Is Your Body Sore or Tense When You Ride? Discover How Self Massage Will Help!

August 3, 2016

As a rider for over 30 years, I have had my share of aches and pains. There is nothing more annoying than a sore body that keeps you from doing what you love.

Or like many riders you might not feel sore, but you’ve gotten feedback that you are tense and not as supple as you could be. This is a potential problem for both you and your horse that can negatively affect your riding performance.

How does this happen and what can we do about it? This article will discuss what might be causing these problems and reviews both foam rollers and Yamuna Body Rolling balls to alleviate or prevent the problem.

Tension or soreness in the body can be caused by many reasons including poor posture, incorrect riding position or not stretching enough. When this happens your muscles and fascia covering them do not function to peak performance causing you to be stiff and sore. Worse case scenario a little bit of tenderness turns into an injury that keeps you off your horse.

Your muscles and fascia might also not function properly due to an accident or to repetitive stress.

The second basically boils down to the following concept. If you use your body the same way over and over again and do not condition your body in other ways, the repetition causes an over-use injury. This could be occupational or due to a sport like horse back riding.

To top it off, if we are training hard we might not be giving our bodies the amount of time it really needs to recover.

Please continue reading or click on the table of contents below to skip the answers to your most pressing questions.

So here is the $64 question . . . .

Are you a rider who does the right kind of sports conditioning to keep overall balance in your body?

After training many people over the years, and being a rider myself, I know that most riders just want to spend time in the barn. This is natural. It is fun and we love doing. However, if you want to continue riding pain-free, I would recommend a conditioning program like EQUESTRIAN PILATES® coupled with myofascial release exercises.

You might not feel it when you are young, but things tend to change as we age. It’s better to start off right then to try to fix a problem later.

What is EQUESTRIAN PILATES® and how can it help me?

In a nutshell, EQUESTRIAN PILATES® is a sports conditioning program for riders. It helps condition the rider for the specific needs of the sport, helps the rider stay pain-free, teaches the rider how to notice how their body is moving correctly or incorrectly, and much more.

For a thorough explanation click here to read more about it.

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a fancy way to describe muscle pain and refers to inflammation and pain in the body’s soft tissue. The word fascia refers to the connective tissues that cover the muscles. When the body is out of balance and alignment repeatedly our muscles cannot work optimally. When movement like this is repeated, the muscles get sore and there is extra tension on the fascia.

This could be caused by doing the same movement over and over correctly or incorrectly. That is why it is so important to vary our movement and do complimentary exercises to alleviate this problem or prevent it from happening altogether.

Here are some examples of problems MPS can cause:

  • Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Headaches and/or Migraines
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Sports Injuries
  • Chronic Pain
  • Disc Problems
  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Jaw Pain

What is myofascial release?

Myofascial release is a safe and effective hands-on technique that applies gentle pressure to release tension and restore balance in the myofascial tissues.

One of the most traditional and fun ways of accomplishing this is an overall massage or myofascial release therapy.

One of my preferred specialty massages is rolfing. It can be rather painful and requires multiple sessions, but it was so effective the last time I tried it that I would try it again.

The downside to these kind of treatments is that they are expensive and for many cost prohibitive. That’s why I recommend learning some exercises on the foam roller to release tension in the body.

The other way and the one that I recommend most often is to purchase Yamuna Body Rolling Balls and either a video or a book to learn the exercises.

Why Should I try Exercises for Myofascial Release?

If you are experiencing sciatica, low back pain, tension in the hips, pain in the neck or in other parts of your body you do not want to ignore it. And if it is preventing you from riding or you are hurting when you ride because of it something should be done.

In terms of how this affects your riding, it can have a significant impact on the success of your ride. The horse’s movement is a reflection of the rider’s body. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort or simply can’t move the way that you want to on horseback you will not be as supple as is needed to be an effective rider. And worse than that if you are stiff, your horse will be stiff too.

When dealing with soreness it’s easy to just pop some Advil or Tylenol to give yourself temporary relief, but in the long run, this approach is not good. For one, it just masks the symptoms. You might be pain-free for an hour or two, but as you can’t feel the pain you are more likely to hurt yourself even more.

Furthermore, studies on the long-term effects of pain medication show that these drugs can hurt us.

If massage is not within your budget then I highly recommend using Yamuna Body Rolling Balls or the foam roller to release tension in your body to allow it to heal properly.

What is the foam roller and what can I do with it?

A foam roller can be a great way to do self-myofascial release or foam rolling. The foam roller can help you do self-massage and get to all of those trigger points that are causing pain in your body. When you apply pressure to those parts of your body that are experiencing pain, you are helping them recover more quickly and return to their normal function. You can roll just about the entire body.

Using a foam roller to release tension helps to break up the muscle knots and return normal blood flow to the area.

A common place to start is rolling on your IT band (iliotibial). This is a common area of pain for equestrians as when it is tight it can cause shooting pain from the hip all the way down to the ankle.

To do this exercise you will lie on your side with the foam roller under your hip and roll from your hip down to right above your knee. If you feel a particularly sore spot you can stop and focus more on that area.









Here is a link to a YouTube video that I made showing how to roll the IT band, lower back, and buttocks on a foam roller.

When rolling the IT band on the foam roller it is normal to experience some pain. However, if it is excruciating you should stop. It should be uncomfortable but not unbearable.

Keep in mind that if you are really tight you do not want to start out with the hardest roller as this most likely will hurt.

On a side note, please make sure you consult a physician before doing these exercises.

Why am I doing something that hurts?

When getting a deep tissue massage there is sometimes pain as well, but that is a bit easier for us to tolerate as most of the experience is quite nice.

Self-myofascial release can also cause some pain, and since it is self-inflicted, it is east to give up. Before you do try to remember that you are in control of your experience. You can go to those places that need it the most, but you can also stop when it become too unbearable.

Hopefully, the overall experience will be something that, “hurts so good”. This means that it is uncomfortable, but afterwards it feels great because the tension was released.

Which foam roller should I buy?

I recommend two products. 

OPTP PRO-ROLLER Standard Density Foam Roller

If you are new to foam rolling and your body is not used to it, then I recommend that you start off with a roller that is standard density. If you buy one that is too hard you will be in too much pain and then you will quit.

One of the best options is the OPTP PRO-ROLLER Standard Density. It is professional quality. Most other rollers are not worth the money as they are soft and break down. For example, avoid any of the cheaper, white foam rollers as they will not last.


  • 36” x 6”
  • It is heated molded EVA foam designed for exceptionally heavy usage


  • This roller is durable and perfect for self-massage, stretching, overall fitness, yoga, and Pilates.


  • It is currently rated 4 1/2 stars on Amazon with over 500 reviews.


  • It is easy to clean with a wipe or a wet cloth with a mild detergent.

Click the image below to find out more about it on Amazon.

HealthyLifeStyle! Black High-Density Round EPE Foam Roller

It is made in the USA from molded polypropylene foam with 2 pounds per cubic foot density. This means that it is not going to squish after multiple uses.


  • It comes in three sizes 12”, 18” and 36”. I recommend the 36” for self-massage.


  • This roller is perfect for those who need a roller with a little bit more strength. Keep in mind, however, that as it is harder it might be more painful for you to body roll on. It is also hard enough for balance exercises, personal training, physical therapy, strengthening exercises, and self-massage.


  • 5-year warranty.


  • It is currently for sale on Amazon with a 4 1/2 star rating.


  • You can easily clean this foam roller with a wipe or a cloth and mild detergent.

Click on the image below to check it out on Amazon.


I bought my foam roller. What do I do now?

For learning myofascial release exercises I recommend the MELT Method.

The book is called, “The MELT Method: A Breakthrough Self-Treatment System to Eliminate Chronic Pain, Erase the Signs of Aging, and Feel Fantastic in Just 10 Minutes a Day!

This book was written by Sue Hitzmann to help people self-treat their daily aches and pains.

MELT is an acronym for Myofascial Energetic Length Technique.

Ms. Hitzmann’s book focuses on connective tissue which surrounds all parts of your body and can cause great pain when it is not functioning properly. Her exercises are designed to help restore your connective tissue by relaxing your muscles, breaking up your scar tissue, stimulating the nervous system, and encouraging blood flow.

What sets it apart from other books is that everything is very well explained and it promises to make you feel better in just ten minutes per day. In my experience to see results you really need to do more like 15 minutes 3 times per day.

Some people might find some of the book a bit of a turn off when she goes into her intuitive ability to sense connective tissue vibrations. It also includes a lot of details that might be overwhelming to some. If this is you, then you can go straight to the exercises and skip the theory.

To use this book you need a foam roller and also a soft small ball, like the Yamuna Body Rolling ball.

It comes as both a book and ebook.

If you would like to learn more about this book on Amazon click here.

What is Yamuna Body Rolling?

I’ll be honest with you. If I were to pick one over the other, I would pick Yamuna Body Rolling Balls. Yamuna Zake created her program to herself from physical injuries that would not heal with conventional medicine. I had the pleasure of meeting her once at a fitness conference many years ago. I found her to be one of the most gentle and friendly people that I have ever met.

This program will definitely help you release tension and muscle soreness in the body as well as increase your range of motion, improve your body alignment and posture, increase your flexibility, and help you just feel darn good.

The reason that I love Yamuna Body Rolling Balls is that they were specifically developed for weight bearing support to allow for the muscles in your body to safely release their tension. It is also a much gentler approach to releasing fascia tension than any of the foam roller programs.

If the ball is too soft or too hard then it can’t help your body release its tension as effectively. It is the only brand of body rolling balls that I recommend.

In order to fully utilize this program, I recommend getting both the black and gold balls. The black balls are the correct density and strength to work just about any muscle in the body. They are best for legs, shoulders, and arms. (Just as a note some books reference a red ball. This is no longer sold. Use the gold ball instead.)

The gold ball is essential for beginners and works great for the chest and abdominal muscles. After you become more supple you can use the black ball all over your body.

The other great thing about this methodology is the support that you get from Yamuna. Click here to find AnatomyU to teach yourself about the program and how it can help you best.

Which products should I buy for Yamuna Body Rolling?

I recommend that you purchase the two black balls and the gold ball. The most cost effective way to do this is to purchase a bundled offer that includes all of these balls, a pump, and the added bonus of a DVD that focuses on the neck and shoulders.

Click here to take you to Amazon to see that package.

As equestrians, we should focus on the entire body so I also recommend that you buy a second product that will give you a full body workout.

That book is called “The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout: The Revolutionary Way to Tone, Lengthen, and Realign Your Body”

Click here to connect to Amazon to see that book.

This book is a must have as it gives you a complete exercise program that includes the front and the back of the body and your sides. It is like having a daily massage.

All of Yamuna’s products have a great guarantee that is called “Our No Hassles Free Returns”.

In Conclusion

As equestrians, we need more exercise than just riding. To fully enjoy our sport for the rest of our lives we need to take care of our bodies. EQUESTRIAN PILATES plus myofascial release creates the balanced, fit equestrian body that we are after.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. If you like my review and my website please consider clicking through my links to Amazon. The commission I earn from Amazon allows me to continue keeping this blog up and running.

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