I think there is plenty of anectdotal evidence of your theory, maybe even some studies somewhere. Having screwed up a few nerves in my lifetime, I would say any repetitive and certainly impact type sport is going to damage nerves in the long run. Years ago my legs had weird symptoms from a carefully progressive running program, I eventually tried cutting back , I tried just walking, I still had lingering problems. More recently a year ago my arms went pretty non functional, the doctor was mumbling about MS by this time, but was no actual help. The cause was shoveling and bucking bales (pretty unavoidable if you care for a horse, or live in Canada and shovel snow). I am happy to report I have most of the use of my arms back after a year of physio. Except that my old hip and leg problems were aggravated by riding. I am really being as careful as possible every day to prevent the whole thing regressing this time around. According to the physiotherapist (one of the best in my area, has prevented people going under the knife), what happens is as muscles and tendons fatigue from overuse, poor conditioning, or microtears, they often spasm and squeeze nerves, as one cause for nerve malfunction. Also muscles and tendons are what keep your joints and spine correctly aligned. If they are weak or overworked, the nerves, which are usually somewhere near joints are under pressure and can be temporarily or permanently damaged. In my case even the blood circulation was being affected, which of course messes up the muscles and nerves too. Moral of the story, if you are not really well conditioned before you get in the saddle, you are risking problems. A rising trot where possible, unless your horse is being very kind and gentle that day, would certainly be a help. I also now use a dense foam cover on my saddle to reduce the impact on my body, because I do like to sit the trot sometimes, and hopefully will add some benefit for my horse. But I have a slightly more stuffed dressage saddle in the hope of helping him as well. My old approach of ignoring pain and just pushing ahead regardless is out the window, because pain is a signal from your body that you need to condition that body part better. Just stretches and a little warm up (or taking time off) is not enough, riding uses every part of your body, so you have to strengthen everything, especially in those breaks from riding. Also body builders and football players know that you don't overwork the same muscles on consecutive days, you have to alternate working and resting when building strength to give the muscle time to grow and recover properly before you increase demand if you want to avoid injury.
Bugger the people, what about the horses!! If your doing so much sit trot that your damaging your back what's happening to the horses back??
I think most horses make all of their back muscles tense, which makes the rider bounce even worse and you have two unhappy creatures, horse and rider.
Whoever invented the posting trot was an unsung genius. I do wish we knew his name.
Hi Jackie :)
This is my first response to anything on Barnmice and I'm so excited that it's related to something I feel very strongly about... crosstraining!
I do agree that you are onto something: that repetitive motion --particularly repetition with impact-- may have adverse effects upon the structures involved. It is seen across the board in every sport that exists; runners with stress fractures or plantar fascitis; baseball players with rotator cuff problems; wrist injuries in weight lifters... the list goes on and on. And let's not forget the horses! Jumpers with splints, dressage horses with suspensory damage, fractures in running horses, kissing spines in schooling horses... again, the list is endless.
Which is why it's so important to cross train.
As riders --of any and all disciplines-- we can benefit from sports and activities like yoga, weight training, and hiking. As a body builder, I have always been taught to work muscle groups hard enough to promote growth, while providing adequate (and necessary!) rest. Never work the same muscles to failure on consecutive days, and remember that it is after a work out that the body is repairing and rebuilding. So of course, if you and your horse perform the same movements/exercises/activities day in and day out, you can pretty much count on an injury sooner or later.
It is SO important to recognize and address the first signs of burn-out. If your horse (or you!) feel just a little "off," there's no shame in readdressing your intention for that particular ride. A dressage horse who must walk up and down hills is still conditioning and toning his hindquarters, without taxing his body in the same repetitive motion as trotting endlessly in circles of varying sizes and degrees of collection/extension. The rider who can hammer out the Pilates 100 with 5 lb dumb bells in her hands is still strengthening her core without the repetitive crunch! of gravity pulling her down into her tack.
Variety and rest are the keys to maintaining a healthy fit body, I believe that 100%. Thanks for bringing up such a marvelous topic, Jackie :) No doubt you've discovered you've hit a bit of a nerve for me!
Thank you Sharise for your comments. You bring up many important points to consider!
And Allan, I finally learned the mobilization of my pelvis by trying to keep my seat bones exactly in the same place in the saddle, one front, up and "out", the other back, down and "in", it makes me more tired but it really reduces the bang, bang, bang. Of course the bang never goes completely away when the horse gets suspension, it just gets reduced, so I limit the amount of the sitting trot I do.
Remember when we were young everyone told us to practice, practice, practice? Somehow they never told us about the damage we were doing to our bodies, damage that can bring a lot of pain in our more mature years. All work and no play can do a lot of harm.
It is the old man's humble opinion that the sitting trot is done wrong by the majority of riders and thus they are causing damage to their body.
The current standard for sitting trot has the pelvis rising and falling into the saddle while at the same time inducing forward and backward motion to the plevis.......the caveat......it is done with the pelvis as one piece.
The hips of the rider should move forward and backward independent of eachother in sync with the hips of the horse, ie., rider's left hip with horse's left hip. This removes the negative motions currently being shown as the acceptable standard for sitting trot.
Excellent point Mr Buck! I have been trying to teach my students that when a horse trots, it is more close to a jogger running than a kangaroo hopping, so ride it accordingly. ... this usually gets very animated and somewhat ridiculous during lessons... the kids get a good laugh out of me hippity-hopping around the arena- but it sure gets the point across :)