What Can Pilates Do For Your Riding Injuries?


I was riding my daughter’s 20 year-old Arab at a walk on a loose rein in our arena when he spooked, spun left, and bolted, leaving me hanging in the air. Do you remember way, way back when EQUUS magazine had a cartoon cover of a horse spooking and the rider and the tack were in the proper position but separated from the horse and hanging in midair about three feet to the right? Well, that was me, but without the tack. And I think my right foot was caught in the stirrup, so all the muscles on my right side were pulled or strained. I’m embarrassed to say that Pilates didn’t help to prevent the accident or injury.

Did I get back on and finish the ride? Damn straight, I did. Then, somehow I got off again, walked to the barn, untacked, and actually managed to put the tack away BEFORE calling the hubby to take me to the chiropractor. No right turns, please!

With the whole right side of my back strained – from shoulder blade to pelvis, I could bend over but not straighten up again without the muscles going into a very painful spasm. I could squat and as long as I didn’t hinge forward at the hips. There were some other movements I couldn’t do either, certain twists or motions of my right arm. I couldn’t pull my arm back, but I could take it to the side. To get out of a chair, I had to tuck my pelvis and scoot forward to the front edge of the chair, then push with my legs to stand. Sometimes I could also push with my arms, not in the beginning. As long as my back was straight up already, I could stand. Getting into and out of bed was a painful struggle.

An adjustment, pain pills, ice, taking it easy, acupuncture, generic valium, more ice, more acupuncture, more pain pills, massage, along with a wonderful boarder who did stall cleaning, and a son and husband who did the bending over and filling of feed buckets, were all therapeutic. And I’m greatly appreciative. What would any of us do without the helpful people in our lives?

But what does this all have to do with Pilates? After the accident, my Pilates training enabled me to both safely continue moving and decreased my pain. Tucking my pelvis and engaging my pelvic floor relieved the pain in my back and prevented a possible spasm.  I could still feed my horses, manage fly masks and sheets, and refill feed buckets. My understanding of how to apply the strength of my core saved me.

Remember that having a Pilates practice does not replace a visit to your regular physician after a fall. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as many deep injuries may require an x-ray for proper diagnosis. I’ve been bucked off and had two days go by before an x-ray showed my ribs were broken. A prompt visit to the ER could have saved me some grief. Always assess your injuries and seek appropriate medical assistance.

But once you’re back on the mend, be sure you add core strengthening and stabilization training to your rehab work. Pilates core work will enable you to be back at the barn and back in the saddle with more efficiency and ease.

I am so grateful for my Pilates training!

About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
Gallery | This entry was posted in Fitness, Pilates, Pilates, Riding & Fitness, Riding Fitness, Riding Pilates and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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