As an owner it can often be confusing as to what the difference between some professions are and who might be the right professional to come and treat your horse.
Quite often I see people ask for a recommendation for a particular type of therapist e.g. a chiropractor and they get a large number of recommendations that are not chiropractors but massage therapist, for instance. This can make things even more confusing and sometimes you don’t realise you are not actually getting what you asked for. Below are some defining features of each profession to allow you the owner to make an informed decision on who is best suited to treat your horse.
May be know as a back specialists
Manipulates joints with gentle and quick movements
May do some soft tissue work if qualified to do so
Can only be called Animal Chiropractor if qualified as a human chiropractor, otherwise they should be called Practitioner of Animal Manipulation. They are generally qualified through McTimoney Chiropractic College
Degree level qualification
RAMP and MAA registered
You may use one when your horse is suffering pelvic and back issues. Or if soft tissue work alone is not working. Soft tissue and manipulations combined make a very effective treatment combination.
In the last couple of years an vet physiotherapist does not need to be qualified in human physiotherapy as they did in the past
Uses soft tissue techniques, equipment such as electo therapy and exercises to treat musculoskeletal issues
Degree level qualification
RAMP, ACPAT, IRVAP, CSP are some of the possible associations for a Vet physio to be registered with
You tend to use a physio when your horse is injured and needs rehabbing, however they do also do maintenance work
Equine Sport Massage/Bodyworker
Works on soft tissue through massage
May have additional qualifications such as acupressure, k-taping, myofascial release
There are several different courses available some more robust than others and it is worth looking into the number of hours, case studies and examinations they had to undergo to qualify
Possibly registered with ICAT, IAAT, ESMA, or IEBWA
Generally used when your horse is stiff and sore. Can be used before or after competition, to help during rehab or general maintenance to reduce the occurrence of overuse injuries.
There are other types of equine therapist that I have not mentioned but the above are the most commonly used by owners. It must be noted that none of the above professions should be diagnosing. This can only be performed by a vet. Also if your horse is lame then it needs to be seen by a vet before any of the above professions commence treatment, with the vets permission. Recently the need for vet permission to treat maintenance cases is no longer required.
Most of you will have heard of carrot stretches but if not then they are a sequence of movements that dynamically mobilese and strengthen your horses core muscles. Narelle Stubbs and Hilary Clayton outline them in a book called ‘Activate your horse’s core’. This is a really good resource to have, and will show you how to get your horse to do the moves. It also shows you how to do other moves like belly lifts, tail pulls and weight shifts.
Belly lifts are a really good way to get your horse activating its core. It specifically works on the abdominal muscles but also brings the thoracic sling into play. To perform a belly lift you need to stand facing your horse’s side behind the elbow. Taking your hands apply pressure between the pectoral muscles on the sternum and gradually run your hands down towards the hind limb. Maintain the pressure as you do this. You should see that your horse lifts through its back. If not play around with the pressure until you find what works.
Backing up causes the hind legs to get right underneath your horse this in turn engages the core muscles and helps strengthen them. It will also highlight whether one side is stronger than the other. You want your horse to move back in a straight line. To perform this move get your horse to stand square and then apply some pressure to their chest asking them to step back. Start with a few steps trying to keep as straight as possible and gradually increase the number of steps. This is also a really good way to get the hind limbs to loosen of before ridden work. This can also be performed when ridden.
These are similar to tail pulls but I prefer giving these to clients as they are not applying any unwanted pressure to the tail. Again dock rocks help strengthen the core muscles. They also help activate the quadricep muscles and the tensor fasciae latae which help to stabilise the hind legs. To perform this stand facing your horses side in line with the hindquarters. Hook your hand over the dock of your horses tail. Gently pull towards you in an arch so that your horses hindquarters gently come towards you. Relax and let your hand return back to the start. Perform this both sides. Start with 5 each side and then gradually increase the repetitions.
Pole work is a great way to get your horse to activate its core and engage its hindquarters. It can be done in hand, ridden or on the lunge. Start off easy with one or two poles in a straight line. Gradually add poles over a number of weeks. Start in walk and then build to trot work. As your horse progresses you can start to raise the poles. Bring it back to one or two poles in walk and build the number of poles up gradually. Alter the distances between poles, create different patterns such as a circle or riding them over a triangle and getting them to bend. If you do this regularly to you start to notice a difference in your horses athleticism.
Long and low work
It is really important to give your horse a session where you have minimal collection. Allow your horse to stretch their necks down while working. A whole session be it schooling or out on a hack (if save to do so) would be beneficial. You can use it as a gentle active recovery session in their training plan. It will allow your horse to stretch and lift through its topline, activating its core muscles
Above are a number of exercises that will help any horse develop their core muscles even top competition horses. It will help develop suppleness, strength and resilience reducing the occurrence of injuries and allowing your horse to train and compete more efficiently and effectively.
If you have any queries please do contact Pollyanna
The core muscles is a term banded about quite a lot but what makes up the core muscles of a horse? Well quite a few in fact. The core muscles are the muscles that stabilise the back and pelvis. They include the abdominal muscle group, sub lumbar muscle group and the epaxial muscle group.
A strong core is important for horses as it is in humans. By developing a strong core a stable foundation can be developed to allow the horse to be balanced while moving. This reduces the chances of injuries as your horse will be able to cope physically with changes around them such as uneven surfaces or slipping. It also helps with posture and allows your horse to manage the weight of a rider by being able to lift through their back.
Below is a brief summary of the muscles that make up your horses core in part two core exercises will be described so that you can help strengthen your horses core.
Function: Aids in defacation, giving birth, and expiration. Supports the abdomen and flexes the back
Origin: Medial surface of asternal ribs thoracolumbar fascia, transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae
Insertion: Aponeurosis to linea alba, xiphoid cartilage
Function: Aids in defacation, giving birth and expiration. Supports the abdomen
Origin: Tuber coax and inguinal ligament
Insertion: Aponeurosis to linea alba, ribs 18, costal cartilage 14-18 and prepubic tendon
Function: Aids in defacation, giving birth and expiration. Supports the abdomen
Origin: Costal part lateral surface of ribs 4-18. Lumbar part thoracolumbar fascia
Insertion: Costal part linea alba and pubic tendon. Lumbar part inguinal ligament and tuber coxae
Function: Aids in defacation, giving birth and expiration. Supports the abdomen
The abdominal muscle group as you can see mainly supports the abdomen and are involved in bodily functions as in breathing and going to the toilet. The abdominals also help support the trunk when exercising. When engaged they help lift through the back giving the horse a top line that can deal with carrying a rider and complex movement patterns like jumping or dressage moves.
Sub lumbar muscles
Origin: Sacropelvic surface of ilium, pelvic surface of sacrum and tendon of psoas minor
Insertion: Lesser trochanter of the femur
Function: Flexes and rotates hip joint laterally, moves limb forward
Origin: Ribs 17-18, ventral surface of bodies and transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae
Insertion: Lesser trochanter of femur
Function: Flexes hip joint, moves limb forward and laterally rotates limb
Fuses with iliacus to form iliopsoas complex
Origin: Bodies of Thoracic vertebrae 17-18 and lumbar vertebrae 1-5
Insertion: Ilium and tubercle of psoas minor
Function: With the vertebral column fixed it draws the pelvis forward. With the pelvis fixed it flexed the vertebral column
The sub lumbar muscle group connects the back and pelvis. It helps stabilise these two components allowing them to function at a higher capacity without sustaining an injury. There are other muscles like the gluteals that also help but these will be discussed another time. The sub lumbar muscle group are the deeper muscles that function as part of the core.
Multifidus (thoracic and lumbar part)
Origin: Artucilar and maxillary processes of sacrum, lumbar and thoracic vertebra
Insertion: Spinous processes of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, spinous process of cervical vertebrae 7
Origin: Cervics portion transverse processes of thoracic vertebrae 1-7 and thoracic part of longissumus dorsi. Longissumus dorsi wing of iliac bone, spinous processes of sacrum, lumbar and thoracic vertebrae
Insertion: Cervicis portion transverse processes of cervical vertebra 4-7. Longissimus dorsi transverse and maxillary processes of cervical vertebrae 4-7 and tubercles of ribs
Function: Extends back and neck, stabilises vertebral column
Origin: Transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae 1-5, cranial margins of ribs
Insertion: Cuadal margins of ribs 1-15, transverse process of cervical vertebrae 7
Function: Bilaterally extends and stabilises vertebral column. Unilaterally bends back
The epaxial muscle group are located along the back unlike the abdominal muscle group. They solely focus on stabilising and moving the back.
So this is a brief summary of the muscles that make up the deep core of the horse. Hopefully it will allow you to have a better understanding of their role and location to help you work with your horse. To further this understanding the second part will discuss exercises that will strengthen all the above muscles.
Footwear is something in the sporting world that can often be over looked. We buy a pair of trainers for multiple uses and use them for a prolonged period of time until they are falling apart and wonder why we sustain injuries.
Overuse injuries can be sustained from not wearing well fitting footwear or the wrong type of footwear for the activity these include;
Patella femoral pain
Other traumatic injuries that can occur from poor footwear include;
Bruised toes and nails
How to choose the right footwear
Buy for your specific sport don’t get walking trainers for running and vice versa. Sports like tennis require more ankle support than running shoes and will have different grips that are suited to the surfaces you are exercising on
Buy for your foot type. If you have low arches then a shoe that has more arch support would be beneficial. Shoe brands have many different models for different foot types. If you are unsure about your foot type then it is a really good idea to see a specialist that can help. www.bootsure.co.uk is one of these specialists who has a wealth of knowledge in this area.
When trying a pair on you want wiggle room for your toes
Footwear should be comfortable from the moment you try them on
You want a snug fit around the heel and midfoot and a thumbs width between your longest toe and end of your shoe.
I often get clients suffering from injuries and when we discuss their trainers it comes apparent that they probably need to be replaced.
Footwear only has a certain amount of mileage before it starts to offer less support and could cause injuries to develop. Roughly a running shoe should be replaced between 300-400 miles.
Some of us however don’t actually know the mileage we run especially if playing a team sport. So the other way to ascertain whether your shoes need replacing is whether the soles are worn especially the heel and if they become less comfortable. It is best to be cautious and buy a new pair so you can gradually break them in while the old pair still have some life in them. This again will reduce the occurrence of injuries.
Footwear as a injury treatment
So poor footwear can cause injury but they can also be used to help treat injuries. If you have a lower limb injury it is always a good idea to take your footwear to your physio or sport therapist. This will allow them to see any wear on your shoes that might indicate poor biomechanics. They can then advise you if a different type of shoe would suit your foot type.
Also sport shoes can be fitted with orthotics to help support your foot in the right areas generating better foot biomechanics and relieving over stressed structures. Cushioning from footwear can also help support feet by reducing unwanted foot motion e.g. pronation. Lacing of shoes can also make a difference it can reduce heel slippage and allow for a snugger fit.
By having properly fitting sporting footwear you can reduce the occurrence of injuries. Your feet are something that need to be looked after as they take a huge amount of stress. When injured they affect your mobility and quality of life. Feet deserve a well fitting pair of sport shoes to allow them to do their job.
Injuries are always a worry for horse owners, they can be expensive, time consuming and painful for your horses. Overuse injuries are something that owners can help reduce. Read on if you would like to know more about overuse injuries and how you as an owner can reduce them.
What is an overuse injury?
As in humans overuse injuries in horses occur due to a build up of micro trauma to tissues and the tissue is unable to repair quickly enough. When training to gain fitness and strength you want to overload your body but you need to give your body time to remodel and repair to be stronger. This is the same in horses. If they are not given the opportunity to recover after training then these micro traumas build up and can cause overuse injuries.
While humans can verbalise discomfort and pain horses often hide this making it really difficult for owners to know when there is something wrong. It is therefore important to know the potential causes of overuse injuries so that you can reduce there impact on your horse.
Causes of Overuse Injuries
Training & Fitness
Horses like humans can be unfit so it is imperative that training is planned to take the horses fitness level into consideration. The training load and frequency want to be increased gradually to allow the body to adjust. If the training load and frequency are increased suddenly and quickly then the horse is unable to make this adjustment and overuse injuries can occur.
Another important aspect of training is giving the horse enough rest time between training sessions. Giving your horse two or more days off a week is a good thing. It allows there bodies to repair and gives them some down time, however if stabled then an in hand walk would be of benefit to allow them to stretch muscles and joints out.
Training should also have different intensities, duration and activities (schooling, hacking, jumping) to create more physiological adaptation in your horse (increase their fitness). If you always keep everything the same then staleness and boredom can set in. By mixing it up you will get better fitness gains and a reduced risk of overuse injuries
Confirmation and Biomechanics
Horses come in so many different shapes and sizes. Some have been breed for specific traits that predispose them to be better suited to a job. As an owner we do need to look at our horses to see if their confirmation suits what we want to do with them. By doing this we can give the horse the best possible chance of not sustaining injuries due to their confirmation. Their confirmation will dictate how they biomechanically move and also show up as tightness in certain areas. For instance I have an ISH who has medial rotation on his lower front limb. This means that he gets tightness in his shoulder. To add to that he has a long neck so quite often he is tight through that shoulder and the base of neck. Regular bodywork in the form of massage, and mobilising stretches (carrot stretches) help reduce tightness and overuse injuries.
Ill fitting tack can cause overuse injuries by placing undue stress on certain structures such as the shoulder and back. The pressure created can cause atrophy of muscle, a change in biomechanics, stress on other areas, and inflammation. Checking tack regularly by a good saddler will help reduce any overuse injuries from poorly fitting tack.
Foot balance is really important in horses. Having a long toes for example puts unwanted strain on structures above and will result in overuse injuries. A farrier should be able to maintain a balance that is suited to your horse. Regular visits should also occur (4-6weeks). Horses hoofs do grow at different rates through the year and so you may even need to change your trimming or shoeing schedule to fit in with this. It is also imperative to be feeding your horse a balanced diet that encourages good hoof growth.
The fuel you put into your horse is important on many levels. Firstly it helps a horse recover after exercise and gives them the energy requirements to perform that exercise without having to use alternative sources like muscle. Secondly a well balanced diet gives all the nutrients to develop strong hooves. If your horse has not got good hoof structure then this will create issues for the rest of the body.
It is also very important for young horses to be getting a good balanced diet so that they don’t develop any growth issues. It is particularly important to look at copper, zinc and magnesium levels as these are all involved with bone development.
Overuse injuries can be caused by many different factors but as owners if we make sure diet, training load, tack, trimming/shoeing and conformational issues are acknowledged and monitored than the prevalence of overuse injuries can be reduced.
Do you ever experience hamstring pain during or after exercise? While you might experience hamstring pain or discomfort it may not be the primary source of your problem read on to find out what might be the cause and how to remedy it.
The hamstrings are made up of three muscles, the bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The adductor magnus can sometimes be referred to as a fourth hamstring as it shares one of its origins with the other hamstrings on the ischial tuberosity (seat bones).
Semitendinosus and semimembranosus only have one orgin but the bicep femoris has two heads. The long head originates from the ischial tuberosity and the short head from the lateral lip of the linea aspera of the femur. The two heads merge and insert onto the head of the fibula in the lower leg. The semimembranosus inserts onto the posterior aspect of the medial condyle of the tibia while the semitendinosus merges with gracilis and sartorius to form the pes anserinus tendon. This then inserts into the proximal, medial shaft of the tibia in the lower leg.
All the hamstrings flex the knee and extend the hip. The semimembranosus and semitendinosus medially rotate the knee and hip while the bicep femoris laterally rotates the knee and hip.
Potential Hamstring Issues
Hamstrings can become grumpy due to a number of reasons. Firstly they may actually experience a strain, tear or feel permanently tight. While the hamstring could be the primary cause it is often other soft tissue structures that are the instigator. So the 3 key things to look at if you experience hamstring issues are
Quadriceps to hamstring strength
Anterior tilt of the pelvis
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Anterior pelvic tilt can come about due to tightness in the hip flexors (iliopsoas: psoas and iliacus) as well as tightness in the quadriceps. The pelvic tilt can stretch the hamstrings as a result you ask the hamstrings to take load in this position. The hamstrings feel tight so you try and stretch them further which probably doesn’t do a lot. If the hamstrings are loaded while being stretched then they have less elasticity are are more likely to injure. So by releasing or stretching the hip flexors and quadriceps you can reduce anterior tilt of the pelvis and allow the hamstrings to relax more. This should reduce the chances of straining them.
Another consequence of anterior pelvic tilt can be the gluteal muscles not activating properly. Gluteal activation is not always dependant on anterior pelvic tilt being present. Sports than involve sitting on bending over and not full hip extension can also cause the glutes to not activate. As a result the hamstrings activate before the gluteal muscles do. This again puts extra strain on the hamstrings making them more vulnerable to injury. So to combat this getting the gluteals activating, strong and doing their job will take the load off the hamstrings.
Quadriceps to hamstring strength
Athletes often focus on strengthening the quadriceps and forget about their hamstring. Quadriceps should be stronger because of their job but one of the hamstrings job is to control and stabilise extension of the knee. If this didn’t happen then the strength of the quadriceps would cause the knee to over extend, and cause hamstring injuries. As a result it is really important to do specific hamstring exercises such as Nordic hamstring curls.
Below is a video on how to keep your hamstrings happy and reduce the possibility of sustaining and injury to them
Pain is something that most horse owners are aware off and as owners we do worry whether are equine friend is in pain. Horses are very stoic creatures, in that I mean they don’t always show us when they are in pain. As a result we need to get good at reading the signs which were discussed in a previous post (Equine Pain: Are we missing the signs)
Can we as owners help reduce the chance of our horses feeling pain? Well yes to a certain extent. Below is a dicussion on potential causes of musculoskeletal pain in horses, which in turn may help owners to reduce the likely hood of horses experiencing pain or at least chronic pain.
Tack is a big area that most owners know can cause discomfort and there is a lot of research being conducted into the amounts of pressure tack can produce. Centaur Biomechanics have been doing a lot of research into saddle , girth and bridle pressure. The results are fascinating and illuminating.
Noseband pressure can be immense and quite a bit greater than saddle pressure. So it is really important to make sure all your tack fits. It doesn’t need to be expensive tack as this isn’t a guarantee it will fit your horse. If in doubt then make sure you get a properly qualified saddle fitter to check. Make sure your tack is checked regularly especially if your horse loses or gains weight.
Soreness from Exercise
As humans you have all felt what we call delayed onset muscle soreness. Where we exercise and then 24-72 hours later our muscles feel sore and stiff. Well horses potentially experience the same thing from hard bouts of exercise. This is not long lasting and with time will go, but it is something to be aware of.
This is something that can easily be solved by introducing massage post competition or after heavy training sessions. It will promote recovery and well being in your horse allowing you to train harder with your horse and reduce the chances of injuries occurring.
Another point to consider is incorporating recovery time into your horses training. This can be full rest or a light ride on a lose rein (where it is safe to) or a combination of both. Recovery time is when your horses body heals itself from exercise by doing this your horse becomes fitter. If we work our horses hard all the time without rest then overuse injuries and illness can be more prevalent and affect their ability to train and get fitter.
A fall or impact can cause contusions to muscles. This causes bleeding within the muscle resulting in bruising, however due to horses having fur it is not always possible to see if swelling is not present. If you know your horse has sustained an impact injury then massage is to be avoided in the first few days. Instead hose or ice the area. This reduces swelling and the cold helps relieve some pain. In some cases an impact can lead to myosotis ossificans, which is where bone forms inside the muscle.
Trauma can occur to joints, this can be from an impact which can cause joint disruption. As a result ligaments, tendons, bone fractures and cartilage damage can all occur. Joints can also become inflamed from less minor injuries and osteoarthritis can also occur in joints.
Bones can fractures or crack from impact or overuse. If the horse doesn’t get enough recovery time then micro cracks (stress fractures) can form. Bones heel much better than tendons and ligaments but this is dependant on where the fracture is.
Tendon and Muscle Strains
Tendons are less elastic than muscles so often when the muscle is tight the tendon takes up the load and as result is more likely to get injured. Unfortunately tendons also don’t have as good blood supply as muscle, so do take longer to heal. By allowing your horse recovery time and having regular body work sessions muscle and tendon strains can be reduced considerably.
Bone disease can be due to nutrition or genetics. If it is genetics then this is harder to deal with but as an owner nutrition is something we can influence. Making sure your horse has a good balanced diet will help reduce bone disease. Making sure your horse is getting copper, zinc, magnesium and vitamin A and D. It can be difficult getting the right balance so if in doubt then seek advice from a nutritionalist. If bone disease is genetic then your horse needs veterinary guidance to develop a plan that will help reduce their pain and impact on their everyday life.
Past injuries can leave scar tissue, which can create stiffness and be sore. Having regular body work can help reduce this. Joints that have previously been injured can develop osteoarthritis. Again veterinary advice may need to be taken to help develop a management plan.
Ulcers can be quite prevalent and often a result of stress. Removing the stress, altering diet and treating the ulcers will help to get rid of them. Quite often ulcers can form due to chronic pain. So it is worth looking at your whole horse when combating ulcers.
Myopathies (muscle disease)
Myopathies are often put under the umbrella term tying up. They are either genetic or acquired later in life. I am not going to go into much detail of what they are but this can cause horses muscle stiffness and soreness. If managed correctly with exercise, diet and body work then this can be hugely reduced.
As you can see there are a number of things that can affect musculoskeletal pain and the above is no way all of them. If your horse is in pain then do consult your vet as soon as you notice any change in behaviour. This will help reduce vet bills and your horses suffering. From there a plan can be put in place to manage your horses pain.
Patella maltracking (or patella femoral pain) is a common occurrence in the sporting knee. It is an overuse injury where the patella is slightly pulled out of its normal position causing irritation and inflammation under the knee cap as it rubs against other structures.
Patella maltracking can be caused by tightness in soft tissue such as the tensor facea latae, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis and potentially bicep femoris. As a result the vastus medialis may also be weak and unable to counter act the tight muscles pulling the patella out or up. As a result the tight muscles need to be released of through soft tissue work and the vastus medialis strengthened. With the primary cause being dealt with taping the knee can help reduce pain and re-educate the movement patterns required.
Below is a video on how to tape your knee to reduce pain and allow you to exercise and strengthen your knee.
It is a real shame that our horses can’t tell us they are in pain, where the pain is or how painful something is. As a result we may miss when they are actually experiencing pain. Which as a horse owner I hate the idea of. The last thing I want is my horse suffering because I was unable to identify when something was not quite right. Well there may be a way of identifying pain in your equine friend. Read on to find out more
Horses tend to be described as stoic creatures. What is meant by this some may say? Well, horses are a herd animal and as a result they tend not to show when they are in pain, or sore, so that predators don’t single them out. It helps them survive, as a result it makes it quite difficult as owners to see if they are in pain. Some horses are more stoic than others.
So how as owners can we read the subtle signs horses might give out when they are is discomfort or pain? Lameness is often a big sign that something is wrong but can we identify the issue before the lameness becomes so apparent, well yes we can.
Sue Dyson and colleagues have been carrying out numerous studies to identify behavioural markers, that can help predict lameness and musculoskeletal pain being experienced by horses. It is termed the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram and consists of 24 behaviours that consistently predict lameness in horses. Generally if there are more than 8 of these behaviours then the horse is considered to be in pain and there is probably an underlying lameness which may not be apparent to untrained eye
These behaviours include some of the following;
Tilting the head
Holding tail to one side
Head under or over the vertical/bit
Unwillingness to go forward
Eyelid half closed
White of the eye showing
Spontaneously changing gait
Bit pulled through to one side
Poor quality canter
These are all behaviours that our horses have exhibited at some point but this may only be for seconds, however if for instance the ears are back for longer than 10 seconds and regularly through a ride then this may be a sign that something is uncomfortable for them.
Horses are not inherently naughty, and if people or you are describing your horse like this then perhaps they are experiencing musculoskeletal discomfort. As horse owners we need to make it a priority to be better at identifying pain related behaviours and this will allow our horses to lead a much better quality of life.
By knowing the behaviours above, you as an owner can identify any potential musculoskeletal issues sooner, which in the long run may reduce vet bills. If your horse isn’t showing any lameness but is exhibiting some of the above behaviours, either regularly, or perhaps they have occurred out of the blue, then your horse may benefit from a soft tissue therapist (equine massage therapist/bodyworker) to come and relieve any musculoskeletal soreness. This is something that all horses in regular work should get.
This post isn’t to scare you as an owner but to make you more aware. You don’t all need to think that you have to stop riding your horses because they show some of the above behaviours. Horses like humans can have muscle soreness from exercise or something they may have done that they are not used to. Humans, however are able to do something about this unlike horses. So it maybe that as an owner you make sure your horse gets regular bodywork, or that you stretch your horse and give them days where you ride them on a lose rein to help them recover.
You may wonder sometimes how you sustained an injury when you didn’t have a noticeable traumatic event like a fall. Generally injuries that have no obvious event and build up over time are called overuse injuries. They are really common and can be caused by a number of things. Read on if you want to find out more.
What is an overuse injury
Overuse injuries are a build up of micro trauma to a certain area. The body goes through a process of remodelling to help adapt to stresses placed on it. Through this process we get fitter and stronger. However if this process is disrupted we can’t remodel correctly, as a result we sustain an injury if it continues. Often overuse injuries have inflammation along with the micro trauma.
Examples of overuse injuries
Patella tendon tendinopathy
Causes of overuse injuries
Frequency of training
Not enough rest
Old or poorly fitting footwear
If you want to reduce the risk of sustaining an overuse injury then making sure you increase your training load and frequency gradually with enough rest in between sessions will allow your body to react well to exercise, having regular massages can also help this process. Also making sure you eat a healthy balanced diet to give your body the building blocks to remodel and lastly making sure your equipment is up to the job I.e. fits you and is not worn otherwise this can change your biomechanics and loading of certain tissues.
If you find that you are suffering from an overuse injury then do consult a physio, sport therapist or doctor to help with management and rehabilitation.