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.