Muscle fatigue results in a decrease in athletic ability. It is a normal consequence of exercise at high intensity or for prolonged periods of time. Fatigue actually protects muscles from damage.
How does fatigue manifest itself? Change in gait, stride length, and speed can all occur.
Electrolyte imbalance may also play a role in fatigue. During intense exercise water moves into muscle cells and concentrations of potassium decrease, decreasing the strength of the muscle contractions.
Intense training over many weeks can result in a form of chronic fatigue. This over training causes decreased performance which, oddly, is not reversed by a couple of weeks of rest. Massage and a high quality diet can turn this syndrome around.
Temperature and humidity have a huge impact on the degree of disturbance to muscle during exercise.
Sports massage can counteract many of the negative symptoms of muscle fatigue: before the event, massage can warm up the muscles. After the event, soreness can be minimized. The benefits are numerous:
Decreases muscular / skeletal pain
Improves quality of movement
Reduces risk of injury
Improves blood circulation
Prevents future injuries
Enhances muscle tone
Increases range of motion
Eases muscle spasms
Reduces inflammation and swelling
Hastens elimination of waste products and toxins
Lengthens connective tissues
Breaks down adhesions
Creates synovial fluid in joints from increased circulation
Boosts performance and endurance
Extends the overall life of the horse