Going to a PT for me! Did it help you?

Anyone seen improvement in their riding after seeing a Physical Therapist? I have some nerve entrapment in my right shoulder that is the main reason to go see a PT, but I’d like to work on some of the issues I feel during my riding. Mostly being SO right dominant that I might as well not even have a left side of my body. None of it is strong. I make sure my horse is physically feeling his best to perform the exercises I ask of him, it’s time for me to do the same!

Also, I assume the PT I will be visiting (haven’t gotten the required referral yet, love the US healthcare system) doesn’t have experience with riding horses/dressage, anything you found helpful in explaining that we don’t just sit there and the horse does all the work?? :wink:


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I did it for my back. Definitely helped resolve the pain issues I was having which improved my riding.

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I’ve done PT various times for arthritic issues: after two joint replacements, for arthritis in my neck, my knees…

After the shoulder replacement, I regained range of motion quite well and medical folks were happy. But, I didn’t regain strength until Pilates. That has done far more for making my body even than anything else. I would recommend Pilates over PT for your one-sidedness, but PT is great for localized pain.

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If you want to develop strength in your non dominant side and even out your body I suggest getting a personal fitness trainer who can work with you on developing strength and flexibility.

It depends…If you were going for lower back issues/leg weakness you would likely see an improvement. I have these issues, with some nerve impingement mostly on the right side and it definitely made my riding worse. I went 2x per week, 4 weeks, got a bunch of exercises for stretching certain muscles, and another bunch for strengthening my core and lower right side. I’m not back where I was a couple years ago, but I am much improved from last summer/fall. The therapist I worked with does barrel racing so she had some understanding. I invested in a ball and bands, and I’m quite diligent (but not perfect) in doing some combination of the list every day.
You can ask them for thoughts on your other issues, and see what they say, but you may find, with the med referral, that they cant range too far from the shoulder issue.

I, too, had a shoulder/posture issue, probably from being a commercial animator for years, hunched over a desk with my right hand/arm/shoulder taking the punishment for hours at the drawing board.

Yes, it has helped and I keep up with the exercises the PT’s gave me.

I assume the PT will be familiar with body strength asymmetry.

shoulders are nothing to fool around with, they take a lot of work and maintenance. Once you are on your program, stay with it ,even when feeling better.

Pilates, I found, is great for bringing core strength into balance, You might work towards adding that to your program . There are Pilates for riders programs I recommend Beth Glostin

Thank you all for sharing your experiences! Since pilates came up a couple of time – do you mean mat pilates (or a program that can be done at home) or reformer pilates? I do have a ball and bands, as well as TRX straps.

I do have access to personal trainers (my husband works in the fitness industry) so I may need to do a combination of physical therapy for my shoulder, and personal training to improve my strength and symmetry.

I only tried the reformer pilates a few times- maybe 6ish. I didnt really like it and somehow I didn’t feel like I got as good a workout.

Anything that is causing you to use your body asymmetrically, whether it’s a weaker vs stronger side, or a crooked seat bone or crooked upper body, will negatively impact your riding, so by addressing that, it should improve things, at least to the level of training you have.

I have done a lot of purposeful asymmetric training with my body for the last several years, and it’s made a huge difference in everything I do, and it’s not just about riding, it’s about how we go through our whole day.

As for a non-rider PT - explain to them you need a very stable but not stiff seat, and need to be able to separate upper body movement from lower body movement. You also need to be able to independently move your seat bones to influence the horse. You need to be able to increase tautness (healthy tension) in any part of your body without other parts also coming along

A good PT should know what good posture is about - shoulders back and down, core appropriately taut, pelvis neither posteriorly nor anteriorly tilted, shoulders-hips-heels in alignment, that sort of thing All that applies directly to riding posture as well.

agree with those who are recommending pilates. regular classes didn’t do it for me, as i found (at least at the places i tried) that there wasn’t enough attention paid on proper cueing or personal attention given to making sure it’s being done properly. but private classes - oh boy - now that’s a workout!!

I started reformer Pilates a few years ago, before the pandemic. I go to classes at a local studio. It has done more for evening me out side to side, and getting my shoulder strength back, than all the multiple PT’s . I stand and sit taller and straighter and am definitely stronger throughout my body.

I have found that different instructors give different experiences. Some are much harder than others. Some are stickler for form. Some not so much. I am older and some of the really young teachers kind of ignore me but others are super kind and helpful. I have learned which ones to avoid. I have worked my way up to level 2.5, the highest level offered at this studio, with one particular instructor. I have to modify some of the exercises to accommodate my various arthritic body parts.

I think, starting out, the basic Pilates seems pretty easy. But it definitely can be a workout. Not as aerobic as some, but really strengthens core and major muscles.

A good friend is a PT and he has a clinic in his home where he works evenings and weekends (plus he works at a commercial clinic in the city M-F). I live in Canada and have excellent workplace benefits so my coverage is likely different but I can (and do) call him up regularly for appointments. We have worked on many things over the past decade or so. His wife is a RMT and we are good friends as well… so I am lucky to have access to a great “body work” team.

The one thing I have learned is - I can get some instant relief for acute pain by going in for PT, but in order to actually fix the problem I need to be religious about my assigned exercises and stretches. I keep the sheet with my “program” on my fridge. I will say a lot of my exercises are things that come up a lot in the Yoga with Adrienne videos I do which is helpful. I’ve never done pilates but perhaps that would be similar?

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PT is helpful. I don’t think they will help you with generalized weakness on one side without a prescription, however. Usually they get one from a doctor to address specific issues. If this is a private pay situation, you may get what you need. Or if the asymmetry contributes to the shoulder issue.

I had tremendous luck working with someone specializing in orthobionomy to address pain while riding and asymmetry. I can’t believe my right leg actually works when I ride now. Hahahaha. This is a practice that is basically meant to reprogram your nervous system pathways to let go of bad habits and crookedness. I’m sure there is a more eloquent way to say it but that’s the crux of it.

I didn’t think about this but of course not all pilates instructors are the same- silly me. The one I tried was good at running a mat class, and apparently not so good doing a one-on-one reformer class in her garage…Maybe one day I will try again.

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I attend a Pilates class with 4 people once a week. It’s probably kind of a mixture Pilates class we do exercises on the mat use the straps once in a while and work with a ball as well. The instructors knows our weaknesses and kind of switches the excersises around so everybody gets what they need for their specific situation. The nice thing is that it’s paid by the health insurance as kind of a prevention for back issues.

It was a big awakening for me because the mobility of my shoulders and my lower back is amazing now, while before I was rather stiff…. She is very particular about everybody doing the exercises correctly which helps a lot. So I would really recommend Pilates!!!

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