Good news for equestrians - riding is not bad for your health.
The first analysis of whole-body vibrations for riders has found that the forces exerted on the spine are not likely to cause damage.
The study by German researchers from the Institute for Applied Sport Sciences in Kelkheim and the Institute for Industrial Safety in Augustin was prompted by increasing reports of back pain among professional riders.
Using techniques developed to analyse the impact of machinery on people, they measured acceleration forces on riders with their horses walking, trotting and cantering on treadmills and turntables.
The research, to be revealed at the forthcoming International Workshop on Animal Locomotion in Austria, showed that the values for shock and vibration inflicted on the spine were high compared with motor vehicles.
However, the vibrations were sufficiently rhythmically defined and predictable to enable a top rider to develop muscle to compensate as well as sufficient levels of coordination to avoid injury.