it is time for a neuro exam. There are also targeted exercises for your I.T. band that may be helpful. If after a month you don't have some improvement, a physical medicine or sports medicine physician is probably worth a go and you may well need to simulate mounting a horse to better illustrate the problem for them. Best of luck!
                                Hi, I am not in the states so I would have to get another referral from my GP which I am not sure he will do as the MRI came back with nothing

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by h1h0silver View Post

                                  Hi, I am not in the states so I would have to get another referral from my GP which I am not sure he will do as the MRI came back with nothing
                                  I figured from the term physio. Lol. If the problem persists, and is unresponsive to treatment, I would hope that he were make the referral.

                                  Would you clarify for me if the leg turns in of its own accord, ie is there like a spasm that causes it? Is there pain involved and if so where is the pain? Also, will sound crazy, have you tried mounting from the wrong side just to see if it happens? That will sort of help determine which part of Getting in the saddle is causing the issue. Is it the up and over or the sitting angle.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Second Star To The Right View Post
                                    I figured from the term physio. Lol. If the problem persists, and is unresponsive to treatment, I would hope that he were make the referral.

                                    Would you clarify for me if the leg turns in of its own accord, ie is there like a spasm that causes it? Is there pain involved and if so where is the pain? Also, will sound crazy, have you tried mounting from the wrong side just to see if it happens? That will sort of help determine which part of Getting in the saddle is causing the issue. Is it the up and over or the sitting angle.
                                    I never thought of mounting from the wrong side I will try it! Pain is more when I try and straighten the leg back to point in the right direction it's less painful the more I have been riding i.e. I had a week off riding recently and the first day back it was very painful it's the stretching that is painful feel like it's pulling on my hip joint, which as the muscles are attached here it makes sense. I have been taking ibuprofen before I ride recently but I don't want to get dependent on thus but it helps a lot!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I had a very similar situation--I've never been naturally flexible, hips were always tight but not a huge problem. I had seen a couple of PTs over the years who gave me stretches, but nothing really seemed to help. Then after a fall where I broke my ankle and was out of the saddle for 4 months coupled with the fact that I wasn't in my 20s seemed to really exacerbate the problem. The hip pain was actually worse than the ankle pain when I finally started riding again. What *finally* fixed it for me was finding the right physical therapist. She determined that I essentially had a "frozen" hip. A combination of her manually manipulating the joint, foam rolling and me doing stretches every day finally gave me relief. I will tell you all of those things *hurt* and it took *months* but it worked. I still do the stretches and foam rolling several times a week--that's just part of my routine now and if I don't things start to tighten up again. For me, it was all about finding the right physical therapist--she devised stretches that none of the other PTs had given me. I truly believe that plus the manual work she did and the foam rolling all played a part.

                                      P.S. Get it fixed because you are likely compensating in your back while riding if you can't truly relax through your hips. I herniated a disc before I got my hip fixed, and I can feel a huge difference in my back and core while riding now that my hips aren't tight. Trust me, you don't want to screw up your back--the hip pain was a walk in the park compared to the herniated disc.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by h1h0silver View Post

                                        I never thought of mounting from the wrong side I will try it! Pain is more when I try and straighten the leg back to point in the right direction it's less painful the more I have been riding i.e. I had a week off riding recently and the first day back it was very painful it's the stretching that is painful feel like it's pulling on my hip joint, which as the muscles are attached here it makes sense. I have been taking ibuprofen before I ride recently but I don't want to get dependent on thus but it helps a lot!
                                        Mounting opposite may at least help isolate the problem.

                                        It sounds like the internal rotators are very tight. Are you doing anything that resembles a butterfly stretch in either physio or Pilates? It could be that yoga would be a more effective route than Pilates. Beginning yoga will focus more on flexibility and less on strengthening than Pilates.

                                        Another hair brained idea i have, because you said if you ride a while then dismount when you mount again, it doesn't happen, is to fashion some sort of dummy to mount, then work out the stiffness before you ride.

                                        Unfortunately, if it is a bony anomaly from the fracture like a large bone callus, stretching and exercise won't help. Don't worry to much about ibuprofen and other NSAIDS. They are a relatively safe class of drugs and won't cause a physical dependency. The body tends to heal itself more quickly when it's not in pain and therapy and stretches will be more productive if pain is not a limiting factor.

                                        Watsu, which is shiatsu massage in water could be beneficial as well if you have that available in your area. Basically you get all stretched out in perfect temperature water and it feels wonderful.

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