Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Importance of Fascia

The entire human body is lined with a connective tissue called fascia. Fascia links every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as all internal organs, including the heart, lungs, brain, and spinal cord. It is what binds everything together. When the fascia loses its pliability, it becomes a source of tension and pain. By simply keeping fascia healthy and flexible, it creates a balance throughout the entire body.

Myofascial release therapy helps relieve pain, loosen tight muscles, reduce stress, improve circulation, improve joint mobility, release tight fascia, alleviate tension and much more! Every athlete, human or animal, can improve their performance by body work that keeps fascia free and supple.



Massage for Injuries

When an injury first heals, massage can be essential for returning the body to its pre-injury state. Massage can also help with an old injury and the compensations and wrong patterns that can develop as a result. Undoing long standing distortions from old injuries will take more sessions of body work than newer injuries.

If left untreated for too long, muscles affected by injury can spread to many other muscles (and the way they move) in the body. When working on a new horse, I often find myself uncovering many layers of dysfunction, as each contracted muscle leads me to another. It can take several sessions to restore balance, and if the muscles have been very tight for a long period of time, it is very likely that the skeleton has been pulled out of alignment. Deep tissue massage and chiropractic done in conjunction with each other will be needed to restore symmetry and full motion.

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Dry Needling For Chronic Pain

Athletes who suffer chronic pain from sports injuries might want to look into dry needling.

Trigger Point Dry Needling.

Like acupuncture, dry needling, as the name suggests, employs the use of needles to relieve chronic muscle pain, but that’s about where the comparison ends.

Whereas acupuncture is more of a systemic approach, with trigger point therapy we’ll only treat the area that is injured as opposed to having needles all over the body. A trigger point is very mechanical. Each muscle has a trigger point area, and when injured it goes into a contracting state, pulling and putting tension on the tendon and joint. When we put the needle in this area, a reflex tension response happens, and the muscle contraction lets go. It creates less pressure on the surrounding tissue, and you also get more circulation and more of a natural healing effect. The relief can be immediate.

Dry needling can also be used on new injuries and it has been shown to reduce recovery time.

Dry needle therapy 2011-10-26

The Rice Bucket Workout

My son is a rock climber, specifically bouldering, and uses the rice bucket workout to build strength in his hands, relieve tension, and increase circulation. (I also use the cold laser on his hands).

This workout is also used by baseball players, boxers, and other athletes. It seems like this simple and inexpensive exercise would be useful to riders who have to grip reins for hours a day if they are riding multiple horses.

Strong hands are less susceptible to injury. Strengthening the hands will provide the endurance necessary to continually clench the fist while riding.

Here is a video showing some of the movements :


An Alternative Method of Pain Relief

If you or your animal has muscle pain, the quickest way to get relief is through myofascial release and trigger point therapy. If pressure is applied to stress points or trigger points in the muscle, the pain will be relieved within a minute. It is that simple. Taking pain medications is temporary and harmful to the body, but that is what modern medicine continues to rely on for the most part.

Once the muscle has been released, the pain relief is permanent (unless the activity that caused the pain is repeated. For instance, there are certain chairs that create a painful spasm in my leg. I have learned to release the spot and my leg is fine unless I sit in the wrong chair.)

Many people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia can be “cured” with myofascial release. Many people (and horses) with back pain can be helped with this form of massage, when chiropractic treatments have failed. Chiropractors adjust bones and the skeleton, but if the source of pain is muscular, chiropractic treatment will not address the source of the pain.

Recently I went to work on a pony that I have been working with for a few years. I had last seen him in October, at the end of a very busy show season. At the show, I worked on him every day for 5 days in a row. For this appointment I expected to see a pony in need of quite a few adjustments, but I ended up just checking all his old trouble spots, and then giving him a relaxing massage. All the stress points that had been a source of discomfort in the past are gone. I credit good riding and care for his very healthy and youthful-feeling body, but last year at this time he had some painful imbalances that I worked on. Myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and stress point therapy can have very lasting effects!




Riders With Knee Pain

Event riders and jumpers tend to suffer knee pain, since maintaining balance in half seat or two point position puts a lot of stress there. Keeping the quadriceps and the vastus medialis oblique will help keep your knee healthy, but if you have pain at a horse show, getting cold laser treatment can reduce the pain, inflammation, and swelling, and allow you to focus on your competition.

Weakness around the hip muscles is often another area that needs to be addressed with a strengthening program to improve the alignment at the knee.

Tight muscles are another possible cause that can contribute to abnormal tracking of the patella. Deep tissue massage, rolfing, structural integration are all names for the therapies that can help in the long term.



How Does Your Horse Use His Body?

The way the muscles of your horse are developed can give you big clues as to what areas are getting over-stressed and which muscles the horse might be avoiding using.

I have an equine client that is massive. He is half draft, half Dutch warmblood and is impressively huge. When I work on him, I work up a sweat trying to get through the density of his muscles. But a red flag has been waving since I first started working on him: his pectoral muscles have always felt flabby in comparison with the rest of him.

I always aim to massage this big guy to help him achieve better balance and shift weight off his front end. His front legs have been injury prone and his owner has found that keeping him on a 3 or 4 week body work schedule helps keep him free from injury. Keeping a horse balanced, both laterally and longitudinally, is one of the best insurance policies you can find. Noticing the weaker muscles on your horse can guide you towards a fitness and injury prevention program.


Can You Avoid Feeding Your Horse GMOs?

For Christmas my daughter (she knows me well!) gave me a Non Gmo Cookbook (who knew that existed??). Looking at the categories in the beginning of the book renewed my concern for the health of our horses. In the high risk crop category is alfalfa, canola (90% of US crop), corn (88%), and sugar beets (95%). This category includes crops that are in commercial production in genetically engineered form.

I won’t get into the debate on whether GMO crops are safe to eat, since there are loud arguments on both sides. More than 60 countries have banned the production and sale of GMOs. Australia, Japan, and all of the European Union have banned them.

In the near future it may be impossible to buy hay or beet pulp that is not genetically engineered.

This is a link to animal feeds that do not contain GMO:

Here is a list of dog foods that do not contain GMOs.  Please let me know if you have more information and I will publish it.

Brad’s Raw 4 Paws
Furry Foodie
Mary’s Organic Pet Food
Nummy Tum Tum
Scratch and Peck
Sun Chlorella
Sweetwater Creek Ranch Organic Pet Food
Sweetwater Creek Ranch Pet Food


Is Your Horse Balanced?

The horse should be identical on both sides of his body. Such a simple concept, but so difficult to achieve! In order to be a successful, healthy, injury and pain free animal, the horse must have equal capacity on each side of the body for muscle contraction and extension.

Horses have a genius for compensation. As many of you have experienced when trying to reach a diagnosis, horses can mask a problem in the most inventive ways! Evaluation of asymmetries is one of my first jobs when I work on a horse.

After working on a very lopsided horse, I often suggest that the rider see a rolfer so the rider is as centered as possible and not contributing to the muscle imbalance in the horse.

Common problems that are often the result of an unbalanced horse and rider:
Shortened Stride ,Girthing Problems, Improper Tracking ,Hind Leg Scuffing, Sore Back ,Refusing or Resisting Leads ,Head and Neck Tossing, Hip and Shoulder Lameness, Head Bobbing ,Rearing ,Bucking

Equine massage helps:

Maintain muscle symmetry

Enhance muscle tone and increase range of motion

Ease muscle spasms

Extend both the good health and the overall life of the animal’s athletic career

Given the complexity of their movement and their musculo/skeletal construction, horses have much to gain from massage therapy. Horses are athletes and, like us, can develop sore muscles, stiff joints, and restricted range of motion. If massage is practiced on a regular basis it can help alleviate these symptoms and, more importantly, help prevent injury.


How Does the Cold Laser Target Damaged Cells?

Cold laser therapy is  non-invasive, but how does it work? There is no medication, no recovery time, no side effects, and the treatment is painless.

The treatment stimulates the cytochrome oxidase enzyme in the cells’ mitochondria. This is actually one of the key discoveries in the whole science of laser therapy. Specifically, injured cells are targeted because damaged cells are more readily accepting of photons of light, whereas healthy cells don’t need this extra energy.

Laser treatments have been shown to stimulate increased levels of beta-endorphins, which are neuropeptides that function as natural analgesics.

Cold laser therapy has also been shown to help reduce inflammation after an acute injury by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory compounds in the body, such as prostaglandin.  Laser light can also reduce the body levels of interleukin, which is a pro-inflammatory component, connected to diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis.



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