Equestrian Training & Physical Therapy in Moorpark:

I observe riders try to achieve symmetry and balance when riding. Finding that balance and symmetry helps the horse’s movement and balance.
Asymmetry creates a negative effect from the rider to the horse.

High level riders who ride with asymmetrical positions can create lower back and/or neck pain. An asymmetrical position causes unusual forces on the horse leading to a change in how they move.

Balanced riders develop a complex sensorimotor process that helps maintain their postural control and equilibrium.


Foam roll stretching, which is static stretching, is reserved for the period after a riding session to provide health related range of motion benefits. Foam rolling and stretching with elastic bands are both popular. These stretches are designed to improve muscle function, motor performance, joint range of motion (ROM), and decrease the feeling of fatigue and muscle soreness.

Stretching on the foam roll or using elastic bands is best if done for 20-40 seconds in duration with 4-5 repetitions to maintain specific muscle shortening that occurs after riding. It also prevents or reduces muscle and joint injury. There is strong evidence that stretching reduces the incidence of a muscle strain. Restriction of muscle length and joint mobility causes over-recruitment of some muscles, inflammation, muscle imbalances and can reduce sports performance.
Dynamic stretching is recommended prior to the activity.

Dynamic stretching is a movement based stretch aimed on increasing blood flow throughout the body while also loosening up the muscle fibers. Standard dynamic stretches typically involve slow and controlled active contraction of muscles. Active stretches stimulate and prepare muscles for use during exercise. Active stretches not only stretch the muscle and tissue but prepares the muscles for active by activating and warming them up. An example of such a dynamic stretch are lunges, single knee to chest, straight leg kick, heel to rear jog.

Sports that necessitate a high degree of static flexibility should use short duration static stretching (less than 10 secs) with low intensity to minimize the possibility of injury.

Compared to the general population a high incidence of back pain is found among riders. A significant correlation between intensity, frequency and severity of back pain could not be found. There is a higher incidence of spondylolisthesis in riders compared to the normal population. It is important for riders to possess a strong core to prevent painful spinal compression. Intervention with specific exercises has a positive effect in lower back pain relief and prevention.

Hamstring tightness increases the mechanical load on the lumbar spine. Home based active stretching has a positive effect in lower back pain due to spondylolisthesis.

Riders should perform stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and to prevent lumbar spine disorders.

I recommend a visit to your physical therapist to safely learn how to increase your strength and flexibility for riding. This can help prevent recurrent lower back pain.

Our clients learn how to do these and other exercises and stretches correctly. After an evaluation, there may be others that could help.

Do not do these unless you have been evaluated by your physical therapist. They are not for everyone.
1. Pressups
2. IT band stretches with knee flexed and extended
3. Hamstring stretches
4. Rectus femoris stretch?
5. Hip flexors stretch
6. Piriformis stretch
7. Pectoral stretch
8. Lateral trunk rotation

The most common injuries of a rider is of the head and cervical spine. The best prevention is by wearing a helmet.- American Journal of Sports Medicine 2009

A review of medical journals suggest that all riders have a high prevalence of lower back pain compared to the general population. Conclusive evidence suggests that the cause lies in undue disc degeneration (spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis) and pathlogic changes of the paraspinal muscles of the lumbar spine.

Further research shows that active stretching of the lower extremities reduces muscle tightness and lower back pain due to lumbar spondylolisthesis. Stretching decreases the mechanical load on the lumbar spine. Maintaining flexibility reduces lumbar spine disorders. There is a positive effect using physical therapy intervention to reduce riders lower back pain

Important hip stretches for Riders to reduce abnormal stress on the lumbar spine

1. Hamstrings
2. Iliotibial band
3. Hip flexors
4. Lumbar erectors

Theses muscles are in a shortened position when riding. They work concentrically and eccentrically.

To stretch or not to stretch – the role of injury prevention and performance. (2017 J strength and conditioning)

Recent strategy to improve sports performance

Foam rolling – a technique with the foam roll to reduce myofascial restrictions brought on by muscle imbalances, over-recruitment of muscles or inflammation, all of which can reduce sports performance

Static stretch to increase rom done after exercise

Dynamic stretching within a warm up – dynamic stretch, prior to activity, is a submaximal intense aerobic activity followed by large amplitude dynamic stretching (sports specific)