Equestrian sport was first featured at the 1900 Olympics and has grown in popularity since then. Our modern day equestrian sports requires ever increasing physical and mental demands.
Equestrianism provides enjoyment for all ages of elite and amateur level riders. With a great number of different disciplines, a wide variety of injuries can occur due to the nature of the sport. Some of these can be overuse or postural asymmetries, to more traumatic injuries following a fall or kick. All these injuries require specific equestrian physiotherapy to help in the treatment and recovery.
Equestrian physiotherapy, or physiotherapy for horse riding, requires a thorough understanding of the many different disciplines from national hunt and flat racing to dressage, show jumping, eventing and cross country.
Testimonials: Rachel Lade, elite equestrian in dressage and eventing and 5 Valleys Physio Ambassador, takes full advantage of the equestrian physiotherapy we offer. Read more about Rachel Lade here
Common equestrian injuries
Postural asymmetries and weakness are frequent problems amongst riders. Lower back pain and hip pain are common complaints, especially in those who sit to the trot. Elbow tendinopathies and shoulder pain can occur due to the position of the hands when riding and holding the reins. Falling from your horse can cause more traumatic injuries such as fractures or dislocations. These can also benefit from physiotherapy. Other contributing factors to injury can be from repetitive yard duties. This often predisposes riders to overuse injuries.
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Thoracic pain
- Disc problems
- Elbow tendinopathies
- Aching knees
Prevention of equestrian injuries
A common phrase riders use is to be ‘riding fit’, and those who haven’t ridden for a while often feel new aches and pains set in quite quickly afterwards! Making sure you regularly stretch out your muscles is important. Strengthening your body to aim for symmetry during yard duties and riding is also advised. Riders require good core strength which is essential for maintaining good posture on top of the horse. It also allows independent limb movements enabling aids to be given to the horse. A rider has a big influence on the horse and research has shown that a rider’s fitness can influence the comfort and performance of their horses.
Treatment of equestrian injuries
A wide variation of techniques can be used to help rehabilitate a rider’s injuries. Manual therapy is generally used to help address the problem following a diagnosis. A personalised strength and conditioning program can build strength and endurance. It will also correct any muscle imbalances. Soft tissue massage will relieve any tension in tight muscles. Pilates is also a popular choice for riders, developing postural strength with an emphasis on core fitness. This is a basic and essential component of riding horses.