Knee Pain and Stirrups

I have Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome which is a rare connective disorder. I have always had trouble with my knees and ankles but recently it has gotten a lot worse in terms of pain/instability. I’m sure there are some other zebras in this group. I’m looking recommendations on stirrups that are safe, will hopefully help with pain/instability and won’t completely break the bank. On a side note, do wider stirrup leathers really help? I currently ride in Compositi stirrups but they aren’t helping much anymore.

I have knee and ankle issues, some that have had surgery, others that will require surgery eventually, as well as a hip that is in the socket at a slightly incorrect angle.

The stirrups I’ve found most helpful are the flexible ones, and the ones that sit facing forward before you put your feet in. I’ve not ridden in any that have both helpful items, like the MDC Ultimate stirrups, as I haven’t been willing to pony up $200 for stirrup irons yet. But I may have to whenever I get back to jumping.
As it is, so far the most helpful thing I’ve found is switching to dressage.

3 Likes

I have always had chronic knee pain growing up. And arthritis now. I find that the carbon stirrups w the wide foot bed don’t aggregate my knees. I like them better than the flexible/hinged ones.

1 Like

When I started back, the jointed stirrups helped. Then I found I was constantly “searching” for them. I went back to old heavy Korsteels with the fillis sandpaper tread and am a little happier.

I tried the Freejumps and did not like them. I have not tried other composites yet, not ruling it out, just not got around to it.

I do have the Total Saddle Fit ( waiting on some from Mundy) wide leathers and have found they help my knees more than stirrup choice. Worth a try , if you know where you can borrow a set to see?

1 Like

I have stability stirrup leathers (wide) and tech venice sloped irons. I also have TSF wide leathers coming in the mail (hopefully… ordered on black friday and the tracking number continues to just show “Shipment Received, Package Acceptance Pending”) because the stability leathers I initially got (Keiffer brand) are a touch too long and I’m using them a couple holes from the end. I find the combo of wide leathers and wide, sloped irons really help my knees. I wonder if you could find some of the pricier irons like the tech venice sloped second hand.

I will say, I’m a new rider and really love the irons/leathers combo but my instructor hates the irons. She, too, has knee and joint pain and the one time she rode with them she said the wide footbed was too annoying for her.

1 Like

I have ankle pain and find the only stirrups that help (having ridden in Royal Riders, Fillis Iron, Jointed etc.) are the Flex Ons. They help me feel very stable and secure - allowing me to step really down into my heel which historically I have had trouble with due to the pain in my ankles. They do have a safety version and I will caveat that they aren’t the cheapest solution but I find them worth every penny. You can also find them used occasionally

1 Like

The Herm Sprenger Bow Balance stirrups are good for knee pain that results from arthritis. They have a twisted eye so you’re not constantly straining against the stirrup to keep it in the right place. They also have a flexible footbed that means it’s a bit easier to keep the heel down/toes up. Expensive, but worth it, IMO.

1 Like

I have a lot of osteoarthritis and have had both knees replaced. I started out with the Herm Sprengers prior to the joint replacements about 15 years ago and noticed an immediate difference in the pain and the length of time I was able to ride. I upgraded to the MDC Ultimates a few years ago. I don’t know if the ability to pivot the stirrup to facing foreward affects the knee pain, BUT my right ankle was reassembled with a lot of extra metal, and as a consequence, I have trouble flexing my toe inward, which means I have a lot of trouble catching my off stirrup. This really concerned me, I was sure I’d be in a situation riding out where I’d need to catch the off stirrup quickly and wouldn’t be able to. That’s the problem that the MDCs solve for me.

Yes, they are crazy expensive. In on instance, the stirrups and leathers on my one saddle cost more than the (used) saddle itself.

But riding with less pain and safely is worth it. I don’t regret either purchase.

One caveat: What works for one person’s joint pain doesn’t work for another. Some people don’t like the jointed stirrups, some don’t find they make any difference. Borrow someone else’s for a while and see what you think, ideally, borrow a couple of differenct brands/types and see what you prefer before plunking down the cash.

2 Likes

My name is Martin Cohen, inventor of MDC Stirrups. Thanks to everyone who has recommended our patented stirrups. Please know that we have been very successful in reducing and eliminating knee pain due to our forward facing designs. More importantly, we guarantee the results. If our stirrups do not meet your needs in any way, they can be returned for a refund. Pain is no fun as you know. We highly recommend our wide tread models in either the flex or non-flex. I am happy to take a call to discuss your specific needs. Best regards, MDC

9 Likes

I landed on the Acavallo Alupro Safety Stirrup in all aluminum. I initially rode in a friend’s first, and then fell in love. I used to ride in the jointed stirrups, and was plagued with back pain, knee pain and ankle pain that would leave me on the verge of being unable to walk. Now I did have some time off from riding (which likely allowed my body to heal some unknown injuries), but coming back I noticed a huge difference riding in those same flexi stirrups vs the Acavallos. I immediately experienced back, knee and ankle pain after one ride in the jointed stirrups, and when I made the switch to the Acavallos, there was an automatic improvement. I also like that they are a wide bed and a safety stirrup as I feel more secure in the stirrup. Good luck in your search, these were definitely at the top end of my price range (tbh they were out of my price range), but they were 150% worth it for how often I ride in them and how long they will last - plus in the full aluminum they can pull off enough of a “traditional” vibe to not look too trendy in the hunters/equitations.

1 Like

So perhaps I’m a rarity but I find nothing to be worse for joint pain than jointed stirrups. How people find them comfortable is nuts to me. The best, IMO, are the MDC classic hunter stirrups. The wide tread makes more of a difference for joint pain than any sort of flex.

2 Likes

I have pretty significant arthritis in my knees and no padding on the balls of my feet anymore. The Herm Sprengers have allowed me to ride pretty much pain free. I use sandpaper stirrup pads.

1 Like

@Tha_Ridge,

I think it’s highly individual and dependent on your specific conformation, where your pain is and how you ride. IME, for every 4 or 5 people that love the jointed stirrups there is one that found them of no use or actually increased the joint pain.

I always recommend that someone borrow a pair and try them out before shelling out the $$$.

6 Likes

After my free jumps broke on me I bought a pair of these. My knees haven’t been so comfortable in years!

1 Like

Thanks Thread! I just spent more on a set of irons than I did on my first saddle.

@SIC- I dug the propaganda and bought a pair of MDC Sport Classic, wide foot tread, non jointed.

I have upgraded the saddle, which helped and combined with the TSF wide leathers the knee pain was reasonable. The jointed stirrups helped my knees a little more but I had a tendency to get too deep into them. I switched back to a fillis iron but I was always searching for the sweet spot and the ball of my foot would feel sore after a ride. My knees would twinge during and ache after a ride, doable but Voltaren was needed.

Tonight was my first ride with the MDC irons. No knee pain, not a twinge. I had them on 45 degrees. No soreness on the ball of foot either, the wider foot tread was very comfortable and secure. I foundcmy foot did wander to the outer edge and I could feel it on my smallest toe. I will try them on 90 degrees next time and see if that resolves. I got compliments from my coach on my 2 point tonight, that it was vastly improved. So all in all I have found the sweet spot, the MDC irons are indeed helpful.

So I reverse my earlier comment… irons can make a significant difference!

4 Likes

Thanks for this review! Looks like I’ll be buying a pair eventually

1 Like

Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. It looks like I’m looking at surgery to stabilize my patella soon.

I’m really really torn on which stirrups to order at this point. I wish that I could try them. I’m debating between MDCs and Acavallo safety stirrups.

2 Likes

100% stand behind a wider bed stirrup. My knee issues disappeared completely when switching my saddles to Jins and Royal Riders. There are so many options out there, stick to a wider foot bed and no stirrup with flex.

Tried out a pair of wide stirrup leathers today, and it was my first time riding in my jump saddle in like six months. Much less knee pain! I wonder if, with MDC stirrups added, I may get to start jumping again and be able to walk when I dismount?? :face_with_monocle: :laughing:

4 Likes

I am a believer! First I will try rotating the MDC’s to 90 degrees and if that goes well try some crossrails. I had no joint pain last week and today is the first day that the footing and my schedule have allowed for a ride. Cautiously excited!

3 Likes