Tribulations of Fighting my Body

I have a hollow lower back. The scientific name for it is Lordosis, but to me that is a maniacal sounding term and so I’ll just avoid it for now.

I’ve known that it causes issues with achieving correct equitation for some time- but it wasn’t until recently that I have attempted to correct it after watching a professional sports therapist talk about the alignment of the pelvis and how achieving the right alignment helps us to breathe more effectively and lots of other benefits.

Somewhere between a forked seat and an upright seat

So I have been attempting to correct my lower back when riding, thinking about tucking my pelvis under and engaging my lower back muscles. It means that after every ride, my lower back aches immensely, but I am hoping to achieve the picture of full postural strength as seen in the below image:

Article found here

I’m still struggling to maintain my balance in this position, and no surprise- my body has been holding itself the wrong way for almost 3 decades! But it feels like slowly the muscle memory is starting to build. And I’m building a strong collection of gels and bars and salts to help alleviate the post-ride back pain.

Does anyone have a go-to pain relief for their back that they can recommend? And has anyone been through a similar struggle of retraining their body and been successful? Would love to hear your story!

21 thoughts on “Tribulations of Fighting my Body

  1. I would recommend doing some daily lower-back stretches, as well as adding hamstring stretches (your hamstrings attach on your pelvis, and tight hamstrings can often be the source of lower back pain). Applying moist heat to the area might also help alleviate the soreness, but I would definitely avoid ice; that may make things worse. If you have access to a gym – and even if you don’t – working on core strengthening (NOT crunches on the floor) will also improve muscle memory and strength in your lower back and help maintain proper body mechanics and posture. Speaking of, be sure to maintain correct posture out of the saddle as well, whether you’re sitting on the couch or at your desk and even while driving. PM me if you need suggestions for specific exercises!

    *sorry for the medical-sounding novel, PTA school tends to do that to ya! 😉

    • Another good one to stretch are the psoas (go from lower back through to front of thighs) and hip flexors. I’ve noticed that some people (my boyfriend, for example) can’t seem to open the hip angle which then results in a hollow lower back when they tilt their shoulders back. Instead of tipping the pelvis and having a wide hip angle, they retain a hip angle closer to 90* and just lift their shoulders which arches the back. From reading I believe the psoas, and definitely hip flexors, are involved in this.

  2. I just had a breakthrough with my seat in my last lesson. I have been re-learning my position as I switch from hunters to eventers, and figuring out how to sit up and not just perch there. I think I was in the “tucked seat + engaged leg” section of the diagram, where I was sitting back on my pockets, felt like I was leaning way back and working very hard. My trainer explained some things anatomically, then moved my position a bit and – BAM – suddenly it was way easier and in balance. I didn’t have to work so hard. Turns out I was tucking my pelvis too much and collapsing my lower back – sounds like the opposite problem you’re working on. But I think I had to get to that point of working too hard, trying to do too much, before I could have that lightbulb moment, because I had broken my habit of leaning forward first. Every bit is a step in the right direction!

    • That’s so interesting- so for you it was a matter of undoing the muscle memory, from what it sounds like. I don’t know if I can physically go ‘too far’ with tucking my pelvis, but I nonetheless am craving that breakthrough moment you mention!

  3. I have scoliosis. My hips are crooked, which means pretty much everything is crooked. It’s really close to physically impossible for me to arch my lower back. I have adapted, but I’ll never have the best posture.

    • What is that quote out there about dressage? Something like, “dressage is putting a crooked being on a crooked being and making them straight”
      That always resonated with me- it’s definitely not easy!

  4. I’ve made some big changes to my riding style in the past few months- turns out the hunter perch doesn’t work so well when a) the jumps go up a bit and b) my horse reeeeally likes some help from my seat to the fences. It has led to a LOT of muscle soreness and discombobulation as I retrain my posture and muscles, and I’ve recently started pouring money into a sports rehab place nearby to get my spine and muscles in proper athletic working order. Between my Back Wizard and lots of Advil, I’m slowly getting to a place where I can actually support this different posture.

  5. My back tends towards hollow like yours, and I’ve had to work super hard to correct it! I also have a BOT human back brace that is a lifesaver for pain management. You might want to work with a personal trainer or physical therapist for a little while to learn exercises that will strengthen the particular muscles you need – our bodies are all so different, and what worked for one person might not work for you!

    • I have definitely thought about a BOT back brace, but haven’t bit the bullet yet. And maybe a physical therapist is the way to go… per your’s and Olivia’s comments as well.

      • Having also gone through a lot of rehab to help support a degenerative disc, mild scoliosis, and just general lower back weakness, I don’t like to just offer up suggestions of exercises, etc. to people for their backs! It was so important for me, personally, to work with doctors and PT’s that knew what my individual condition was and could help me with my particular issues without causing more pain or making the problem worse. You only have one spine, it’s not something to mess around with, IMO!

  6. I’d recommend trying some therapeutic balls: Stick one under each seat bone and start at the walk. For me, it helps me flatten my lower back and also really feel when I am weighting one seat bone more than the other. I can also do sitting trot, rising trot, and canter, although it takes some practice. It really helps my seat if I ride with them for the first 5-10 minutes. Perhaps they will help you a little?

  7. Having broken every bone in my back except for 4, I am very practiced in the art of back pain. Heating pads are the biggest help for me. I keep one on the couch and sit with it constantly. Even in the summer. It helps me a lot! Also, as much as I often think Chiropractors are snake-oil salesmen, they can help. Sometimes. If you find a good one. But really, heating pads and bathes have gotten me through a lot.

  8. I have seen some absolutely amazing transformations with yoga! I cannot stress the importance of body awareness and releasing tensions when setting your intentions on changing your body. (Although not specifically for lower back, but I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene on YouTube)

  9. Retraining the body is hard! Take it slow and easy and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to fix it all in one day. Ice for day one, heat for subsequent days and seriously Back On Track for people is the shit.

  10. Its super hard. I have a physical therapist who also rides horses and it makes it so much easy. She gives me great exercises. My favorite is the yoga pose pigeon to open up the hip flexors. Tight hip flexors make everything more difficult

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