Back to top

Best Stirrups For Knee And Ankle Pain

If you are struggling with knee and ankle pain, there are many different stirrup options available on the market that you can try. Every rider is different, but some stirrups do pride themselves on joint relief and comfort. Pain in your knees and joints can occur for many different reasons. You might just be starting out, you might be doing long hours in the saddle, or you might have a previous injury that is causing pain and discomfort while riding.

The best stirrups for knee and ankle pain are:

  • Flex-on
  • Compositi Reflex Stirrups.
  • Freejump Air’s Stirrups
  • Jointed stirrups
  • Sprenger Bow Balance irons
  • MDC Ultimate Stirrups
  • American Equus stirrups

In this post, I hope you will find a suitable stirrup solution for any knee, ankle, or joint pain you might be having while doing what you love.

Questions we will answer in this post:

  • Why does knee pain occur?
  • What length should my stirrups be?
  • Recommended stirrups for knee pain?
  • Why does ankle pain occur?
  • Recommended stirrups for ankle pain?

Why does knee pain occur from horse riding?

Let’s first look at a few possible reasons why knee pain can occur from horse riding:

1. Stirrups too short

Knee pain can stem from many sources. It could be that the problem lies with the length of your stirrups and not the actual stirrups themselves. Try lengthening your stirrups by a whole or two and see if the pressure on your knees is less.

I was once entered into an endurance race by a friend of mine. Having never done endurance, we rode in our jumping saddles with our shorter jumping stirrups. About halfway through the race, all the showjumpers in their jumping saddles started feeling their knees. This is because, with the shorter stirrup length, our knees were in a tighter position, and pushing our heels far down into the stirrups made it even worse.

That is why endurance riders have longer stirrups so as to not have unnecessary pressure on the knees. As showjumpers we are not in the saddle long enough to realize the pressure we place on our knees. 

What length should your stirrups be?

If you struggle to get out of the saddle and your heels come up when you rise, or you might lose your stirrups in canter or sitting trot, then your stirrups are probably too long. If you start feeling any strain in your knees, then your stirrups might be too short.

Having the correct stirrup length is very important and allows you to utilize your hip function at different lengths required for different disciplines.

Stirrup length – a rough estimate

When you take your feet out of the stirrups, the bottom of the stirrup should be in line with your ankle bone.

Another rough estimate is using your arm length. Place your fingers tips on the top buckle of your stirrup leathers and run them down to tips your armpits.

Stirrups with a wider footbed will put less strain on your knees, as well as stirrups with shock-absorbing properties.

2. Pushing heels too far down

Another reason could be that you are pushing your heels down too far. The most common thing you hear when learning when to ride is “push your heels down” “more weight in your heels” this is so that you can anchor yourself in the saddle while riding. However, cranking your heels down too far tightens up your quads, putting even greater pressure on your knees.

I personally like pushing my heels down too far and can feel the knee pain almost instantly when I overdo it. Placing your weight in your heels without pushing down is still acceptable, especially when you have the right position and balance.

Not pushing down hard will also keep your quads less stiff, allowing the horse to move more freely. Therefore, no need to crank the heels down; just keep them as low as natural.

Best stirrups for knee pain

Now let’s look at the best stirrups you can buy for knee pain.

Flex-on

This brand has a Balance Composition model that can help in reducing strain on leg muscles and joints. The stirrup is strong but lightweight with the footplate elastomer shock-absorbers.

Buy on Amazon.

Compositi Reflex Stirrups

Compositi reflex stirrups are lightweight and affordable stirrups that are fixed on a shock-absorbent layer. They are great for relieving tension and strain on your knees and ankle joints.

Buy on Amazon.

Freejump Air’s Stirrups

With this stirrup, the thread is mounted on an air cushion elastomer for the ultimate shock absorber. They have an off-set eye at 30-degree eyelet that is great for knee and ankle relief. The thread measures a wide 11  x 8 cm with build-in grip studs that allow for a secure grip.

The thread can either be flat or incline choice, and I would recommend a flat grip if you suffer from knee and ankle pain. These stirrups don’t come cheap, but you get value for money and definitely a stirrup I would recommend.

Why does Ankle pain occur from horse riding?

Ankle pain can be caused by neither swiveling your ankle in or swiveling your ankle out. Ankles should not be sticking out, and one should try and keep them parallel to the horse. Turning the ankles in will puts a significant amount of pressure on the outside of the ankle, causing joint pain.

What kind of stirrups are good for Ankle pain?

Stirrups high in shock-absorbing properties are good for joint pain. Also, choose a stirrup with a wide thread for more support. Also, when you start riding, especially if you have not been riding since a young age, it could just be that your ankles need to get stronger, so ensure you have a stirrup that gives you adequate support and not put more unnecessary strain on your ankles. 

What stirrups can make Ankle pain worse?

If you want to take the strain off your ankle joints, then stay away from stirrups build on an incline such as Nu Angles, as they will just add pressure.

Also, avoid a stirrup with a narrow footrest. If you suffer from ankle pain when riding, make sure your foot is well supported, with a wide footrest giving you more support. However, the problem with a very wide footrest can be that you might find it more difficult to keep your heels down and establish a secure leg position, especially if you are a jumper.

Best stirrups for ankle pain

Now let’s look at the best stirrups you can buy for ankle pain.

Jointed stirrups

The more affordable option for relieving joint pain is the jointed stirrup with flexible “joints” on the sides of the stirrups meeting the footbed. They provide comfort and can flex with the rider’s movement and impact.

Buy on Amazon.

Sprenger Bow Balance irons

The 4-way pivot capability significantly reduces strain on the knees and ankles joints. They also have a wider shock-absorbing footbed that makes this stirrup great for riders that struggle with joint pain.

Buy on Amazon.

MDC Ultimate Stirrups

These stirrups strive on the fact that the “Stirrups Come To You and Not You To Them.”  The adjustable top allows the stirrup to release pressure, as you can use the stirrup on an angle that is natural to you. This is supposed to release pressure on your shin by 50%, reducing leg burns.

This stirrup also has multi-point flexible sides that further releases pressure on the joints. This stirrup is expensive but great to use if you have any previous injuries so definitely worth it in my opinion.

Buy on Amazon.

American Equus stirrups

These stirrups are specifically designed to contour your legs around the barrel of the horse, which can ease knee, ankle, and foot pressure while riding. These stirrups also have a wide footbed to help balance and shock absorbing properties that help with joint relief. A stylish stirrup that unfortunately does not come cheap but definitely worth the investment.

Buy on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Unfortunately, Stirrups don’t come cheap, and finding the right stirrup for you and your riding is tricky, but the good news is they do last for a very long time.

Anrie Diedericks

I've been around horses since I was 6 years old and started competing at the age of 9. Horses are my greatest passion and I am thrilled to be able to share my 23 (and counting) years of experience and knowledge with you.

Recent Posts