BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

by | Apr 11, 2019

 

SHOW NOTES

Back pain and horse riding.

Jim Warson knows horses and riding.

“I am a Comanche Indian … the way we do it in our culture is that the mothers teach the kids how to ride … my mom put me on horseback. I honestly don’t remember the first time I was ever on a horse”

He also understands back pain, both professionally;

“I was a neurosurgeon, in Colorado, for 20-some years, and we did an awful lot of back work”

and personally.

“I’ve had a lumbar laminectomy and a fusion and you know, I ride every day”

On many occasions, riders with back problems have approached Dr. Jim, having been advised to quit riding horses.

He does not agree that giving up a sport you love and, to many, a way of life is a good idea at all.

“I didn’t go through all this so I could sit on a rocking chair on my front porch”

In today’s episode, Dr. Jim Warson explains that the steps you can take to enjoy your riding pain-free.

 

Excerpts from the Show

Dr. Jim says that the vast majority of riders could return to the saddle with the right self-help measures.

We talk about:

 

The full transcript is at the bottom of this post

 

Today’s Guest

Lifelong horseman, neurosurgeon and author of

THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK: Overcome Chronic Soreness, Injury, and Aging,
and Stay in the Saddle for Years to Come

Dr. James Warson.

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery
Click the play button to listen to this episode now

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Back Strengthening Exercises

We cover the exercises shown in Jim’s book: THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK Overcome Chronic Soreness, Injury, and Aging, and Stay in the Saddle for Years to Come.

The point is to develop strength and flexibility in the back.

“The vast majority of the riders could be put back in the saddle with non operative therapy; specifically doing [these] exercises”

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end, self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

The Right Horse

Jim tells us that different breeds of horse have different characteristic gaits; also that just like the people who ride them, each individual animal has its own personal way of moving.

You will find that you naturally move in sync when you ride the right horse for you.

“If your body harmonics, or your spine harmonics, match those of the horse then you’ve got … something you can work with”

The Right Tack

“I’d see people at horse shows that would show up with an English saddle and they’d have so many blankets piled under ’em, it looked like they were sitting on top of a dictionary rather

than a saddle blanket. And all that does is move them off of the horses back; they lose contact and they develop role and pitch and yaw”

Thanks for Listening!

 

Do you get back pain in the saddle? Maybe you have back pain after horse riding?

Have you considered giving up riding?

Did you find a way to fix this problem?

Leave a comment below.

To help out the show, click a link to iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn:

  • Subscribe.
  • Leave an honest review.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Warson for joining me this time to talk about back pain and horse riding.

All the best,

Iain

 

 

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Full Transcript – BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

Jim Warson

Hello

Iain Barker

Hello Jim!

Jim Warson

Oh there we go, Iain. All right. Hey, we’re hooked up. Way to go.

Iain Barker

fantastic. I didn’t think it was going to happen with the confusion about the about the Skype contact info and but anyway here we are we’re talking brilliant.

Jim Warson

Yeah I apologize for this it appears to be that it was sort of one the Microsoft end of things we’ve been tried different computers today. We’ve been sort of burning a lot of oil to get this working and it looks like we came through. Anyhow glad to talk to you. I understand your your big in the back business in England.

Iain Barker

Yeah, I don’t know about big in the back business. But yes, I do have the Back Pain Liberation Podcast. That’s my baby. Welcome to the show. It’s about self help for back pain generally not specifically about about riding and the equestrian world, but I know this is a problem for a lot of people and I’m sure …I’ve read your book. It was a good read, very interesting even for a non-rider like my myself. And I’m certain that people who ride regularly and perhaps suffer from back pain will find what you got to say specifically interesting for them.

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, we’re, it is, you know, this is sort of piled up on me over a lot of years. I

First of all, there are very few if any doctors in America that have anything to do with horses, except treating the casualties of human horse contact in emergency rooms.

Iain Barker

Yeah, and that can be nasty can’t it?

Jim Warson

It can even be fatal. [Yeah]. But I’ve only run into one or two doctors that rode regularly. And they they didn’t… Really they weren’t into it.

I am a Comanche Indian and so my mother taught me to ride. That’s that’s the way we do it in our culture is that the mothers teach the kids how to ride; and my mom put me on horseback. I honestly don’t remember the first time I was ever on a horse.

Iain Barker

I got this from you your book. You said that horse people are born. Not made.

Jim Warson

Yeah. And that’s I think that’s absolutely true. There are people that just naturally gravitate to them and people that don’t and that’s okay. I mean, boating and motorcar things have to have their share of participation, but

Iain Barker

different strokes for different folks, as they say,

Jim Warson

Yeah. Well, anyhow, I was a neurosurgeon, in Colorado for 20, some years, and we did an awful lot of back work. And what happened was, I had a few people trickle in 20 years ago, and they said that their doctor had told them because they had a bad back and had back pain that they should quit riding horses. [Yeah] well,I mean, I’ve had a lumbar laminectomy and a fusion and you know, I ride every day, I’ve also had hip replacements and knee replacements I ride every day. It is possible if you know what you do and do it right.

Iain Barker

I think this is a common problem with people with back problems in all walks of life and all activities, they they get restricted. [Yeah]. And, and they’re told, you know, don’t pick up heavy objects or don’t train or don’t go dancing, or whatever it is that they want to do. And that’s a real problem, isn’t it?

Jim Warson

It is and, you know, I didn’t go through all this so I could sit on a rocking chair on my front porch. So I could, I could do the things that I want to do. And I’m sitting here at the office, we blocked off an hour. So just to talk to you. And, you know,

I I knew about riding horses, and there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. And so I started coaching patients and doing the correct exercises and teaching them those. And advising them about the type of horse to ride, the proper type of tack to wear, and

this sort of thing and proper exercises and when how to do them. And you know, I started having success. And horse people will talk an awful lot to each other. [Yeah],on the phone and at meetings and that sort of thing. Finally, this was kind of like a tide coming in. And when I finally stopped operative practice, I mean, the vast majority of my patients were people in the horse industry.

Iain Barker

Okay. Yeah, It was a lovely little picture you painted in, in your book of, I think there were three doctors or surgeons possibly working from the same office, there was the really good looking one. There was a yuppie type character. And then and your receptionist would kind of divvy up the patients, and the ones who turned up who didn’t fit into the, you know, film star, good looking category, or the the Porsche driving business, go getter character category. The ones who turned up in the dirty jeans, who looked like they’d just come straight from the, from the stable, they were sent in your direction.

Jim Warson

Yeah.

And that’s actually that actually was explained to me by the office staff as to how, how they divvied up a new patient that walked in and did not have a particular request for a particular individual. That’s, like, they kind of looked ’em over. And that’s that’s how it was.

Iain Barker

Who says that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?

Jim Warson

It really happened.

Iain Barker

Yeah. We all judge on appearances don’t we?

Jim Warson

Yeah. So I had, you know, because I had a wife and granddaughters that we’re actively showing horses, and we had a horse farm where we bred and trained and sold and exhibited Morgan horses.

I watched an awful lot of riding classes and horse show rings. And it became apparent to me what was going on in terms of the muscular and physical anatomy of the human body when it gets on a horse. And it was just fascinating to me, I was a guy that could sit there and I could watch equitation classes all day

Iain Barker

Equitation is a new words to me – I don’t know what it is.

Jim Warson

Well, equitation is, you know, usually there are girls 18 and under, well there are boys do it too. And what they’re doing is showing principles of riding. How they sit in the saddle and control, the horse. It’s a technical thing, rather than writing for pleasure. [Yeah]. And, you know,

it’s just another way to compete on a horse, but I saw people making terrific mistakes, [okay]. And I just kind of learned and I’d sort of develop a hypothesis and go out and test it. If it was good, I stayed with it. And if it wasn’t, well, I could reject it as quickly as looking for the hypothesis.

Iain Barker

I understand. So what are the mistakes that people make on horseback? In terms of back pain?

Jim Warson

Well, basically,

You’re doing an activity that is rarely found in other physical activities, for example, like horse riding, other than when you’re posting on a horse, is all isometric. But I saw people – well meaning but not well informed in physical therapy and physical medicine and rehabilitation, that sort of thing – exercising these people isometrically [sic], which does absolutely no good for them [okay]. And it was, you know, I, let’s face it, if you’re a physical trainer, and you have one of these riders, and you want to say, Okay, let’s do 25 repetitions of this exercise, and you sit there and you count 25. Then the next one comes in abd you count 25. Well, yeah,

if you’re training somebody to get on a horse, you say, ‘Okay, get up there and hold it at the midpoint while I count the 25. And don’t be swinging back and forth’. And, and it’s, it’s the ability to develop and hold a particular posture, or strength in a in a more or less static way is to how you ride a horse. And then I got into the muscles that contribute to that. And then I got into how do you rehabilitate those muscles? How do you test them? [Yeah]. And so it kind of went on from there. [Okay.]

Iain Barker

The first part of your book, it seemed to me was more about the theory about certain conditions of the back; what’s a normal back, what causes back pain and lots of different conditions. But then the second part, it’s called ‘back in the saddle, achieving, improving, and maintaining back health.’ And that is a lot more about exercise and stretches to develop strength and flexibility.

Jim Warson

Yeah,that’s, that’s absolutely right. And, for example, we don’t do anything in our lives, that mimics or is quite like riding a horse. And so you know, when you go out to the stable, you should do a little stretching, like you do for any, activity and you get on the horse. And the major thing with riding is when you get off that horse, you need to stretch also. And it’s because it’s an isometric activity. You need to stretch after you’re through, otherwise your back won’t really adjust to whatever is the next challenge it’s got to meet.

And I kind of took it from there, I had all things like proper selection of a horse, or certain breeds that are good for people. And there are certain breeds that are good for other people.

Iain Barker

Okay, so different horses have different gaits? I read some kind of move more horizontal horizontally, and others its more of an up and down. movement.

Jim Warson

Yeah. For example, in England, a lot of your horses are basically a thoroughbred or thoroughbred type horse. Well, that’s a that’s more of a horizontal gait, it’s not quite as hard on the individual. [Yeah], here in America, we have for example, quarter horses are like that. And Arabians are like that, of course you have Arabians there as well. But we have the gaited horses that have a lot of

impulsion and, and a lot of animation like Hackney saddlebreds, morgans, that sort of thing. And you have to be able to develop a sort of a harmonic with that horse, or that horse is going to be your back up, and you’re going to beat that horse this back up.

Iain Barker

Okay, yeah. It works both ways, doesn’t it? Of course, yeah, if there’s a lot of kind of up and down movement, then you can imagine that, you know, constantly being hit from underneath and that force being transmitted up through the spine, you can understand how that that would cause a lot of wear and tear effectively on the spine of the rider. But of course, you mentioned sort of Newtonian physics in the book, equal and opposite reactions, you’re going to be sort of pummeling that horse’s back as well aren’t you? If there’s constant impacts all the time.

Jim Warson

that’s right, you have to you have to be able to develop the harmonic, moving your back in concert with the movement for the horse, for example.

Here in America, if you go to an Arabian horse show, and they have a beautiful, sweeping, flowing gait, a lot of the trainers that train those horses tend to be very tall sort of willowy kind of people. [Yeah], when you’re when these people are riding this smooth, horizontally flowing gait is just made for the harmonics of how these people’s backs move. [Yeah]. And so they’re, they’re naturally attracted to that. And the more animated horses, you tend to see people who are smaller than the Arabian types.

They have more rapid more pronounced movements that they can get into harmony with the horse. And then you know, then I had to overcome a thing of tack I mean, I’d see people at horse shows that would show up with an English saddle and they’d have so many blankets piled under ’em, it looked like they were sitting on top of a dictionary rather

than a saddle blanket. And all that does is move them off of the horses back; they lose contact and they develop role and pitch and yaw. Nautical an aeronautical terms that I try to describe in the book and all these are accentuated the farther you get off.

Iain Barker

Yeah, that makes sense. You if you if you want to move as one with the horse, which is considerably heavier than you, you kind of have to bring your center of gravity so close to the horses center of gravity; you don’t want to be moved away from it. [Yeah], you’re going to be flung around more

Jim Warson

Well, if the horse is irritated, if the horse is upset, the horse just isn’t having any fun, then then then you’re on an easily frightened somewhat easily

angered thousand pound animal with the brain the size of a can of Campbell’s Soup. [Yeah],

It’s just not gonna be your day

Iain Barker

And when you mentioned the harmonic, so something that I read about in your book, which I, you know, I don’t know about horses, but this is certainly something which I’d never never come across before. Blind harmonics, it was towards the end of the book, but it kind of grabbed my attention, I made a note of it.

Blind harmonics. So if you’re bold enough, and accomplished enough to try it, you’ll discover the difference it makes in your muscle awareness. And in your communication with your horse. So this is where you, you train and ride your horse with your eyes shut.

Jim Warson

Well, yeah, you know, you’ve got the right horse, you’ve got the right tack, you’re doing the right thing. And you can tell when you are in, when you’re synchronized with the horse, and the horse’s normal up and down and forward, backward movements. Your particular back, which has presumably been exercised and that sort of thing, is able to accommodate and go right along with them.

You know, if if, if you watch, say a crew rowing on a river, say a four man crew, [yeah,] well, it’s it’s beautiful to watch all four of them. The oars are hitting the water at exactly the right time. And that boat and the people are in concert with the boat, and they’re in concert with the river, and they’re really moving. If you get one or two of them that aren’t quite synchronized with the others, then it it just doesn’t work.

Iain Barker

No, the oars are going to be hitting each other aren’t they?

Jim Warson

Well. Yeah. And the whole thing slows down. Nobody’s having any fun.

Iain Barker

Yeah. So you want to be in harmony with your horse to, I guess, so that you’re not kind of getting jarring collisions all the time?

Jim Warson

Yeah.

Iain Barker

So it’s about picking or riding the kind of horse that suits you.

And also doing the right discipline? I think you said,

Jim Warson

Yeah. I have, for example, the, at the center of the American Horse industry, is a middle aged lady, who is riding a quarter horse and Western tack

Nothing could be farther off the line from England than that. But , that’s the way it is over here. [Right] And

so you can focus things around that.

It works, you know, you have to know how a quarter Harris moves, you gotta know what muscles are going to exercise to be able to have that woman move in concert with the gait of a quarter horse, which is completely different from the gait of, say, a Hackney, a Saddlebred, that sort of thing. And the size of the horse is just as important as the gait. And you know, I have people go out and they’ll they’ll buy it just a beautiful God drop dead horse. But the horse’s gait is worthless for them.

Iain Barker

Huh. Yeah, this happens, doesn’t it in all kinds of things. People buy a car. That’s beautiful. And [yeah], it’s just not practical for their requirements. Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, I find that just as a quick test, you know, if you’re looking at five horses, and in day, that sort of thing, a quick test to tell if you your your harmonics match those of the horse is to get on the horse and do a sitting trot on it. [Ok]. And if your body harmonics or your spine harmonics, kind of match those of the horse, then you got something you can develop and something you can work with.

Iain Barker

Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah, totally. So we talked about the book by we haven’t mentioned the title yet. So it’s ‘the riders pain free back, overcome chronic soreness, injury and aging and stay in the saddle for years to come,’ which is coming out in paperback. [Yeah]. Next month, 16th of may on Amazon.

Jim Warson

Oh, yeah. And we had, you know, I do clinics and talk to people about things. Here’s the questions they ask, because, for example, joint replacements, hip replacements and knee replacements, they’re becoming a relatively common and and a greater percentage increasing percentage of the audiences. [Yeah], have had these things. And of course, they’re told, Oh, for God’s sake, don’t get on a horse. [Yeah]. Well, I myself have had spinal fusions, I had hip replacements, I’ve had knee replacements. I mean, I go through, I go through the metal detectors at the airport, lights up like a fourth of July.

Iain Barker

Do you find yourself face down on the floor?

Jim Warson

Almost.

Iain Barker

…being frisked for weapons

Jim Warson

you can

They can work with it, if they have the patience enough, take the time and do the exercises and that sort of thing. They can get in the saddle. And I mean, I’ve seen some. I’ve seen a lot of people in their 70s and 80s. That are really very confident riders. And they’re good riders., because they don’t take stupid chances. And they don’t do stupid things .

Iain Barker

I guess well, I remember reading in your book, it’s more question of…. They don’t want to kind of win races. They just want to ride for pleasure.

Jim Warson

Yeah, yeah.

You know, like, for example, I really enjoyed showing, not only riding but especially driving horses in harness, I thought that was a whole lot of fun. I was a whole new dimension that I could add in. But there comes a time when you say, okay, I’ve done it all let somebody else do it

It did it got so competitive that was interfering with the enjoyment, of being on a horse. And when when I was a kid, that was that was the deal, we’d hop on a horse, I’d a horse named Brownie, when I was a kid on my cousin’s Ranch, and take a sack lunch and my buddy Billy and I, and we’d just ride all over West Texas, [okay]. And it was just, it was just the enjoyment of riding the horses, and we’d see wild horses and we’dwatch him. And we just, you know,

Iain Barker

we just, it was just for the fun of it just for the joy of being out or being on a horse. And doing it just for pleasure. I was just going to read a little passage that I’ve made a note of, it’s in the beginning of the chapter with ‘the human back, joins with the horse,’ and you’ve written, ‘we ride horses, because they move us, they move us from place to place both physically and spiritually’, which I thought was really nice. ‘And because they move they have to follow the laws of motion.’ And then [yeah,] what we’ve covered to certain extent already two disparate objects,

which you want to kind of get moving moving harmonically, rather than

against each other.

Jim Warson

And you have to you have to do it and keep doing it just like skiing. You know, the first time you ever put on a pair of skis, and you see these guys coming down, the experts hill and their knees are locked together, and they’re just flowing [Yeah,] you’re not gonna get there that day.

Iain Barker

No, you certainly aren’t. You certainly aren’t, no.

Skiing I know a little bit more about. Yeah.

But yeah, it takes practice, like anything in life isn’t any kind of physical activity or maybe learning to play the piano or learning another language, whatever it might be. It takes time to master – a long time,

Jim Warson

you have to learn how to sense what’s going on with the horse. And that’s why, you know, I feel sorry for people that started riding in say their 20s or 30s. Because they will not have the instinctive brain body memory. Yeah. That goes with just having fun riding. It’s a whole lot of work for them, they get there. But its work. And, and it just because you ride every day, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get there. Some of the worst riders I ever saw were cowboys.

Iain Barker

Okay.

Jim Warson

There were, they were some of those guys were absolutely abysmal riders. And, you know, I, I tried to point out to him a few things. And the last thing they want, was some doctor to tell them, you know, if you did this, and you probably be doing a lot better. So I

Iain Barker

I can see that situation. Yeah, they’re not going to respond well to that. Are they?

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, you know,

telling a cowboy to do something is….

It’s kind of wasted effort

Iain Barker

Especially riding a horse, I would think Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah. And yet, you know, they come in at the end of the day, and they’re back is killing them. [Yeah.] And I’ll say, you know, it doesn’t have to be like that. And off they go. A lot of times they’ve come in the office, and I’d work them up. And I’d tell them what was wrong. What were their options to have it fixed. And they’d say ‘thanks doc’ and they’d hobble out of the office, never to be seen, never to come back again.

Iain Barker

Yeah. We’ve talked a lot about the way someone rides and all kinds of factors that are within their control. The horse they ride, the tack they use, the way they react, and try to achieve a harmony with the horse. And what when I was reading your book, as I say, the first section, a lot of it is is a bit more theory. And then also, you mentioned lots of conditions, things that are outside people’s control, for instance, scoliosis, or there’s another congenital condition, which I can’t pronounce

Jim Warson

Spondylolisthesis

Iain Barker

That’s the one, yeah, and other things. So I guess the question is, if you’re a rider, and you have back problems, how likely is it that it’s going to be something that you can kind of deal with yourself? And how likely is it that it’s something that you’re going to need medical treatment, you know, perhaps even something as extreme as surgery to to, to get over?

Jim Warson

Yeah, well the vast majority of the riders could be put back in the saddle with non operative therapy. And that meant specifically doing exercises, you’d have them do the first set and then when they had kind of filled out on those and move them on to the second set, which were built upon the first set, and and then by the time they got to the third set, they were ready to get back in the saddle and get with it.

People that needed operative therapy were the ones, by and large, who had disc ruptures we had guys that were steer wrestlers, and they’d jump off a perfectly sound horse onto the back of a 600 pound horned, enraged animal and throw it to the ground.

I did a meeting in Budapest, Hungary. It was an international my surgical meeting and I presented this paper and it was the neurosurgical consequences of rodeo participation. [Okay, that’s interesting]. And the lights came on and everybody’s eyes. The audience these were all Europeans. [Yeah], and their eyes were about as big around as a saucer. [Yeah], and they looked over at the Russian neurosurgeons who we’re kind of sitting as a group off to one side as if to say, ‘Man if you think you’re gonna whip anybody that does this for fun on a Saturday afternoon, you are sorely mistaken’

and sure enough, you know a couple months later on the Russians pulled out of Hungary and so I felt that that rodeo somehow helped win the Cold War!

Iain Barker

when was this?

Jim Warson

Oh, wow, this was back just before the Russians pulled out and I’m guessing that’s about 12-15 years ago.

And we were there there was an international meeting and then we were showing the Hungarian neurosurgeons some points about operative rehabilitation of chronic spine problems. So I was there for that

yeah, it’s

it helps if you if you get your kid

on the horse as early as possible. Soon as the can sit independent, safely. And then you lead them around on a lead line and kind of get they get used to the horses movements for like kind of fun. [Yeah]. And and then you take off from there. And when I go to the Indian reservations around America, you know, like the Sioux I was up at Pine Ridge one time and they had a kind of an all-day fiesta sort of thing those kids got on those horses in the morning and other than getting off you know occasionally to go to the bathroom they they were on those horses till dark

Iain Barker

yeah you’d want to do that if you’re a little kid wouldn’t it? Yeah.

Jim Warson

And you know they rode beautifully they just rode very natural

Iain Barker

I imagine they were probably relaxed.

Jim Warson

Yeah, they are. I was out with Eitan Beth Halachmy one day and we’re both riding along on our

Iain Barker

sorry who were you out with?

Jim Warson

Eitan Beth Halachmy he’s a clinician. And he developed a lot of the concepts that are used in cowboy dressage Western dressage. And so we’re riding along on this trail. And he keeps looking over at me then keeps riding and he looks over and ride.. look over. And finally he pulls up and says ‘you know, you ride just like an Indian’

Iain Barker

That was a compliment wasn’t it?

Jim Warson

Well, yeah. . Yeah. You’re absolutely correct there.

You know that the more you’re around them, the more you kind of sympathize with them. But it still takes, it takes a lot to keep up with this. Just like any other sport, you know, you. You play golf, and then the snow hits, and you wait for four or five months. And you go back out; that first set of games for a few weeks is gonna be awful.

You need to have some fairly continuous presence like this. And it’s no different from any other activity. .

Iain Barker

Yeah. You mentioned something.

apprehension, producing muscle tension, tightness and guarding, which is the body’s normal approach to self defense in an unfamiliar situation. I thought of it when you mentioned someone learning to ride for the first time, you know, in their 20s or 30s, if they’re struggling, maybe there is maybe it’s an element of that; they’re not relaxed, that they’re kind of tense.

Jim Warson

Yeah.It’s because they’re, they’re trying to keep their balance. They’ve never done anything like ride a horse before. Little or no stuff. The lead line stuff at the county fair does not count. They’re not riding on ’em they’re sitting on ’em. [Yeah]. And so it’s hard, they have to figure out how the horses movements go so that they can they can practice being in concert with the movements. And then if you do it long enough, you know, it’ll be where you just get on and you’re moving with them

Iain Barker

Yeah, fantastic.

Okay, so there are some stretches and strengthening exercises, you mentioned the back has to be, [yeah,] strong, flexible. So you have some stretching and strengthening exercises in the book. And so would it be that if someone were to buy the book and do these exercises, then that should be enough for them to, to ride without pain?

Jim Warson

By and large. I would say the majority of people probably could, especially if they got to it early enough, [right] The people that have you know, let’s say signs of an already ruptured disc. They’re walking around, and they have sciatic pain in a leg, and it gets worse if they cough or they sneeze and it gets worse if they sit and if they stand up from a seated position, that sort of thing. And they’re gonna possibly need some surgery first.

It sort of depends…where you are, and when you start.

Did you like the girl in the book that demonstrated the exercises?

Iain Barker

I’m sure she’s a very, very pleasant young lady. Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah,she was the daughter of one lady, the girlfriend of one of the ranch hands. And she did ballet. And she had very beautiful sort of flexible movements.

Iain Barker

I was thinking that, you know, because the first stretch exercise you’ve got is touch the toe and reach for the sky. [Yeah]. And there was this obviously, quite flexible, young lady just effortlessly.

reaching forward with her right, [yeah], hand touching her her left toe. But of course, if you’re suffering from, you know, a tight and painful lower back, then that might be something that you might want to be able to do, but it perhaps won’t, won’t work.

It wouldn’t look as good in a photograph shall we say?

Jim Warson

Well, you know, if your back is stiff and tight, it may take you days or weeks to loosen it up. [Yeah]. You don’t just … you’re sitting at a desk staring at a computer eight hours a day and then you get up outta that

Iain Barker

that’s exactly what I’m doing now.

Sitting at a desk, staring at a computer. We all do it don’t we? We do it a lot these days.

Jim Warson

Yeah, you know, you got to maintain some flexibility, or you can always obtain and flexibility, you know, they’ve, they’ve taken people in their 70s, 80s 90s.

And they found that they can become more flexible, and they can actually strengthen up doing basic strengthening exercises, so age is no…

no…

age is not an obstacle to that.

Iain Barker

Yeah, or maybe when you were kind of thinking of the word, you were going to say there. The word that popped into my mind was excuse because people make excuses.

Jim Warson

Yeah, that’s right. I avoided that.

Iain Barker

I know you did. Yeah.

I think we were both thinking the same thing. But yeah, I had to say it. Well it’s easy to make excuses, isn’t it? We all do it. Yeah.

But yeah. As you said, Okay.

Jim Warson

Anything else you wanted to know about the stuff?

Iain Barker

I think we’ve,

we’ve covered pretty much everything that I made notes on.

So

unless you’ve got something else you you think we’ve missed?

Jim Warson

I don’t think so. I kind of enjoyed this. [Yeah, me too] …the new book will be out in May. And it’s got chapters on joint replacements and a few little side things, some hand deals; how to hold the whip anatomically using the the human hand as an anatomical structure. What’s the correct way to hold a whip? Well, nobody ever taught me that I had to figure it out. And why little boys don’t like to ride horses very much and why they’re always a disappointment to mom.

Iain Barker

I saw that, yeah,

You can so imagine that, can’t you? You’ve got a mother who’s a sort of mad keen horsewoman? You know

and he’s just not interested. I didn’t go into it, because it’s not about bad backs. But it kind of it brought tears to my eyes a little bit as I was reading the chapter.

Reading reading the section why young boys don’t like you know, riding horses, even though their mom wants them to. So yeah. I think we’ll leave that to the listeners imagination as to what was going on?

Jim Warson

Yeah but I’ve seen it. I’ve seen mothers literally driven to tears over that. [Yeah]. And you know, they feel like failures and the answer is not their fault.

Iain Barker

Mothers often feel like failures don’t they?. [Yeah, yeah]. Even when it’s not their fault, and they’re actually doing a great job.

Jim Warson

Yeah. Okay, well, I’ll get back to real life here trying to stamp out a few diseases and

Iain Barker

Fantastic! That sounds like important work.

I’m glad we made contact. [Yeah], it’s been interesting talking to you.

Jim Warson

My pleasure is all mine.

Iain Barker

And we’ll have, I’ll have your episode out, I think, next week, so [Okay]. Yeah,

Jim Warson

Thank you very much for your time.

Iain Barker

Pleasure talking to you

Jim Warson

Bye now.

Iain Barker

All the best. Bye bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

by | Apr 11, 2019

 

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Back pain and horse riding.

Jim Warson knows horses and riding.

“I am a Comanche Indian … the way we do it in our culture is that the mothers teach the kids how to ride … my mom put me on horseback. I honestly don’t remember the first time I was ever on a horse”

He also understands back pain, both professionally;

“I was a neurosurgeon, in Colorado, for 20-some years, and we did an awful lot of back work”

and personally.

“I’ve had a lumbar laminectomy and a fusion and you know, I ride every day”

On many occasions, riders with back problems have approached Dr. Jim, having been advised to quit riding horses.

He does not agree that giving up a sport you love and, to many, a way of life is a good idea at all.

“I didn’t go through all this so I could sit on a rocking chair on my front porch”

In today’s episode, Dr. Jim Warson explains that the steps you can take to enjoy your riding pain-free.

 

Excerpts from the Show

Dr. Jim says that the vast majority of riders could return to the saddle with the right self-help measures.

We talk about:

 

The full transcript is at the bottom of this post

 

Today’s Guest

Lifelong horseman, neurosurgeon and author of

THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK: Overcome Chronic Soreness, Injury, and Aging,
and Stay in the Saddle for Years to Come

Dr. James Warson.

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery
Click the play button to listen to this episode now

Back Strengthening Exercises

We cover the exercises shown in Jim’s book: THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK Overcome Chronic Soreness, Injury, and Aging, and Stay in the Saddle for Years to Come.

The point is to develop strength and flexibility in the back.

“The vast majority of the riders could be put back in the saddle with non operative therapy; specifically doing [these] exercises”

The Right Horse

Jim tells us that different breeds of horse have different characteristic gaits; also that just like the people who ride them, each individual animal has its own personal way of moving.

You will find that you naturally move in sync when you ride the right horse for you.

“If your body harmonics, or your spine harmonics, match those of the horse then you’ve got … something you can work with”

The Right Tack

“I’d see people at horse shows that would show up with an English saddle and they’d have so many blankets piled under ’em, it looked like they were sitting on top of a dictionary rather

than a saddle blanket. And all that does is move them off of the horses back; they lose contact and they develop role and pitch and yaw”

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

Thanks for Listening!

 

Do you get back pain in the saddle? Maybe you have back pain after horse riding?

Have you considered giving up riding?

Did you find a way to fix this problem?

Leave a comment below.

To help out the show, click a link to iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn:

  • Subscribe.
  • Leave an honest review.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Warson for joining me this time to talk about back pain and horse riding.

All the best,

Iain

 

 

 

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Full Transcript – BPL23: Back Pain and Horse Riding

Jim Warson

Hello

Iain Barker

Hello Jim!

Jim Warson

Oh there we go, Iain. All right. Hey, we’re hooked up. Way to go.

Iain Barker

fantastic. I didn’t think it was going to happen with the confusion about the about the Skype contact info and but anyway here we are we’re talking brilliant.

Jim Warson

Yeah I apologize for this it appears to be that it was sort of one the Microsoft end of things we’ve been tried different computers today. We’ve been sort of burning a lot of oil to get this working and it looks like we came through. Anyhow glad to talk to you. I understand your your big in the back business in England.

Iain Barker

Yeah, I don’t know about big in the back business. But yes, I do have the Back Pain Liberation Podcast. That’s my baby. Welcome to the show. It’s about self help for back pain generally not specifically about about riding and the equestrian world, but I know this is a problem for a lot of people and I’m sure …I’ve read your book. It was a good read, very interesting even for a non-rider like my myself. And I’m certain that people who ride regularly and perhaps suffer from back pain will find what you got to say specifically interesting for them.

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, we’re, it is, you know, this is sort of piled up on me over a lot of years. I

First of all, there are very few if any doctors in America that have anything to do with horses, except treating the casualties of human horse contact in emergency rooms.

Iain Barker

Yeah, and that can be nasty can’t it?

Jim Warson

It can even be fatal. [Yeah]. But I’ve only run into one or two doctors that rode regularly. And they they didn’t… Really they weren’t into it.

I am a Comanche Indian and so my mother taught me to ride. That’s that’s the way we do it in our culture is that the mothers teach the kids how to ride; and my mom put me on horseback. I honestly don’t remember the first time I was ever on a horse.

Iain Barker

I got this from you your book. You said that horse people are born. Not made.

Jim Warson

Yeah. And that’s I think that’s absolutely true. There are people that just naturally gravitate to them and people that don’t and that’s okay. I mean, boating and motorcar things have to have their share of participation, but

Iain Barker

different strokes for different folks, as they say,

Jim Warson

Yeah. Well, anyhow, I was a neurosurgeon, in Colorado for 20, some years, and we did an awful lot of back work. And what happened was, I had a few people trickle in 20 years ago, and they said that their doctor had told them because they had a bad back and had back pain that they should quit riding horses. [Yeah] well,I mean, I’ve had a lumbar laminectomy and a fusion and you know, I ride every day, I’ve also had hip replacements and knee replacements I ride every day. It is possible if you know what you do and do it right.

Iain Barker

I think this is a common problem with people with back problems in all walks of life and all activities, they they get restricted. [Yeah]. And, and they’re told, you know, don’t pick up heavy objects or don’t train or don’t go dancing, or whatever it is that they want to do. And that’s a real problem, isn’t it?

Jim Warson

It is and, you know, I didn’t go through all this so I could sit on a rocking chair on my front porch. So I could, I could do the things that I want to do. And I’m sitting here at the office, we blocked off an hour. So just to talk to you. And, you know,

I I knew about riding horses, and there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. And so I started coaching patients and doing the correct exercises and teaching them those. And advising them about the type of horse to ride, the proper type of tack to wear, and

this sort of thing and proper exercises and when how to do them. And you know, I started having success. And horse people will talk an awful lot to each other. [Yeah],on the phone and at meetings and that sort of thing. Finally, this was kind of like a tide coming in. And when I finally stopped operative practice, I mean, the vast majority of my patients were people in the horse industry.

Iain Barker

Okay. Yeah, It was a lovely little picture you painted in, in your book of, I think there were three doctors or surgeons possibly working from the same office, there was the really good looking one. There was a yuppie type character. And then and your receptionist would kind of divvy up the patients, and the ones who turned up who didn’t fit into the, you know, film star, good looking category, or the the Porsche driving business, go getter character category. The ones who turned up in the dirty jeans, who looked like they’d just come straight from the, from the stable, they were sent in your direction.

Jim Warson

Yeah.

And that’s actually that actually was explained to me by the office staff as to how, how they divvied up a new patient that walked in and did not have a particular request for a particular individual. That’s, like, they kind of looked ’em over. And that’s that’s how it was.

Iain Barker

Who says that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?

Jim Warson

It really happened.

Iain Barker

Yeah. We all judge on appearances don’t we?

Jim Warson

Yeah. So I had, you know, because I had a wife and granddaughters that we’re actively showing horses, and we had a horse farm where we bred and trained and sold and exhibited Morgan horses.

I watched an awful lot of riding classes and horse show rings. And it became apparent to me what was going on in terms of the muscular and physical anatomy of the human body when it gets on a horse. And it was just fascinating to me, I was a guy that could sit there and I could watch equitation classes all day

Iain Barker

Equitation is a new words to me – I don’t know what it is.

Jim Warson

Well, equitation is, you know, usually there are girls 18 and under, well there are boys do it too. And what they’re doing is showing principles of riding. How they sit in the saddle and control, the horse. It’s a technical thing, rather than writing for pleasure. [Yeah]. And, you know,

it’s just another way to compete on a horse, but I saw people making terrific mistakes, [okay]. And I just kind of learned and I’d sort of develop a hypothesis and go out and test it. If it was good, I stayed with it. And if it wasn’t, well, I could reject it as quickly as looking for the hypothesis.

Iain Barker

I understand. So what are the mistakes that people make on horseback? In terms of back pain?

Jim Warson

Well, basically,

You’re doing an activity that is rarely found in other physical activities, for example, like horse riding, other than when you’re posting on a horse, is all isometric. But I saw people – well meaning but not well informed in physical therapy and physical medicine and rehabilitation, that sort of thing – exercising these people isometrically [sic], which does absolutely no good for them [okay]. And it was, you know, I, let’s face it, if you’re a physical trainer, and you have one of these riders, and you want to say, Okay, let’s do 25 repetitions of this exercise, and you sit there and you count 25. Then the next one comes in abd you count 25. Well, yeah,

if you’re training somebody to get on a horse, you say, ‘Okay, get up there and hold it at the midpoint while I count the 25. And don’t be swinging back and forth’. And, and it’s, it’s the ability to develop and hold a particular posture, or strength in a in a more or less static way is to how you ride a horse. And then I got into the muscles that contribute to that. And then I got into how do you rehabilitate those muscles? How do you test them? [Yeah]. And so it kind of went on from there. [Okay.]

Iain Barker

The first part of your book, it seemed to me was more about the theory about certain conditions of the back; what’s a normal back, what causes back pain and lots of different conditions. But then the second part, it’s called ‘back in the saddle, achieving, improving, and maintaining back health.’ And that is a lot more about exercise and stretches to develop strength and flexibility.

Jim Warson

Yeah,that’s, that’s absolutely right. And, for example, we don’t do anything in our lives, that mimics or is quite like riding a horse. And so you know, when you go out to the stable, you should do a little stretching, like you do for any, activity and you get on the horse. And the major thing with riding is when you get off that horse, you need to stretch also. And it’s because it’s an isometric activity. You need to stretch after you’re through, otherwise your back won’t really adjust to whatever is the next challenge it’s got to meet.

And I kind of took it from there, I had all things like proper selection of a horse, or certain breeds that are good for people. And there are certain breeds that are good for other people.

Iain Barker

Okay, so different horses have different gaits? I read some kind of move more horizontal horizontally, and others its more of an up and down. movement.

Jim Warson

Yeah. For example, in England, a lot of your horses are basically a thoroughbred or thoroughbred type horse. Well, that’s a that’s more of a horizontal gait, it’s not quite as hard on the individual. [Yeah], here in America, we have for example, quarter horses are like that. And Arabians are like that, of course you have Arabians there as well. But we have the gaited horses that have a lot of

impulsion and, and a lot of animation like Hackney saddlebreds, morgans, that sort of thing. And you have to be able to develop a sort of a harmonic with that horse, or that horse is going to be your back up, and you’re going to beat that horse this back up.

Iain Barker

Okay, yeah. It works both ways, doesn’t it? Of course, yeah, if there’s a lot of kind of up and down movement, then you can imagine that, you know, constantly being hit from underneath and that force being transmitted up through the spine, you can understand how that that would cause a lot of wear and tear effectively on the spine of the rider. But of course, you mentioned sort of Newtonian physics in the book, equal and opposite reactions, you’re going to be sort of pummeling that horse’s back as well aren’t you? If there’s constant impacts all the time.

Jim Warson

that’s right, you have to you have to be able to develop the harmonic, moving your back in concert with the movement for the horse, for example.

Here in America, if you go to an Arabian horse show, and they have a beautiful, sweeping, flowing gait, a lot of the trainers that train those horses tend to be very tall sort of willowy kind of people. [Yeah], when you’re when these people are riding this smooth, horizontally flowing gait is just made for the harmonics of how these people’s backs move. [Yeah]. And so they’re, they’re naturally attracted to that. And the more animated horses, you tend to see people who are smaller than the Arabian types.

They have more rapid more pronounced movements that they can get into harmony with the horse. And then you know, then I had to overcome a thing of tack I mean, I’d see people at horse shows that would show up with an English saddle and they’d have so many blankets piled under ’em, it looked like they were sitting on top of a dictionary rather

than a saddle blanket. And all that does is move them off of the horses back; they lose contact and they develop role and pitch and yaw. Nautical an aeronautical terms that I try to describe in the book and all these are accentuated the farther you get off.

Iain Barker

Yeah, that makes sense. You if you if you want to move as one with the horse, which is considerably heavier than you, you kind of have to bring your center of gravity so close to the horses center of gravity; you don’t want to be moved away from it. [Yeah], you’re going to be flung around more

Jim Warson

Well, if the horse is irritated, if the horse is upset, the horse just isn’t having any fun, then then then you’re on an easily frightened somewhat easily

angered thousand pound animal with the brain the size of a can of Campbell’s Soup. [Yeah],

It’s just not gonna be your day

Iain Barker

And when you mentioned the harmonic, so something that I read about in your book, which I, you know, I don’t know about horses, but this is certainly something which I’d never never come across before. Blind harmonics, it was towards the end of the book, but it kind of grabbed my attention, I made a note of it.

Blind harmonics. So if you’re bold enough, and accomplished enough to try it, you’ll discover the difference it makes in your muscle awareness. And in your communication with your horse. So this is where you, you train and ride your horse with your eyes shut.

Jim Warson

Well, yeah, you know, you’ve got the right horse, you’ve got the right tack, you’re doing the right thing. And you can tell when you are in, when you’re synchronized with the horse, and the horse’s normal up and down and forward, backward movements. Your particular back, which has presumably been exercised and that sort of thing, is able to accommodate and go right along with them.

You know, if if, if you watch, say a crew rowing on a river, say a four man crew, [yeah,] well, it’s it’s beautiful to watch all four of them. The oars are hitting the water at exactly the right time. And that boat and the people are in concert with the boat, and they’re in concert with the river, and they’re really moving. If you get one or two of them that aren’t quite synchronized with the others, then it it just doesn’t work.

Iain Barker

No, the oars are going to be hitting each other aren’t they?

Jim Warson

Well. Yeah. And the whole thing slows down. Nobody’s having any fun.

Iain Barker

Yeah. So you want to be in harmony with your horse to, I guess, so that you’re not kind of getting jarring collisions all the time?

Jim Warson

Yeah.

Iain Barker

So it’s about picking or riding the kind of horse that suits you.

And also doing the right discipline? I think you said,

Jim Warson

Yeah. I have, for example, the, at the center of the American Horse industry, is a middle aged lady, who is riding a quarter horse and Western tack

Nothing could be farther off the line from England than that. But , that’s the way it is over here. [Right] And

so you can focus things around that.

It works, you know, you have to know how a quarter Harris moves, you gotta know what muscles are going to exercise to be able to have that woman move in concert with the gait of a quarter horse, which is completely different from the gait of, say, a Hackney, a Saddlebred, that sort of thing. And the size of the horse is just as important as the gait. And you know, I have people go out and they’ll they’ll buy it just a beautiful God drop dead horse. But the horse’s gait is worthless for them.

Iain Barker

Huh. Yeah, this happens, doesn’t it in all kinds of things. People buy a car. That’s beautiful. And [yeah], it’s just not practical for their requirements. Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, I find that just as a quick test, you know, if you’re looking at five horses, and in day, that sort of thing, a quick test to tell if you your your harmonics match those of the horse is to get on the horse and do a sitting trot on it. [Ok]. And if your body harmonics or your spine harmonics, kind of match those of the horse, then you got something you can develop and something you can work with.

Iain Barker

Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah, totally. So we talked about the book by we haven’t mentioned the title yet. So it’s ‘the riders pain free back, overcome chronic soreness, injury and aging and stay in the saddle for years to come,’ which is coming out in paperback. [Yeah]. Next month, 16th of may on Amazon.

Jim Warson

Oh, yeah. And we had, you know, I do clinics and talk to people about things. Here’s the questions they ask, because, for example, joint replacements, hip replacements and knee replacements, they’re becoming a relatively common and and a greater percentage increasing percentage of the audiences. [Yeah], have had these things. And of course, they’re told, Oh, for God’s sake, don’t get on a horse. [Yeah]. Well, I myself have had spinal fusions, I had hip replacements, I’ve had knee replacements. I mean, I go through, I go through the metal detectors at the airport, lights up like a fourth of July.

Iain Barker

Do you find yourself face down on the floor?

Jim Warson

Almost.

Iain Barker

…being frisked for weapons

Jim Warson

you can

They can work with it, if they have the patience enough, take the time and do the exercises and that sort of thing. They can get in the saddle. And I mean, I’ve seen some. I’ve seen a lot of people in their 70s and 80s. That are really very confident riders. And they’re good riders., because they don’t take stupid chances. And they don’t do stupid things .

Iain Barker

I guess well, I remember reading in your book, it’s more question of…. They don’t want to kind of win races. They just want to ride for pleasure.

Jim Warson

Yeah, yeah.

You know, like, for example, I really enjoyed showing, not only riding but especially driving horses in harness, I thought that was a whole lot of fun. I was a whole new dimension that I could add in. But there comes a time when you say, okay, I’ve done it all let somebody else do it

It did it got so competitive that was interfering with the enjoyment, of being on a horse. And when when I was a kid, that was that was the deal, we’d hop on a horse, I’d a horse named Brownie, when I was a kid on my cousin’s Ranch, and take a sack lunch and my buddy Billy and I, and we’d just ride all over West Texas, [okay]. And it was just, it was just the enjoyment of riding the horses, and we’d see wild horses and we’dwatch him. And we just, you know,

Iain Barker

we just, it was just for the fun of it just for the joy of being out or being on a horse. And doing it just for pleasure. I was just going to read a little passage that I’ve made a note of, it’s in the beginning of the chapter with ‘the human back, joins with the horse,’ and you’ve written, ‘we ride horses, because they move us, they move us from place to place both physically and spiritually’, which I thought was really nice. ‘And because they move they have to follow the laws of motion.’ And then [yeah,] what we’ve covered to certain extent already two disparate objects,

which you want to kind of get moving moving harmonically, rather than

against each other.

Jim Warson

And you have to you have to do it and keep doing it just like skiing. You know, the first time you ever put on a pair of skis, and you see these guys coming down, the experts hill and their knees are locked together, and they’re just flowing [Yeah,] you’re not gonna get there that day.

Iain Barker

No, you certainly aren’t. You certainly aren’t, no.

Skiing I know a little bit more about. Yeah.

But yeah, it takes practice, like anything in life isn’t any kind of physical activity or maybe learning to play the piano or learning another language, whatever it might be. It takes time to master – a long time,

Jim Warson

you have to learn how to sense what’s going on with the horse. And that’s why, you know, I feel sorry for people that started riding in say their 20s or 30s. Because they will not have the instinctive brain body memory. Yeah. That goes with just having fun riding. It’s a whole lot of work for them, they get there. But its work. And, and it just because you ride every day, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get there. Some of the worst riders I ever saw were cowboys.

Iain Barker

Okay.

Jim Warson

There were, they were some of those guys were absolutely abysmal riders. And, you know, I, I tried to point out to him a few things. And the last thing they want, was some doctor to tell them, you know, if you did this, and you probably be doing a lot better. So I

Iain Barker

I can see that situation. Yeah, they’re not going to respond well to that. Are they?

Jim Warson

Yeah, well, you know,

telling a cowboy to do something is….

It’s kind of wasted effort

Iain Barker

Especially riding a horse, I would think Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah. And yet, you know, they come in at the end of the day, and they’re back is killing them. [Yeah.] And I’ll say, you know, it doesn’t have to be like that. And off they go. A lot of times they’ve come in the office, and I’d work them up. And I’d tell them what was wrong. What were their options to have it fixed. And they’d say ‘thanks doc’ and they’d hobble out of the office, never to be seen, never to come back again.

Iain Barker

Yeah. We’ve talked a lot about the way someone rides and all kinds of factors that are within their control. The horse they ride, the tack they use, the way they react, and try to achieve a harmony with the horse. And what when I was reading your book, as I say, the first section, a lot of it is is a bit more theory. And then also, you mentioned lots of conditions, things that are outside people’s control, for instance, scoliosis, or there’s another congenital condition, which I can’t pronounce

Jim Warson

Spondylolisthesis

Iain Barker

That’s the one, yeah, and other things. So I guess the question is, if you’re a rider, and you have back problems, how likely is it that it’s going to be something that you can kind of deal with yourself? And how likely is it that it’s something that you’re going to need medical treatment, you know, perhaps even something as extreme as surgery to to, to get over?

Jim Warson

Yeah, well the vast majority of the riders could be put back in the saddle with non operative therapy. And that meant specifically doing exercises, you’d have them do the first set and then when they had kind of filled out on those and move them on to the second set, which were built upon the first set, and and then by the time they got to the third set, they were ready to get back in the saddle and get with it.

People that needed operative therapy were the ones, by and large, who had disc ruptures we had guys that were steer wrestlers, and they’d jump off a perfectly sound horse onto the back of a 600 pound horned, enraged animal and throw it to the ground.

I did a meeting in Budapest, Hungary. It was an international my surgical meeting and I presented this paper and it was the neurosurgical consequences of rodeo participation. [Okay, that’s interesting]. And the lights came on and everybody’s eyes. The audience these were all Europeans. [Yeah], and their eyes were about as big around as a saucer. [Yeah], and they looked over at the Russian neurosurgeons who we’re kind of sitting as a group off to one side as if to say, ‘Man if you think you’re gonna whip anybody that does this for fun on a Saturday afternoon, you are sorely mistaken’

and sure enough, you know a couple months later on the Russians pulled out of Hungary and so I felt that that rodeo somehow helped win the Cold War!

Iain Barker

when was this?

Jim Warson

Oh, wow, this was back just before the Russians pulled out and I’m guessing that’s about 12-15 years ago.

And we were there there was an international meeting and then we were showing the Hungarian neurosurgeons some points about operative rehabilitation of chronic spine problems. So I was there for that

yeah, it’s

it helps if you if you get your kid

on the horse as early as possible. Soon as the can sit independent, safely. And then you lead them around on a lead line and kind of get they get used to the horses movements for like kind of fun. [Yeah]. And and then you take off from there. And when I go to the Indian reservations around America, you know, like the Sioux I was up at Pine Ridge one time and they had a kind of an all-day fiesta sort of thing those kids got on those horses in the morning and other than getting off you know occasionally to go to the bathroom they they were on those horses till dark

Iain Barker

yeah you’d want to do that if you’re a little kid wouldn’t it? Yeah.

Jim Warson

And you know they rode beautifully they just rode very natural

Iain Barker

I imagine they were probably relaxed.

Jim Warson

Yeah, they are. I was out with Eitan Beth Halachmy one day and we’re both riding along on our

Iain Barker

sorry who were you out with?

Jim Warson

Eitan Beth Halachmy he’s a clinician. And he developed a lot of the concepts that are used in cowboy dressage Western dressage. And so we’re riding along on this trail. And he keeps looking over at me then keeps riding and he looks over and ride.. look over. And finally he pulls up and says ‘you know, you ride just like an Indian’

Iain Barker

That was a compliment wasn’t it?

Jim Warson

Well, yeah. . Yeah. You’re absolutely correct there.

You know that the more you’re around them, the more you kind of sympathize with them. But it still takes, it takes a lot to keep up with this. Just like any other sport, you know, you. You play golf, and then the snow hits, and you wait for four or five months. And you go back out; that first set of games for a few weeks is gonna be awful.

You need to have some fairly continuous presence like this. And it’s no different from any other activity. .

Iain Barker

Yeah. You mentioned something.

apprehension, producing muscle tension, tightness and guarding, which is the body’s normal approach to self defense in an unfamiliar situation. I thought of it when you mentioned someone learning to ride for the first time, you know, in their 20s or 30s, if they’re struggling, maybe there is maybe it’s an element of that; they’re not relaxed, that they’re kind of tense.

Jim Warson

Yeah.It’s because they’re, they’re trying to keep their balance. They’ve never done anything like ride a horse before. Little or no stuff. The lead line stuff at the county fair does not count. They’re not riding on ’em they’re sitting on ’em. [Yeah]. And so it’s hard, they have to figure out how the horses movements go so that they can they can practice being in concert with the movements. And then if you do it long enough, you know, it’ll be where you just get on and you’re moving with them

Iain Barker

Yeah, fantastic.

Okay, so there are some stretches and strengthening exercises, you mentioned the back has to be, [yeah,] strong, flexible. So you have some stretching and strengthening exercises in the book. And so would it be that if someone were to buy the book and do these exercises, then that should be enough for them to, to ride without pain?

Jim Warson

By and large. I would say the majority of people probably could, especially if they got to it early enough, [right] The people that have you know, let’s say signs of an already ruptured disc. They’re walking around, and they have sciatic pain in a leg, and it gets worse if they cough or they sneeze and it gets worse if they sit and if they stand up from a seated position, that sort of thing. And they’re gonna possibly need some surgery first.

It sort of depends…where you are, and when you start.

Did you like the girl in the book that demonstrated the exercises?

Iain Barker

I’m sure she’s a very, very pleasant young lady. Yeah.

Jim Warson

Yeah,she was the daughter of one lady, the girlfriend of one of the ranch hands. And she did ballet. And she had very beautiful sort of flexible movements.

Iain Barker

I was thinking that, you know, because the first stretch exercise you’ve got is touch the toe and reach for the sky. [Yeah]. And there was this obviously, quite flexible, young lady just effortlessly.

reaching forward with her right, [yeah], hand touching her her left toe. But of course, if you’re suffering from, you know, a tight and painful lower back, then that might be something that you might want to be able to do, but it perhaps won’t, won’t work.

It wouldn’t look as good in a photograph shall we say?

Jim Warson

Well, you know, if your back is stiff and tight, it may take you days or weeks to loosen it up. [Yeah]. You don’t just … you’re sitting at a desk staring at a computer eight hours a day and then you get up outta that

Iain Barker

that’s exactly what I’m doing now.

Sitting at a desk, staring at a computer. We all do it don’t we? We do it a lot these days.

Jim Warson

Yeah, you know, you got to maintain some flexibility, or you can always obtain and flexibility, you know, they’ve, they’ve taken people in their 70s, 80s 90s.

And they found that they can become more flexible, and they can actually strengthen up doing basic strengthening exercises, so age is no…

no…

age is not an obstacle to that.

Iain Barker

Yeah, or maybe when you were kind of thinking of the word, you were going to say there. The word that popped into my mind was excuse because people make excuses.

Jim Warson

Yeah, that’s right. I avoided that.

Iain Barker

I know you did. Yeah.

I think we were both thinking the same thing. But yeah, I had to say it. Well it’s easy to make excuses, isn’t it? We all do it. Yeah.

But yeah. As you said, Okay.

Jim Warson

Anything else you wanted to know about the stuff?

Iain Barker

I think we’ve,

we’ve covered pretty much everything that I made notes on.

So

unless you’ve got something else you you think we’ve missed?

Jim Warson

I don’t think so. I kind of enjoyed this. [Yeah, me too] …the new book will be out in May. And it’s got chapters on joint replacements and a few little side things, some hand deals; how to hold the whip anatomically using the the human hand as an anatomical structure. What’s the correct way to hold a whip? Well, nobody ever taught me that I had to figure it out. And why little boys don’t like to ride horses very much and why they’re always a disappointment to mom.

Iain Barker

I saw that, yeah,

You can so imagine that, can’t you? You’ve got a mother who’s a sort of mad keen horsewoman? You know

and he’s just not interested. I didn’t go into it, because it’s not about bad backs. But it kind of it brought tears to my eyes a little bit as I was reading the chapter.

Reading reading the section why young boys don’t like you know, riding horses, even though their mom wants them to. So yeah. I think we’ll leave that to the listeners imagination as to what was going on?

Jim Warson

Yeah but I’ve seen it. I’ve seen mothers literally driven to tears over that. [Yeah]. And you know, they feel like failures and the answer is not their fault.

Iain Barker

Mothers often feel like failures don’t they?. [Yeah, yeah]. Even when it’s not their fault, and they’re actually doing a great job.

Jim Warson

Yeah. Okay, well, I’ll get back to real life here trying to stamp out a few diseases and

Iain Barker

Fantastic! That sounds like important work.

I’m glad we made contact. [Yeah], it’s been interesting talking to you.

Jim Warson

My pleasure is all mine.

Iain Barker

And we’ll have, I’ll have your episode out, I think, next week, so [Okay]. Yeah,

Jim Warson

Thank you very much for your time.

Iain Barker

Pleasure talking to you

Jim Warson

Bye now.

Iain Barker

All the best. Bye bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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