Equine Bodywork - So much more than a massage
Deep Tissue Sports massage, accupressure, myofascial release, stretching and a range of motion exercises form the foundation of Equine Body Work.
Equine Body Work goes beyond just treating the area that appears to be hurting, the evaluation of the horse's posture, compensation patterns, gait analysis, tack and training form an integral part of the treatment.
The well being of the equine body relies on the entire system functioning without restriction.
Blood needs to freely circulate to all parts of the horse's body, nerves must have sufficient room around them to fulfill their function as messengers to the brain, and joints need to move without restriction throughout their range of motion. Muscular health is so important. Contracted muscles that do not release back into their optimal functioning length restrict the flow of blood around the body, the way in which the joints move and the functioning of all tendons and ligaments. A muscle that is in a permanent state of contraction, even a mild one, has to rely on other muscles as well as ligaments and tendons to compensate for it. This burns excess energy and forces the horse to work against itself.
Equine Body Work is therefore a unique approach to equine health care and so much more than 'just massage'! An Equine Body Work session normally starts with the full medical history of the horse being taken down.
It is not unusual to find, for example, that the stretched tendon on the foreleg the horse suffered 3 years ago is still causing tightness around the shoulder area. The Body Worker (EBW) will then assess the horse's posture and conformation, followed by an assessment of the horse's movement.
By using different modalities I am able to 'feel', manipulate and release the soft tissue and fascia back to their optimal state to insure that horse is able to move to the best of their ability.
Acupressure has been proven to:
- Strengthen muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones
- Release natural cortisone to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Resolve injuries more readily by increasing blood flow to remove toxins
- Release endorphins to increase energy and reduce pain
- Enhance mental clarity and calm required for focus in training and performance
This is a topic so large that it needs its own page, but in short. Myofascial release is a hands-on, whole body technique. It applies gentle sustained pressure on the myofascial connective tissue to follow and release barriers of restriction. It takes 90 to 120 seconds to release into the first barrier of restriction, and a minimum of five minutes for a full release in one area. Only then will the tissue begin to change. Mirrored dysfunction is often seen. A horse and rider influence each other through the imbalances in their bodies. If your seat bones are uneven in the saddle, you’re causing your pelvis and spine to tilt. The difference in pressure will ask your horse to bend and lift his back asymmetrically, creating torsion in his body. Over time, his fascia will restrict and lead to the horse’s structural alignment being altered by fascial restrictions. This can lead to difficulties maintaining a gait, a loss of power, or lack of flexibility. Fascial restrictions also commonly create lameness, pain, behavioral changes and fatigue. MFR can help prevent and treat all these issues, while regular treatments can help your horse stay healthier and recover from injury faster.
Rehabilitation & Scar Tissue
A muscle or tendon which has suffered a trauma usually builds scar tissue, which when left untreated can cause long term problems, restricting not only the function of the muscle itself but also the 'team members' around it.
Equine Body Work during recovery helps to both prevent scar tissue from forming by keeping the area flexible as well as helps to break up and re-align existing scar tissue. A stall-rested horse starts losing muscle tone and mobility very quickly. It is therefore vital to maintain those aspects through bodywork massage and range of motion/physio exercises for recovery.
RED LIGHT THERAPY
"LED light therapy is really a way to help the body heal itself. We use specific wavelengths of light that are absorbed by a photo acceptor, cytochrome c oxidase within the mitochondria of the cell. The energy (photons) from the lights increases the energy within the cell and that speeds up the healing process. The lights must be specific wavelengths and must be delivered at a specific dosage. We use two wavelengths in our light therapy pads, a visible red and a near infrared wavelength. Using both red and near infrared lights is beneficial because the wavelengths are absorbed by different depths of tissue.
The combination of the two work in concert to provide benefits for soft tissue injuries, inflammation, ligament soreness, tendon problems, sore backs, splints, strains, stifle issues, sprains, swelling, shoulder pain, hip pain, sore backs, sore necks, salivary gland problems, wounds, cuts, scrapes, arthritis pain and for trigger points and acupuncture points.
Visible red light (660nm) is absorbed by skin layers very efficiently and is best for uses such as stimulating trigger and acupuncture points and for treating wounds and infections. Near infrared light (880nm) penetrates to a deeper level has been used to treat concerns of tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and muscle.
**Collagen is the most common protein found in the body and the essential protein used to repair damaged tissue and to replace old tissue. Studies cite that LEDs stimulate the production of collagen. It has been reported that by increasing collagen production, less scar tissue is formed at the damaged site.
**LED therapy is reported to stimulate the release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the major carrier of energy to all cells and provides the chemical energy that drives the chemical reaction of the cell. Increases in ATP allow cells to use nutrients faster and get rid of waste products faster by increasing the energy level in the cell.
**Increases lymphatic system activity. Edema has two basic components, liquid and protein. Research has shown that the lymph vessel diameter and the flow of the lymph system can be doubled with the use of light therapy. This means that both parts of edema can be eliminated at a much faster rate to relieve swelling.
**Reduces the excitability of nervous tissue. The light energy stimulates the release of endorphins which are the body's own long term pain fighting chemicals.
**May improve peripheral neuropathies by stimulating nitric oxide production.
**Increases RNA and DNA synthesis which helps damaged cells to be replaced more quickly.
**Increases the process of scavenging for and ingesting dead or degenerated cells by phagocyte cells for the purpose of clean up. This is an important part of the infection fighting process. Destruction of the infection and clean up must occur before the healing process can take place.
**Stimulates fibroblastic activity that aids in the repair process. Fibroblasts are present in connective tissue and are capable of forming collagen fibers.*
**Stimulates tissue granulation and connective tissue projections, part of the healing process.
**Stimulates trigger and acupuncture points.
**Helps relax muscles.
Cupping therapy has a very holistic affect: the blood circulation is stimulated, physical tension is dissolved and physical pain and inflammation is reduced. Cupping therapy can even stimulate the body's inner organs to regenerate and heal themselves. Cupping therapy's goal is to strengthen the body's ability to heal itself, activate the immune system, and stimulate the body's natural
detoxification process. Cupping therapy also activates the reflex zones along the horse's back which are all connected to the inner organs through nerve cells. Cupping is also an excellent form of lymphatic drainage. Myofascial release is accomplished with the lifting and loosening of adhesions while assisting in the restructuring of the underlying myofascial bands. Negative pressure therapy also affects the parasympathetic nervous system allowing an added relaxation component to the treatment.
Helps to decrease muscle soreness, decrease swelling and inflammation, decrease recovery time. It helps increase lymphatic flow, and increase your horse’s soundness potential. It also has no side affects and can be used while training.
- Increase oxygen supply and circulation to an area.
- Reduce fatigue.
- Aid in shortening the healing time.
- Decrease recovery time.
- Decrease inflammation, swelling and the associated pain.
- Decrease toxin and metabolism by-product build-up to help muscles and joints work more efficiently.
SureFoot Stability Physiotherapy Pads
SURE FOOT Pads vary in density from Hard to Soft, providing a wide range of pattern variation for your horse to experience. The SURE FOOT Pads challenge your horse’s balance, activate proprioception, work the small postural muscles, and creates awareness. The degree of difficulty depends on the Pad density and number of hooves placed on Pads. Once the horse is familiar with SURE FOOT the pattern can be varied on any given day depending on the horse’s condition, medical history, and desired effect.