Let’s talk about pain!

As one alert poster observed, I ride like my back hurts. Yep, I do, because it does. 24/7 to varying degrees. It hurts a lot when I get up in the morning. It hurts enough to make tears come to my eyes if I have to stand in one place for long periods of time. Riding actually helps loosen it up but I have some degree of back and neck pain 24/7 and it’s been like that for a long time. I can trace it to an accident at age 15 where I went ass-over-teakettle into an arena wall, but really, all the wear and tear since hasn’t helped any.

This is not unusual. Most of us realized around age 30 that our bodies no longer felt the way they used to, and if we’ve had some painful spills, that was even more true. By 40, the arthritis and age related stuff starts to set in as well. I have a bad back, a locking knee, and ankles that crack like a 16 year old OTTB’s when I walk stairs.

Most riders my age tell the same tales. Riding is not easy on the human body, particularly if you’ve ridden competitively or trained for a living. You can always identify the trainers at a horseshow – they are lamer than the oldest schoolie, hobbling from show ring to barn area with a perpetually hunched back. They all look like they need 2 grams of bute and possibly a shot of vodka to chase it. Now, add the fact that most of the professional horsepeople I know either have no health insurance, or no time to go to the doctor (I have the latter scenario) and – let’s be honest here – we horsepeople are infamous for hating the doctor. I freely admit to the statement “I go to the doctor – if they drag me there unconscious while I can’t protest.” I tend to treat my aches and pains with lots of Advil, applications of horse liniment and the occasional shot of vodka. That’s pretty typical. I have pointed out MANY times that if we only took as good care of ourselves and paid as much attention to rehabbing our injuries as we do if it’s our horse with the problem, we’d be in a lot better shape – but it seems like almost none of us do. (Why is that? Why is it so many horsewomen, for example, have their horse’s nutrition down to a science, yet can’t put themselves on the same strict plan and lose the extra weight or just plain eat more healthfully? I mean, hell, I’m guilty. The horses have supplements for whatever they need, but do I take a vitamin? Uh, no.)

So as we age, we’re not only dealing with increased fear issues, but most of us are dealing with pain issues. Yet we want to ride. None of us want to take the doctor’s advice and take up a kindler, gentler sport more suited to aging bodies. And hey, we all saw the video about the 102 year old cowgirl…if she can do it, why can’t we?
What’s your pain issue? Do you know why you have it (i.e. a specific accident) or is it just wear and tear related? Have you been good and received actual medical care for it, or are you self-medicating? Does it affect your riding? Are you doing things like yoga or pilates to help regain your lost flexibility and strengthen your muscles to help deal with it? Why are we all so bad about taking care of ourselves?
Published in: on August 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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