Therapy Descriptions and Benefits

Sports Massage Therapy

Sports massage therapy is the use of manual manipulation of soft tissues to relief tension and pain. Massage can improve your horses’s flexibility, responsiveness, and overall performance. The massage touch has a very strong influence on healing.It is used to help prevent and relieve stress and assist in the recovery of injuries. Greatly improving the overall ability of the body to function efficiently.This modality helps the body’s ability to get back to work. If you don’t address and correct factors responsible for the problems you are treating the symptoms may return. These can be musculoskeletal, occupational, or emotional. Along with veterinarian care massage therapy will help your horse perform at his best.

Acupressure

According to traditional Chinese medicine energy called Chi flows through the body on channels called meridians. The positive energy is Yang and the negative energy is Yin. Imbalances between the Yin and the Yang and blockages in the meridians allow pathological conditions to begin. External factors ( cold, heat, wind ), emotional factors ( stress, fear, anger), and pathogenic factors ( trauma, exertion ) can contribute to creating these imbalances. Pathological changes increase blood flow which lowers electrical resistance and increased sensitivity at acupoints. Stimulating specific acupressure points or a combination of points adjusts the energy level and helps the body reestablish equilibrium allowing the body to heal.

Acupressure helps me determine where I need to work on the horse. When I first go over the horse, I feel for tender areas and look for responses from the animal. While working on a certain muscle group or group of muscles, I can help release tension in these trigger points that may need additional work.

Equine Electro-Acupressure and Electro-Muscle Therapy

I use a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulaion) machine in order to facilitate this type of therapy. Leads are applied to the skin that produces an electrical current to stimulate the nerves for pain relief.  Stimulating acupoints and moving the muscles produce endorphins which help relieve pain. It is believed that the analgesia is produced via the opiate mediated mechanism of pain control. Results may last up to a week. I usually try to do weekly treatments to get initial control of the pain cycle. Depending on the horse follow up massages and additional TENS treatments either weekly or monthly are recommended.

I have had great results with using this modality. I used it on a horse diagnosed with kissing spine and one with an old SI injury. These horses have returned to work. With proper training and groundwork these horses are staying pain free and their backs are building muscle and getting stronger. Neck issues and hamstring strains have also benefitted from the TENS machine.

Tui-Na

A hands-on body treatment using techniques to open the body’s defensive (wei) chi and get the energy moving along the meridians as well as in the muscles. It gets the muscles ready for acupressure and stretching.

Photo courtesy of Sue Kyllonen

Stretching

Horses instinctively stretch and are continually tuning up muscles they use the most. When we work our horses we add additional stress to their body.

Routine massage and stretching will keep them sounder and generally happier.

Stretching improves the elasticity and tone of the muscle fibers to help reduce muscle tension and possible muscle pulls. Stretching prevents ligament sprain and loosens the joint capsules making the body feel more relaxed. It helps relieve muscle pain from chronic problems and post exercise soreness.

I finish my massage routine with stretches to trigger benefits such as loosening muscle fibers and bringing more blood and greater flexibility to the joints. Riding adds to the stress of the body and I try to help the horse stay strong and fit ready for another day.