Equine Sports Massage Therapy
IMPROVING PERFORMANCE & RESTORING BALANCE
What Is Equine Sports Massage?
Sports massage uses a hands on simple but very effective technique that is beneficial to horses of all ages and abilities. It helps to ease muscle tightness or spasms enabling the horse to move more freely in there day to day routine.
Massage can be used as a preventative and maintenance as well as rehabilitation following injury. So just because your horse is well does not mean he does not need a massage.
When used as a preventative massage it can help to spot problems in the muscles before they develop into more serious ones. By assessing your horses way of moving, a qualified therapist can use this to work out which muscles could be tight or sore and work on these to release the tension to help your horse move more freely.
For those owners who have had a massage on themselves, you know how much looser and flexible you feel after. This is exactly the same for your horse. It can produce a positive change in the horses disposition, by removing pain in the muscles, and making the horse feel more comfortable in his body. Also from the increased flexibility from massage and stretching this allows for a greater range of motion and reduces strain on tendons and ligaments, maximising tendon and muscle elasticity resulting in easier lateral work, increased stamina when working and a reduced risk of injury in the horse.
Benefits of Sports Massage
Helps calm the nervous animal
Improves muscle strength
Reduce risk of further injury
Help "wake up" lazy horse
Aids mobility and flexibility
Maintenance, all horses benefit from this whatever the discipline.
For general stiffness and tension.
Schooling difficulties, e.g. crooked, one sided, changes in temperament, unwillingness to perform etc.
Pre-competition, to warm up muscles to enhance performance and minimise risk of injury.
Post-competition, to minimise the effects of fatigue and stiffness.
Throughout the competition season to maintain performance.
After or during injury recovery to maintain range of movement and reduce uneven muscle development
So by addressing the minor issues in soft tissue adaptations that are occurring from older injuries and by correcting incorrect movement patterns that have arisen from the horse holding himself incorrectly from old injuries, the horse can perform better.
Signs of Pain or Discomfort on your Horse
Unlike people horses cant speak to tell you what there problem is, they use the only language they know. A horse will let you know through body language or changes in behavior. It is very important for you to be able to read these signs, a first will at first whisper to you in hope you will listen and if you don't this will over time turn into loud screams.
Whispers can be as slight as a slight flinch or twitch in the muscle, turning to look at you when you groom a certain area that is sores or ears back when putting the saddle on.
A horses scream can be then turning to bite you when being saddled, kicking out or turning to bite when grooming a sore spot to bucking and rearing.
Other ways you can tell can be change in your horses disposition, a dulling of the coat, refusing jumps or striking off on the wrong canter lead these can also all be signs of pain. Massage can help all the above, but it should never be used in a lame or sick horse without a veterinary check and diagnosis first.
Massage is a great boost to the body, not only in a physical sense by relaxing the muscles, promoting good blood flow and drainage from toxins from the muscles, but also psychologically. Massage is mentally very relaxing and comforting also building a firm bond between horse and owner.
Regular massage on your animal will help you detect the early signs of an injury occurring, and can also help to minimize the risk of an injury occurring in the first place.
Sports massage is suitable for horses of all activities, from the highly toned competition animal to keep muscles in peak condition, to the older less active companion.
NB: Please seek permission from your vet before any treatment