My horse is not quite right? Could a massage help?
Did you ever wake up and feel sore, have difficulty turning your neck or bending over in the morning?
Perhaps when you walk you get a pain in your lower back and don’t understand why?
Horses have a similar muscular system as humans. They get sore muscles and knots in their neck, shoulders, and back just like we do – but they can’t tell us. This pain and soreness can create shortened range of motion and a lower level of performance.
How does a muscle work?
Muscles are complex, however, the concept on how they function is simple. Muscles create movement by contracting and pulling on the bones that they are attached to. They act in opposing forces – when one muscle pulls or contracts another muscle must relax – much like a pulley.
Why is my horse having trouble lengthening his stride and not moving forward?
Muscles are made up of thousands of fibers that lay within a protective sheath and when functioning properly they allow oxygen and other nutrients to flow freely throughout our body. When a muscle is damaged or overworked the fibers can get congested, inflamed and stick together, creating a type of roadblock which many people call a muscle knot or Trigger Point.
Trigger Points are spots in the muscle where toxins and waste have collected due to the loss of circulation. They often feel like hard peas and are hypersensitive, due to increased muscle contraction and spasm, as well as increased nerve sensitivity ranging from sharp pain to dull ache.
The best way to explain what happens when a muscle is not working properly is to think of a group of rubber bands laying parallel to one another and stretch the bands as far as they can go – this is their full range of motion. Now put a few knots in them -they won’t stretch as far and their performance is diminished.
This is a similar concept of how muscles become dysfunctional and are not able to lengthen. Since 60% of a horse’s weight is made up by their muscular system, you can see how critical it is to maintain the health of their muscular system. Imagine.... a thousand pound horse will have six hundred pounds are muscle! That is a lot of muscle!
How can massage help?
Massage is a modality that has been used for thousands of years. It is a hands on non-evasive technique and can have profound effects on you and your horse. Massage techniques can vary, however, the concepts are the same regardless of modality. A trained and experienced therapist applies different levels of compression or cross fiber friction, depending on the muscle tone and direction of muscle fibers, which, influences the soft tissue below. This compression releases the inflamed and congested muscle fiber allowing the blood and nutrients to begin circulating and healing the tissue again.