Avoiding back cramps/pain and keeping shoulders back!
This has been a constant problem for me lately and I'm hoping you guys can give me some tips here.
When I was about 10 or 11 I took a fall from a 16hh horse flat on my back and it screwed something up big time. A trainer had failed to double check my equipment and the stirrup bar on the saddle was bent and the saddle was prone to the leather sliding off...and when it did I went flopping off the side. Ever since then my back has been very weak.
Especially at a posting trot, after a few minutes I get a tight, nasty cramp in my lower back. Feels like the muscles are just in a ball. It makes me very prone to hunching and leaning because it literally feels like I don't have to strength to be upright. This stinks up my ride being that my horse is very sensitive to her rider's position and I have difficulty slowing my post when she gets quick and choppy due to my hunching.
Anyone have any tips to help keep my back from cramping, and to help me sit up straighter and keep my shoulders back? My leg/heels are apparently great. I've been getting a lot of compliments on them from my trainer and some other riders lately. The upper body just needs work.
I also have a tendency to get stiff trying to hold myself in a "perfect" position.
It's very frustrating to have stiffness and muscle cramps hold me back. I'd love to get back to jumping but I really need to get a more secure upper body. Amber is pretty bored with flat work as well! :-( But the flat work has to be good before we do any fences.
ETA: Oddly enough, I have a much easier time at the canter and my trainer hasn't really had any major criticism for us there. It's the trot!
I have upper back pain when I ride from a spook a few months ago. I should probably see someone about it, but I always have an excuse. Have you been to the doctor or chiro? My mom ruptured a disc in her spine a few years ago, so she always rides in a back brace that she got a CVS. It looks similar to this: Futuro Stabilizing Back Support Small/Medium - CVS pharmacy
Not only does it make you pay attention to that part of your body, it helps keep you straight and supported. Try some stretches before you ride. These look crazy, but they really stretch you and I've found that my hips are so much more relaxed : Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain and Open Tight Hips
Also, the key to a strong back is a strong front. try some core exercises. you might find it easier to stay upright with a stronger core.
Supporting the back will actually do the opposite of what is needed.
With doctor supervision, you need to start weight training to strengthen your back muscles. Once the muscles are strong enough to carry the body you won't have pain.
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My back is not the best either. I think the key is exercises that keep your core strong(eg sit ups) &back muscles flexible (eg yoga stretches). It doesn"t hurt to do a few warm up stretches before you start riding also. A trick we used to do (from my pony club days) is to put elastic bands on our arms, tied together with string from behind to a length that encourages shoulders and arms to stay in position when you are riding -- the bands put pressure on you when you get out of position; also they readily break if things take a sudden turn.
Is it your lower back causing you problems? If so, you may be pushing yourself upright with your back instead of pulling yourself upright with your abs.
As for keeping your shoulders back, have someone on the ground set you at the proper position then work on that feeling. Remember the feeling of when you're in the correct position and use that as a guide to adjust yourself. When I feel like I'm leaning too far back, I know I'm in the right spot, LOL. I tend to want to lean forward a bit.
I have a Bowen therapist who's amazing!
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It sounds like it could be prudent to visit one for a checkover?:-)
Dr Les Bailey
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