What Are The Best Stirrups For Knee Pain When Horse Riding?

The Western and English stirrup wrap provides no-slip shock absorption and promotes knee and ankle health.

300,000 knee surgeries are performed in the United States every year. A high percentage of healthy adults who receive new knees are runners and riders.  In equestrian sports, the knee experiences two types of stress: the stretch of the lateral ligaments and impact from riding on a hard stirrup with no shock absorption. Riding horses is a lifestyle with long hours, and one that should not include knee problems!

Stirrup Wraps

After years of working with spinal surgeons on riders’ back health and riders’ comfort in the saddle, we began working with knee surgeons to develop a specifically designed product for riders with knee pain.  Along the way we developed a product that does so much more; it absorbs shock, relieves ankle pain, and creates stability too.

Solving Rider Knee & Ankle Pain

We have all seen the funny photos of cowboys with bowed legs, but had not taken this as a true and serious problem until several of our customers brought it to our attention. It appears not to be just another funny story. People who ride a lot and those who have ridden for most of their lives actually stretch the outside ligament of their knee. Not only does this cause joint pain and mild deformity of the legs, but can also lead to early arthritis.

ThinLine worked with surgeons and developed a simple wedge system that attaches to any stirrup and straightens the lower leg just enough to allow the rider to use the leg effectively against the horse but does not allow the tendon to overstretch. You might be thinking, what about jointed stirrups? Those stirrups flex! The flex on type of stirrup is great for ankle pain, but does not support the ligaments of the lower leg in the same way. Traditional irons aren’t able to offer elevated support either.

The wedge is made of plastic and ThinLine performance foam wraps around both the wedge and the stirrup. Here is where the real fun begins.

Thinline stirrup wedge

Information From Surgeons:

  • Riding can produce a bowlegged deformity. This happens by stretching the lateral ligament in the knee and compressing the medial ligament and the medial meniscus, the disc-like cartilage between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (leg bone below the knee), and causes is how knee pain occurs. This takes a lot of riding to happen, but the funny photos of cowboys with bowed legs are real.


  • This is lessened by using an appropriately wedged stirrup. Here’s how it works: bend your knee slightly as if you were in the stirrup, then slightly evert (roll outward) your foot. You will notice a very slight distraction or opening up of the inside of the knee, relieving some of the pressure on the inside of the knee joint.


  • This also relaxes the ligament on the outside of the knee slightly. The wedged stirrup works in this manner to counteract the forces that result in bowlegs from our legs going around the horse’s barrel.


  • Wedged stirrups are not new. You may have seen them in tack stores and wondered about them. There are 2 reasons why the old ones were not appropriate: first, the wedge angles used in these stirrups were too high, and second, they did not have an impact absorptive surface for the foot to rest on. Select types of stirrup leathers claim to offer solutions for this, but do not have impactive absorptive surfaces either.


  • A high angle results in many riders jamming the ankle (which can happen often with jointed stirrups, making ankle pain worse) bone against the base of the tibia in the ankle joint, resulting in cartilage wear and damage. This is relieved by a lower angle and by an impact absorptive pad. The pad allows micro-movements of the ankle reducing jamming and increasing joint fluid circulation between the joint surfaces.


  • The best combination I’ve found for angled support, plus shock absorption is produced by the company ThinLine, known for its impact absorbent saddle pads (also great for keeping riders’ spines healthy for decades longer than riding without a shock-absorbing saddle pad). In addition to the angle and impact protection, their stirrups feature the third benefit by offering a stabilizing non-slip surface, potentially lessening the probability of a knee or ankle bone wrench in a “bad moment” on the horse. Plus, they never compromise an intentional foot position. The stirrup wraps even fit stirrups with a wide footbed. The combination of the angle and premium shock absorption material (ThinLine) will relieve tension.


  • As a surgeon who has seen countless accidents and long-term damage to brains, backs, hips, and knees I am pleased riders now use helmets most of the time but believe the audience is unaware of how much damage they continue to do to backs and knees by not using a simple shock absorber.  These products are proven to alleviate knee and ankle pain.

Dr. James Warson

How ThinLine Stirrups Wraps Improve a Riders Sense of Security

ThinLine stirrup wraps for bad knees are the perfect non-slip.  There is just enough “stickiness” to keep the stirrup against your foot while allowing freedom of re-positioning.  The non-slip properties in conjunction with the shock absorption help riders of all levels easily stay with their horse. Dressage riders, endurance riders, Western riders, English riders, and really most riders can benefit from this technology!

Stirrup wraps from Thinline

How Shock Absorbing Stirrups Wraps Improve Riding

During a dressage lesson, my seat was too heavy and I was sitting against the motion of the horse. My trainer used the analogy of standing on a trampoline. Of course, you would want to do just the opposite: use the trampoline to NOT bounce, but it is true that I was not placing enough weight into my stirrups and was carrying too much weight in my seat, not allowing the horse to lift his back.

As I began using my feet to carry more and more weight, I noticed that I could actually sit the trot better. Not only did the springs and hinges in my ankle and knees help to reduce the bounce, but the ThinLine allowed my foot not to move (unless I actually picked it up and moved it on purpose) in the stirrup so I could have the confidence to move my lower leg position forward and back as I needed for lateral, extended or collected work. Plus, no more knee pain!

The biggest “aha” moment was when I realized I could put weight into the stirrup and the ThinLine absorbed so much of the bounce I could maintain an upper body position that made me look as though I was not moving on the horse at all! Yes, the reverse of the trampoline effect! Bounce with no bounce! Landing off a jump was extraordinary! No more jarring, it was like landing like a feather. My horse loved it and stopped rushing to the fence. The best stirrups for knee pain are stirrups utilizing the ThinLine stirrup wraps. My balance was drastically improved.

I have a penchant for buying horses with huge gaits, but now I have the ThinLine on the stirrup wrap helps you stay with your horse. Creating a more comfortable ride, for both you and them. Of course, the end result is; that their back goes up, their gaits improve, and voila, up go the scores! – Elaine


Western stirrup wrap on a saddle


Click here to view the Thinline stirrup wraps: Ride Right Stirrup Wrap.