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As an equestrian you cannot be blamed for letting your horse's health take priority a lot of the time. After all, they're quite literally the reason you love and can do the sport. That said, there is a now a growing interest in horse rider fitness and equestrian workouts. In this post we'll be taking a look at the best ways to be Protecting Your Joints as a Horse Rider.
Before we jump right into a actionable tips on protecting your own joints, we thought we’d provide a bit of information on how your joints work, why they’re important (not just the obvious reasons) and what forces riding can exert on them.
In your body is 206 bones, they are comprised of long bones, short bones, flat bones, irregular bones and sesamoids.
Your bones require activity to ensure a healthy delivery of calcium for repair and strengthening.
Attaching all these together is your cartridge (between your joints for shock absorption essentially), ligaments (stabilise your joints) and tendons (attach joint to muscle for movement).
Grouped together these parts of you are called synovial joints. There are 6 types of joint in the human body; hinge, saddle, ball and socket, pivot, gliding and ellipsoid. As a rider, you’ll be putting a fair amount of continuous stress on nearly all of these. Which means they should really have extra protection.
As an example, just sitting in the saddle will put your hip joints at a slight angle, with your tendons activated and cartilage and ligaments ensuring shock absorption and stability. If you weaken these areas, then riding doesn’t just become a literal pain in the backside, but also dangerous for long term health.
As a note, we’re not just going to try and sell you Pilot’s Rider Joint Protection supplement here. But if you’re interested you can see it here.
So, now you have a semi basic understanding of your skeletal system, it’s time to understand why it’s important for equestrians to take care of their own joints.
Your joints and bones are crucial (duh) and without them we’d be a sack of meat. As we spoke about above, they’re so crucial you’d be a sack of meat without them.
Horse Riding exerts a lot of force onto your body, in fact even a simple slow ride along a beach can still play havoc for your joints.
When you put pressure on your joints, if they are weak, they can become damaged. And because cartridge and ligaments have a very limited blood flow, it can be extremely hard for them to repair themselves. Meaning that damaged joints can be a horribly big burden for life.
By looking after your joints you’ll find yourself much more comfortable in the saddle and able to move more freely day to day. Even cutting back on the soreness of a days eventing.
Age and Riders Joints
As you get older (bleurgh!) the health of your joints will start to decline. Generally ossification (bone growth) finishes between 18-30. From here your hormones will play a role in keeping your bones healthy and strong, but sadly degradation is inevitable.
In order to offset this, you need to think ‘use it or lose it’ and the more active you are, the longer you’ll find you can keep your mobility as a horse rider and in life!
Younger Riders and Joints
Younger riders should also consider regular exercise and optimal nutrition, as bone growth occurs between the end of the bone (the epiphysis) and the diaphysis (shaft).Here you have the epiphyseal plates, which can, if overworked and not looked after become weakened and cause joint and bone issues later in life.
Here are some simple lifestyle tips which can really help you keep your joints and bones healthy.
Some may be slightly more difficult than others (#1 especially) but even implementing these a little into your weekly routine can make a big difference and will get you in the saddle for many years to come!
It’s tragic, but it’s also scientific fact that alcohol and caffeine can slow down and damage the absorption of calcium into your bones.
And, as we all know calcium is absolutely crucial to maintain healthy bones and jones and joints.
We put this as number 1 to get the difficult one out of the way.
As you move your blood flow increases to your joints and bones (yes bones have blood flow) and this helps deliver calcium and other key nutrients and hormones like IGF-1, a growth hormone.
Coupled with that fact that you’ll also have increased secretion of synovial fluid which is basically a lubricant for your joints, means you’ll be feeling supple, strong and flexible.
We’ve covered that alcohol and caffeine can inhibit the absorption of calcium, well it’s also important to try and maintain a wider healthy diet to keep your joints and bones healthy.
Oily foods can help maintain joint health because they have a high amount of omega 3. This is a natural anti inflammatory. Other foods with this effect include, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and avocado! In short, if you’re really wanting to keep your joints from creaking, eating plenty of green vegetables, nuts and fish is a great place to start.
When UV rays from the sun hit your skin, you’re body produces vitamin D. Vitamin D actually helps your body absorb calcium in the small intestine. Coupled with the fact that a high percentage are deficient in the sunshine vitamin, means getting out on the saddle is even better for your health than you thought!
Right, so above are great ways for you to maintain and protect your joints as a horse rider. We're not ones to toot our own horn...but...
At Pilot we offer a fully developed and rider tested joint care product called Protect. This is a supplement that uses key natural compounds and helps maintain and strengthen your joints. We made revive based off scientific studies, and so each ingredient has a powerful benefit for equestrians.
Protect does not replace the need for healthy nutrition and exercise, but it can be a very easy way to start easing discomfort and ensuring you can ride for longer and longer.