Assessing the sport-specific and functional characteristics of back pain in horse riders.

Isabeau Deckers, C. De Bruyne, N. A. Roussel, S. Truijen, P. Minguet, Victoria Lewis, Celeste Wilkins, E. Van Breda

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Currently, no standardised screening tools nor established interventions are available to address the characteristics of back pain (BP) specifically in horse riders. Therefore, the aim of this case-control study is to explore sport-specific and functional characteristics of BP in horse riders. 16 professional and 16 amateur riders (25±7 years) participated in two questionnaires (a sport-specific questionnaire and the Oswestry Disability Index questionnaire) and were examined via the physical functional movement screening (FMS) and Luomajoki’s motor control (MC) screening. The lifetime prevalence of BP was as high as 81%, and spinal discomfort in horse riders was mainly located in the lumbar spine. Professional riders revealed significantly higher prevalence of BP in the last month before assessment (P=0.014) than amateur riders. Compared to horse riders using dressage or multiple saddle types, show jumping riders (n=10) who only use jumping saddles (P=0.027) also revealed higher BP prevalence. Horse riders with lower scores on the FMS and MC screening, and thereby with more movement dysfunctions, were found to experience higher levels of pain (r=-0.582, P=0.001; r=-0.404, P=0.024, respectively) and disability caused by BP (r=-0.688; P<0.001; r=-0.474; P=0.006, respectively). Both physical screening tools are found to be clinically relevant enabling investigators to identify objective functional characteristics related to BP in horse riders. The high prevalence of BP in riders is a clinically important finding that should be explored further to elucidate the causes and subsequently guide occupational health in horse riders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021


  • horse riding
  • motor control
  • functional movement screen
  • back pain
  • sports performance


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