• Whether you ride competitively, for work, for the love of it or all of the above, injuries do happen and we’re here to help you literally get back on the horse and back to your best.

    One thing that we have learnt treating a range of horse riders in Mid Canterbury is that horse owners tend to put their animals before their own health. So, if you take nothing else away from this blog post, remember that as a horse rider, you are a sports person and need to look after your body accordingly – and we are here to help you with that.

    Common horse riding injuries

    Because horse riding is a sport that requires full body engagement, you can sustain a range of injuries but we can group these into two main types

    1. Overload injuries

    Overload injuries happen when an area is repeatedly asked to do the same thing and it is important to see a physio for these as they can be tricky to get better as the injury needs to be diagnosed and treated as well as the cause behind it addressed. Some common issues are:

    • Wrist or shoulder pain (carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tendinopathy etc) from gripping and holding the reins or even from bucketing a lot of water and feed at times if you have a lot of horses to look after!
    • Back pain from repeated impact in s flexed posture
    • Knee, Achilles or heel pain from bracing and stabilising through your legs
    • And last but not least, headaches

    2. Acute injuries

    Acute injuries are caused by a few different things but commonly from:

    • The horse coming to a quick stop and causing a whiplash type injury to the neck
    • A horse shying away and pulling at the reins, causing strains and sprains to the neck or shoulders
    • Falls – coming off the horse can lead to injury to the back, shoulders and wrists, and can sometimes include more serious injuries such as dislocations, concussions, fractures, soft tissue damage or head injuries.
    • And last but not least direct contusion from a kick or a horse landing on you

    Enjoy horse riding pain-free

    A physio can be a huge help if you have any injury concerns and will typically go through a thorough assessment so that you know what the diagnosis is and also what needs to be done to address it. At PhysioSteps we don’t purely treat the injury either and ensure that no stiffness, weakness or asymmetry is missed that could make this injury come back again, which, as a bonus, means you and your horse will likely both perform and move better!

    Our top tips

    1. Protect your lower back

    The up and down motion of rising trots or faster gaits can impact the lower back and lead to increased compression and strain of your spine and the muscle that support it. A good way to avoid aggravating the low back is making sure you have good trunk strength and can maintain a neutral position for your lumbar spine – this can be achieved through a individualised exercise plan from your physio, PT or Pilates

    2. Be kind to your hips & knees

    Increased frequency of riding or improper form can strain the knee ligaments and/or hip adductor muscles.

    The problem with constantly compressing the knees and thighs around the horse is that the groin muscles become a lot stronger but eh opposite muscles (lateral gluteals) can become weaker and deconditioned. This can affect riding form and also hip or knee pain when walking, standing and running. Getting a muscle balance assessment can really help prevent pain and injury coming on ( as well as help address it)

    Here is a great exercise to help that for a start:

    3. Wear the proper stirrup on your horse

    Many serious injuries happen as a result of a boot caught up in the stirrup and resulted in the rider being dragged by his horse


    Look after yourself

    If you’re a seasoned rider, a complete novice or have already injured yourself horse-riding, a comprehensive assessment can be invaluable. Most of us are unaware of our core, our posture and the specific areas we may be strained and compressed. An assessment with one of our physios can help you ride with less pain, less risk of injury and help you keep doing what you love for years to come.