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Seat to Four Feet: Ankle Pain

…relieving pressure on both you and your equine partner.”

One of the most common physical issues I hear from my riders as they begin working at higher levels of their equestrian adventure is “My ankles are hurting.”

In fact, I too have complained of such pain while trotting, cantering and even at the walk over the years. In search of a cure for my searing ankle pain, I turned to the biomechanics of the human body while riding. I found that this is a common problem stemming from incorrect use of the hips, thighs and knees. Riders are force-twisting their ankles into position, then pushing the heel down and applying a pinching pressure to the ankle’s important tendons and ligaments.

Here are two easy steps to reducing or eliminating your ankle pain, while increasing your balance and harmony with your horse:

  1. Begin by pulling your lower abdominals up, straitening the lower part of your back.
  2. Close your thighs, allowing the knee to make contact with the saddle, but without pinching your knees so hard that your lower leg extends any further than 3 inches from the side of your horse.

At this point, you should notice that your foot has naturally turned in, with your second toe coming close to lining up with the center of your knee cap, all without forcing your ankle to twist into alignment. You can then allow the lower leg to relax through the heel, allowing the heel to deepen and become the lowest point of the body. In this method, the heel is not forced down, allowing the ankle to work naturally as part of the human suspension system. This goes a long way towards relieving pressure on both you and your equine partner.

Note: This takes significant abdominal, rear, and thigh strength! This riding position is necessary to increase balance, strength and fluidity in your seat while riding, and must be developed over time. So, if you are sore, don’t give up! Make sure to stretch after riding, drink plenty of water and keep riding!

Lisa Wegner
SWR Director of Riding Programs

Happy ankles!

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