Hip Pinch/Muscle Cramp during Lateral Work - Fibromyalgia Troubles: UPDATE POST 48


So the past year has been rather good to me riding wise. We’re jumping cross rails and verticals now!! Even got to try my trainer’s more forward lesson horse on the flat, but while I could keep up with him (loved his forward gait), I could not keep him from stringing out and leaning through everything. My quarter-horse-wanna-be-TB lesson horse has much more natural balance, but he’s slow as molasses.

That said: I’m having a lot of trouble with my hip flexors. It feels like I have very little ability to encourage proper carriage through circles and lateral work. Right now I am using my crop to help my left leg (a light tap or two on the shoulder reminds him to listen to my very weak signals) as it’s the weaker of the two. Partway through my lessons, particularly lateral/circle work, I will feel like the outside of my hip (usually the left) is trying to collapse in on itself and I will have to cross the leg over the withers and lean forward to stretch it out. My left pinky toe will also go numb. (Note: He is such an amazing horse putting up with all my weird yoga poses in the saddle!)

I am doing a lot of core/hip exercises (knee planks, side leg lifts, donkey kicks, and tons of stretching), but as anyone with Fibromyalgia know, muscle building is a long term game with very slow gains. I also do not hold any kind of flexibility/looseness in my muscles so I asked my trainer for longer warmups to stretch.

TL:DR - Hitting a wall with hip troubles, particularly with lateral/circle work. Thoughts/Commiserations/Tips/Suggestions?

Update Edit

Doc found nothing. My x-rays are perfectly clean and I apparently “have a great set of hips”. Which surprised me given the amount of falling off horses I’ve done as a “I can handle any buck teenage rider” lol. I would have thought I’d have at least SOME arthritis or signs of injury.

He suggested it may be some inflammation setting off fibro which starts a cycle of pain so to try some ibuprofen at an anti-inflammatory therapeutic level as long as my stomach can handle it.

Looks like the weakness issues are just more problems with the fibro. Woohoo.

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Are you using silicon breeches to do flat work?

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Have you ever had xrays of your hips?

I did, for a running issue, and I have FAI - so the issue isn’t related to tight hip flexors or other tightness, but a lack of range of motion of the bones. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/femoroacetabular-impingement/

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still do hip strengthening and stretching - but it might be worth finding out if you have a skeletal issue that leads to a lack of range of motion. At least then you know your limitations and aren’t trying to fix something that is not fixable, but working within the limitations you have rather than thinking you’re just not working hard enough at it.


I agree it’s worth a visit to your orthopedist. A surprising number of people live their whole lives with hip pathology, and it’s often no trouble–until it is. Hip dysplasia, hip arthritis, impingement, version issues…can all cause problems. That persistent muscle tightness may indicate joint instability in particular–I know it did for me.

If you were facing something like this in your horse, you’d call in the vet. Do yourself the same kindness & hit up the doctor.


Try a different saddle. Mine do that when the saddle is not right for me.


Another possibility is the inside of the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles can greatly effect everything you mentioned. Consider a consultation with a Urogynocologist. It has been discussed herr before.

With proper PT you may find more comfort and freedom of tight hip muscles. You will learn that proper breathing is important.

Exam and PT does involve vaginal / digital manipulation. I went through this therapy almost 2 years ago and went from barely able to walk upright to full participation in my sport in 2 months.


to the xray: No I haven’t, though I had a podiatrist tell me that “your muscles are so tight you’ll likely never have full range of motion” when I told him that I’ve always been like that. I’ll look into it thanks :slight_smile: I see a rheumatologist for my fibro so she may have a good referral suggestion.

My mom just was diagnosed with a weak pelvic floor due to her surgeries (C-section and hysterotomy) so she’s going through the strangeness of pelvic floor PT.

The fibromyalgia is a PIA because I tend to a: power through because b: I think “it’s just the fibro”

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That I am not sure. I am using Irideon’s old line of tights as they’re the ONLY breeches that I ever found in a short length that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get. I still have pairs on hangers when I bought their “we’re not doing this anymore” sale. They’re polyester microfiber and lycra. Super slippery but they do have knee patches.

Ok then that’s not the problem. I got some silicon full seats. Great for jump saddle but when I tried to school dressage they killed my hips because I couldn’t slide my legs freely.

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@Finding_Serenity, where in the outside of your hip do you feel the pain? Across the illiac crest? More towards the front? Does it ever feel like your knee is suddenly going to give way? (Sort of a sharp pain on the outside/back of the knee)

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It’s below the crest. More like where everything joins together at the top of the thigh, the thick squishy muscle on the side. So far no pains in the knees, though I’m sure it is affecting them, when riding but it does pull on my lower back. The muscle contracts, but less pain and more nerve tingling than a cramp would have. Almost like a charlie horse but without the pulsing. It’s hard to describe but the ONLY way to get it to release is to cross my leg in front of me in the saddle and lean forward to stretch it out. I do have super tight muscles across the front of the hip, and down the inner thigh.

Even just sitting here in my chair I can cross my foot to the outside of my other thigh and it tingle stretches.

edits: clarity

Do you do any stretches before and after you ride,?

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Sorry thought you were asking about consistency. Yes I do stretches before and after usually.

Not really. I’ll have rides where I’ll stretch and it’ll happen, and and I’ll have rides where I don’t stretch and it’ll not happen. Plus it’s in the same saddle. It all seems to be on how much I’m using it.

Does anything snap or pop when you stretch it out? Like a deep thunk?

Muscle tightness like you describe isn’t really normal. It does speak to SOMEthing being amiss.

Nope. Just relaxes/releases, sometimes may be a little tender if I tried to tough it out. I’ve had chronically tight muscles since I was a kid. Never had the flexibility of my peers, and every single joint can/will pop. This includes my hips with hoola-hoop motions (this also pops my lower back).

Now, the opposite hip used to hitch (painfully catch on itself) and thunk while I was in college for a period of 6 months, but neither have done this since (almost 10 years). I was riding at the time in a saddle that was too big (put me into a chair seat), so I’ve been blaming that as it stopped once I changed saddles.

Also note: my big toes have always curled upwards, and I’ve had cases of plantar fasciitis in my feet. My mother is the same way.

update: So my mom wants me to talk to my doctors about my bursars to make sure I’m not developing bursitis (she’s had it and it’s apparently somewhat common with fibro). I’m not showing any stereotypical signs of inflammation there but we’ll see.

My brother (who is training to be a PT) and myself think it’s something with my SI joint. My tailbone has a tendency to feel like someone is squeezing it in their fist, and my lower back is always tight/sore. I also have severe tender spots on either side of my tailbone that I chalked up to Fibro. Brother gave me some stretches and they seem to be at least helping a little.

Good note: I rode in my trainer’s clinic with SALLY COUSINS today and it was PERFECT. We’re still dialing in the “in front of my leg does NOT mean take the long spot to a jump” but I couldn’t have asked for a better ride. Hips/back are aching and tight but the intermittent focused stretching is preventing things from locking up so far.

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Scribbler, I actually took the silicone full seats idea and picked up a pair of used Buckwild breeches… the full seat sticky made SUCH a difference. Love it! (I am still having trouble with my SI Joint/Hips and have an orthopedic appointment in October, but they really keep me from fighting against myself in the saddle!)


The full seat silicone stickies helped you? That’s great! For me the silicone seats in a dressage saddle were the problem but I love them in jump saddle. Go figure!

I would suggest maybe trying a biologically active b-vitamins and magnesium. I also tend to suffer from really tight hip flexors and pain in the lower back and the b-vitamins make a ton of difference.

I have the exact same issue as the OP and it happens when the twist is too narrow.