Monthly Archives: March 2014

Since the Dawn of Time

The body is a complex network of muscle, soft tissue, and nerves that communicate with each other. Creating positive change in the external surface of the body has long been used to positively influence the internal organs. A disruption, injury, or imbalance in the soft tissue can lead to imbalance in other parts of the body.

Every body experiences injury to the muscles, bones, and fascia (connective tissue) during a lifetime. In severe cases, medication may be necessary to treat extreme pain, but in many cases, the body can be stimulated to heal itself. Body work can improve circulation and lymph flow, allowing the tissues to recover from injury. Massage helps immune cells fight inflammation and infection. Decreasing stress through massage can improve health in many ways.

There is no one system of massage or body work that I automatically use on every animal. Healing has to occur on many levels, including diet and nutrition, cold laser therapy, acupressure, myofascial release, and different types of massage. It is my challenge and inspiration to explore each individual and it’s needs.


How to Create a Happy Horse

With or without exercise, different areas of the body tend to get tight. Just as you ensure your truck and trailer are well maintained in order to run smoothly and lower the probability of a possible breakdown, the same philosophy must be applied to your horse.

The amount of stress and fatigue that a horse experiences at a horse show (both in travel to and from, and competing) is astronomical. Without proper maintenance, these points of stress and soreness can turn into chronic injuries.


Myofascial release and sports massage can give you a horse that will be able to perform for the long haul, but can also help create a more well-balanced horse mentally and emotionally. When the body is balanced and pain free, the horse has more confidence going into the ring or start box.  Horses are sensitive creatures, and often when they seem to react violently for no reason, are doing so because of some pain in their tissues.

Through observing a horse’s gait, how they stand, how they move, etc., a massage therapist can determine what needs to be treated.  If a horse reacts when a saddle is being put on, or favors one lead more than the other, it is a sign that something is out of alignment. When total balance is achieved, the horse’s health and well-being becomes the norm and you will once again have a happy animal that is eager to do its job.


Are You Confused by Cold Laser Therapy?

Join the club!

Whenever a treatment is not fully understood, there are skeptics. It is good to be skeptical, but an open mind helps too!

Cold lasers do not generate heat. The FDA has approved the technique, and studies have shown it to be an effective short term treatment for pain. However, there are still questions regarding how and why the therapy works.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that low level laser therapy helps relieve pain, sometimes in instances where other methods of pain relief have not worked.

The range of options for treatment have caused some questions, as LLLT can include a variety of wavelengths, intensities, number of treatments, and other variables. In simple terms, light causes a photochemical response in the cells, particularly the mitochondria. The same process can be observed in nature: photosynthesis is an example most people understand. LLLT causes a similar biological response within cells, creating a regenerative effect that is especially useful for treating pain caused by injury, or illness impacting the nervous system.

Cold lasers are non-invasive. They emit no heat, sound, or vibration, though some people report a tingling sensation when I use it on them. Sometimes nothing appears to be different or happening. Hot lasers, which destroy tissue, can clearly be observed. It’s easy to understand why skeptics argue that cold lasers are ineffective.

I have used my cold laser extensively on myself, family and friends, all with positive results. While the animals I use it on cannot report to me with language, their improvement in movement speaks for itself.



How Do You Get an Edge on the Competition?

Equestrians spend a lot of money on the latest improvements in tack, supplements, and training sessions, but one of the most cost effective ways to reduce injuries, speed up healing and recovery time,and increase circulation and blood flow is to have the right body work done on your performance horse.

Massage helps your horse recover from the last work out and get ready for the next one. Massage prior to an exercise routine should be part of your warm-up. It allows for a freer range of motion. There are so many benefits to sports massage: it can relieve pain, help in rehabbing from an injury, reduce stress, increase relaxation, and ease the aches and pains that come from travel to shows. Body work can become your secret weapon. I see it all the time!




Is Your Horse Holding Tension Patterns?

Fascia surrounds, supports, and penetrates all of the muscles, bones, and organs throughout the body. This net of fascia is the body’s internal system of flexible support, and gives strength and shape to the body. The fascial system responds to injury, chronic tension, and habitual movement patterns by shortening and thickening, thereby locking in unhealthy patterns of strain, and pulling the body out of alignment.

Structural Integration works systematically to release areas of tension and restore flexibility in the body. It literally changes the shape of the body, sometimes quite dramatically. While working on a horse I often will step back, and every time I am amazed at the visual change in the outline of the horse. The back comes up; the neck rises out of the withers gracefully; the horse stands more balanced. It is one of the reasons I am so passionate about this work.

After a session of structural integration, the body should feel lighter, energized, and balanced. Breathing capacity will be greater, range of motion will increase along with ease and fluidity of movement, and the body will be more resilient to injury.

Dr. Rolf, the founder of Rolfing, or Structural Integration,  believed yoga was the best exercise system ever devised if done with the right teacher. She also believed that hands-on manipulation was needed to fully free the structure and to achieve ultimate length and separation in the joints.


Peroneus Tertius Muscle

I was called to work on a horse that had a mystery lameness in the hind leg. The chiropractor and farrier were both puzzled by the discomfort the horse was demonstrating. He looked very stiff in the hock area, and I wondered if maybe he needed hock injections, as he is in his teens.  I found an area of tightness and proceeded to work gently, as the horse flinched when I touched the muscle, which is the peroneus tertius.

This muscle extends the hock and flexes the stifle simultaneously. After a few minutes of massage and cross fiber friction, I had the owner walk him out. He looked better, and I did another round of deep pressure massage. This muscle is very stringy and tendinous, so can easily become tight. It is not naturally a pliable spot on the horse. Massage in the area of the peroneus tertius and gastricnemius is good insurance against such a build up of tightening and stress that a rupture is unavoidable.

The owner has reported that her gelding is moving normally and returning to light work. I will be returning for another treatment very soon, as this is an area that takes several sessions to improve.


There Are So Many Uses for the Cold Laser!

Low Level Laser Therapy uses light at a wavelength that the cells of the body are receptive to. The light is absorbed and energy production is increased, speeding up the healing process,and increasing the quality of the repair.

Facial pain, trapped nerves, Achilles tendonitis, muscle fatigue, Lymphedema (also known as lymphatic obstruction, a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling), chronic low back pain, to name a few, have been treated successfully with LLLT/Cold Laser Therapy.

There have been many clinical trials proving the effectiveness of cold laser therapy. Neck pain and whiplash, normally difficult to successfully resolve due to the sensitivity of the area, has a positive outcome with LLLT, as does sciatica and pain felt under the shoulder blade. The evidence for Age Related Macular disease (AMD) and stroke is rapidly emerging, and clinical trials are planned for Parkinson`s and Alzheimer’s.

The wonderful thing about the laser is it can do no harm if used correctly. If you or your horse has pain or soreness at a horse show, ask me to use the cold laser on the painful area. At a CIC or CCI I often use the laser on all the joints of the horses’ legs before the jog and after cross country.

With Laser Therapy you can heal and relieve pain, heal muscle, tendon and ligament injuries, ease inflammation and swelling, treat wounds, and so much more!


Relieving Pain and Restoring Range of Motion

Most bodies start off life using all muscles in a correct and efficient way. As injuries and overuse pile up, the body compensates by using less appropriate muscles. Eventually, compensations become patterns. The body may try several compensations before it runs out of options. At that point pain and weakness develop.

Pain is a poor guide for proper muscle use. Pain will lead the body down the wrong path! Correct body work, such as Trigger Point and Stress Point therapy, can lead the body towards health, and away from pain.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. The body, whether human or animal,  can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment.

I highly recommend that horses are put on a regular schedule of massage treatments in order to help prevent injuries and keep muscles soft and supple.


Massage Clears Waste From the System

If you have been reading here for a while, you know that massage therapy can improve circulation, release stress and trigger points, release tight fascia, relieve pain, and improve movement and performance. But did you know that massage can release toxins that are stored in tight muscles?

If you or your horse seems unusually fatigued for no good reason, consider that tight muscles can actually cause flu-like symptoms and pain. Drinking lots of water after a massage (often during or after a body work session, a horse will drink a lot of water) will help flush waste from muscles while carrying nutrients necessary for rebuilding.

When muscles are stressed, they block oxygen and nutrients, leading to inflammation that builds up toxins in the muscle tissue. A deep-tissue massage helps loosen muscle tissues, releasing toxins from muscles, and helps blood and oxygen circulate properly.


Massage for Pain Relief and More

Bodies are designed to move. In modern Western society, humans and animals spend much of their time in the same static position. Horses stand in stalls or paddocks. Humans sit at desks or in cars. Children sit at desks in school.

Movement or exercise raises the level of endorphins (natural painkillers) and reduces inflammation in the body. Working muscles improves circulation and removes toxins from tissues.

Often pain will make an animal or person fearful of moving their bodies. But without movement, the body won’t get better. There is a difference between the achy soreness that is felt after a workout to get back in shape, and pain. Some soreness is normal and healthy when rebuilding muscles. Owners, trainers, and riders need to be very tuned in to their horses to protect them from re-injury.

The healing power of massage is so apparent that just about every culture in history has used massage to relieve pain. Massage faded into the background with the arrival of modern medicine, but is on the rise as a valuable tool. Massage may also change the way the brain senses pain. As Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky has said, sensations of a good massage can temporarily make the brain forget about other aches. The relief experienced after body work will help attitude and ability to focus, which can affect behavior, training, and performance.


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