The muscle system is the system that is responsible for movement. Massage nourishes this system, thereby enhancing movement. Any issue that reduces movement, whether it be structural problems or those resulting from injury, can be helped by massage.
Massage extends range of motion by lengthening muscle fiber. This results in more comfortable motion, and longer stride.
The Science of Massage:
Much has been written about the importance of good nutrition to maintain our animal’s health and well-being. A healthy diet is only one part of the equation.
Optimum function is derived from the combination of glucose, from food, and oxygen, which is carried through the bloodstream. The joining of these two elements gives our pet the fuel for movement. Any disruption in the free flow of oxygen will have an impact on this movement.
Illness or injury, overexertion, lack of exercise or the aging process can all lead to circulation issues that will effect maximum efficiency of movement. Once movement is compromised, the muscle system becomes stressed and the possibility for additional problems exists.
A therapeutic deep tissue massage will increase circulation, thereby aiding the flow of oxygen throughout the muscle system.
Massage as Physical Therapy:
Physical therapy is most often applied after an injury. Massage can be a valuable component of physical therapy. However, we as therapists believe that an animal does not have to wait to be injured to be helped by massage.
Dogs and horses are natural athletes. Sports massage is a deep tissue massage technique that addresses the issues that an athlete may face. The muscle system is, after all, the system that is responsible for movement. Anything requiring movement depends on well- functioning muscle. A muscle contracts 2/3 its length. If a muscle is 6 inches long, it will contract 4 inches. If a muscle becomes stressed (due to use or misuse) that muscle will shrink in length, thereby shortening the contraction. This, in turn, will shorten movement….smaller steps, smaller stride; less bend, less ability to turn the body. Massage, through increased circulation, lengthens muscle and connective tissue…back to full stride and flexibility/mobility.
Just as we exercise to maintain fitness, regular massage will help muscles stay toned and healthy. Healthy muscle is less likely to become damaged. Thus, massage is a wonderful preventative and a powerful addition to your animal’s well- being. If an injury does occur, massage can be used as a rehabilitation tool.
Muscles are compensatory. If there is a problem, for example, in the hips, the animal will adjust his weight forward to ease the strain behind. As a result, the front end then becomes over-worked. A full body massage will help to restore balance in movement and comfort.
Learn about more specific benefits for equine massage and for canine massage.