As I am getting older, I have noticed that I am having some lower back pain. I especially notice it when I jump. Not so much during the act of jumping as the aftereffects. I just feel so week in my core/lower back lately and it doesn’t help that my mare can be heavy on the forehand. Especially after the jump she leans and it’s hard for me to sit back up. I know I need to work on my own strength especially in my core/lower back. Anyone have any specific exercises they recommend or even a back brace?
My PT gave me a back brace, but she said that it was only good as a reminder to engage my core. In her opinion, they don’t really do anything else.
The best exercises that I have found for the lower back (and core, to support that back) is PILATES.
I just started going to yoga beginner classes and my low back, hip, SI pain is gone! I used to rely on a chiropractor to keep the pain in check, but I was really surprised that just plain yoga was helping significantly. My hips get super tight riding, and I’ve noticed they’re much looser.
There are some good yoga videos online on youtube, so you can try it for free. It took about 3 weeks (one class a week for an hour) before I was like huh, that doesn’t hurt anymore. After a month, I already feel stronger in my core, arms, and legs and my balance is so much better. I’ve been really happy with the noticeable changes. I am definitely going to continue and will probably go to some harder classes they have available.
The Dressage Rider Training course is excellent and takes you from “how to sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you” all the way to balancing while kneeling on an exercise ball. There are three workouts a week, yoga, core and strength.
Of course it only works if you actually do the exercises (says the person who has made it to week three twice now…) but from prior experience working one on one with a very expensive personal trainer, this program is really similar to what I was taught there, and Nicola will help with questions and modifications if needed.
It only opens up a couple of times a year, so if you can find beginner yoga locally I would start with that. (And I’d go in person so someone can help you with position.) Failing that, find a NASM certified personal trainer for at least a few sessions to make sure you are doing things correctly.
Weak lower backs usually come from not only doing work for that area, but weak glutes and weak hamstrings.
It’s also about the whole core, not just the lower back. The whole core is glutes to armpits, 360*.
How familiar are you with exercises in general? There are lots of ways to do things wrong and cause more imbalances, and even hurt yourself.
Deadlifts are a great exercise for all this but form is crucial. Slightly bent legs, hinge from the hips NOT the waist, which is the same movement we should always have in the saddle, no flexion in the waist. Flat back - not rounded not arched. Video yourself with your phone and check your form. hinge from the hips, which means butt goes back like you’re closing a door. Go as far as your hamstrings allow. The goal is not to see how low you can get your chest, as you’ll be tempted to round your back. Engage your glutes and your core. Your glutes should be doing most of the work, then the hammies, then your lower back. The beginning movement of this is the Good Morning - same movement but with your hands by your ears and elbows out OR, if even that’s too much weight up top, crossed over your chest. Get the form right before adding weights. When you go get to the weights, they should slide just 1" or so in front of your legs the whole way down, so headed towards the top of your shoelaces. But always stop when you feel the pull of your hamstrings,otherwise you’re mis-using the movement and potentially hurting yourself.
Supermans are another exercise that really targets the lower back. Engage your glutes, keep your feet on the floor, keep your chin tucked (ie don’t lift your head!) and raise your upper body as much as you can. It doesn’t matter if you can’t even get your chest off the floor because again, the goal isn’t to see how high you can go. It’s about engaging the lifting muscles as much as you can. Keepnig your arms by your side is the easiest because you’re not adding weight to your upper body. Out to the side is the next hardest, and in front of you (like Superman) is the hardest.
Yoga and Pilates of all sorts help the entire core, as well as everything else.
Working on my core/glutes has helped me out tremendously.
If you’re interested in more yoga, Google Yoga with Adriene. She is great and has oodles of free videos as well as a paid subscription. She puts together monthly calendars as well.
Funny you should mention glutes. I have Piriformis issues and my Chiro says I “literally have a tight ass” Probably from those muscles being weak. Never thought of that being the cause of a weak low back as well. 2 years ago, during COVID me and my father were doing some weight training at home, and I was in great shape. But in the pas 2 years I have slacked off tremendously in both exericise/walking and riding. I just started back with weight training and incorporate forearm planks, Bird Dogs, Superman… Sounds like I need to incorporate more yoga and stretching into my routine.
Orthopedic X-ray tech here,
Sorry you are going through this, we’ve all been there or known someone with back issues. The biggest thing you can do on your own is to keep in good shape, regular exercise. Also a consult with physical therapist who can analyze where your trouble is and what it’s impacting so that they can give you a guided home exercise program you can work on. Some exercises aren’t good for certain issues with the spine. My husband had super tight hamstrings that was affecting how his back felt, we didn’t realize it but PT picked up on it right away and gave him a detailed program to work on. You don’t have to go 2-3x a week unless you want to or have decent insurance and lower copay, you can do the exercises at home and follow up once a week or 2 weeks to check your progress and see if you can add or change some of the program depending on results. Hope that helps, good luck
I will second this post. I have multiple lumbar issues, and have done PT twice for them. Now have a collection of strength building and stretching exercises which I do pretty regularly at home. I NEVER appreciated the value of stretching! And I can do the kneel on the ball thing, not for long but at almost 70 I wasn’t sure it would happen at all…
But both times the PT people looked at the results of my MRI, and discussed the best exercises for my situation.