As riders of all levels have become increasingly aware of the benefits of core stability in all equestrian disciplines, the popularity of pilates has spread.

Pilates strengthens the abdominals and back muscles, which work to support the spine,” says Lindsay Wilcox-Reid, author of Pilates for Riders.

“A lot of rider back pain is due to postural and movement patterns. Improved rider alignment and enhanced flexibility and symmetry will help to prevent the horse’s movement being transferred through the body in an unhelpful way.

“Many riders don’t breathe properly, especially in competition, which can have an immobilising effect on the lower back and hips,” adds Lindsay.

“Through a combination of core strengthening and helping the rider to release the deep hip muscle through breathing, Pilates can enable horse and rider to move better.”

Lindsay recommends finding a Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) level three instructor with knowledge of equestrian disciplines, preferably for one-to-one tuition.

“The low abdominals and deep back muscles act like a Tubigrip around the lumbar spine,” she says. “If you can learn to strengthen these, you can throw away the back support.”

To read the full feature on back problems for riders see the current issue of H&H (10 May 2012)

Read more about rider fitness