Horseback Riding can be a Real Pain in the Pelvis

Updated: Mar 12, 2018

3 Things you can do to Ride Pain-Free in the Saddle



For horseback riding enthusiasts, there's nothing like going for a gallop on open ground, feeling the wind in your face and connecting with your four-legged friend in a way that is indescribable to non-riders. However, this unique experience can take a serious toll on your pelvis floor, which often bears the brunt of all that bouncing. The "cowboy strut" isn't a fiction of Hollywood's imagination; it's a real thing that is related to horseback riding, often over long distances or tough terrain.


As an avid horseback rider and pelvic floor physical therapy specialist at Meenal Mujumdar Physical Therapy, Meenal understands the risks and rewards of the sport first hand. In fact, she treats many riders with pelvis floor problems, including symptoms ranging from pelvic pain to stress incontinence. Although women may be more susceptible to pelvic discomfort, this ailment can affect cowboys, cowgirls and little cowpokes alike. The good news is there's no need to let a little pain in the saddle stop you from experiencing the thrill of equestrian sports if you use a little horse sense when you ride.


* Go Light in the Saddle: Many of the common causes of pelvic pain can be corrected with a minor adjustment in your riding style. If you are experiencing pain and soreness as a result of riding, consider changes to your riding posture that can help lessen the impact to your pelvis floor. According to LoveHorsebackRiding.com, riders should sit up straight in the saddle and use the "sit bones" (the ones that get sore from sitting to long in a hard chair) in a balanced position on the horse. Anything over a light trot and riders should stand up in the stirrups, thereby allowing the feet and legs to absorb more of the shock to your back side. For additional comfort, let your legs to hug the horse, sit in a straight, upright position, and point your toes slightly outward.


* Equip Like an Equestrian: You don't see mountain climbers using a faulty harness, or racecar drivers hitting the track on bad shock absorbers. Yet many horse riders are content to use saddles that don't properly fit or protect their backsides. Saddle Exchange offers a wide variety of tips for finding the right fit. Padded saddles or the addition of saddle cushions can greatly reduce the impact, which can negatively affect the pelvic bones and muscles, as well as the connecting spine, hips and legs. Make sure the saddle is balanced and fits the horse as well as you, and that it doesn't slip or bring discomfort to the horse. What you wear can also make a difference. Be sure to wear comfortable but well-fitted riding boots, stretchable pants and a helmet to stay safe from head to tail.


* Increase Your Horse Power: The horse isn't the only one that should be getting a workout. Riders who suffer from pelvic discomfort can benefit greatly by doing a few exercises to strengthen their muscles and joints that are most prone to pain. Horse-Canada.com recommends a series of exercises to help your build up your base and develop a strong seat in the saddle. Meenal Mujumdar Physical Therapy also provides tips for learning to relax your pelvis floor to address pelvic pain and related symptoms, such as increased bladder urgency, frequency with urination, constipation, and pain with sexual intercourse.


Overall conditioning also offers added benefits for both the rider and the horse.

Consult Meenal Mujumdar PT, PRPC, if you experience any of the signs and symptoms related to pelvic pain and problems. Such issues are vital to your health and shouldn't be horsed around with. We want to you to enjoy the excitement of riding high on the horse without experiencing the discomfort downstairs.


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