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Equine Massage is for Full Body Function

Equine Massage is for Full Body Function

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Quote is from Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain by Donna and Steven Finando

 

On this blog I often talk about individual muscles of the horse, and their function. However, muscles are mostly arranged and function in groups. They wrap around each other, share fascia and points of insertion and origin.

Muscles must work together to control movement: as one muscle, the agonist, initiates movement by contracting, the antagonist relaxes, allowing the stretch into the motion. Then the two muscle types switch actions to allow the opposite motion.

Sometimes when I massage a client, I am not sure which muscle is causing a problem. For instance, the trapezius muscles lies on top of the rhomboid. I might suspect the issue I’m seeing in the horse is in the rhomboid, but the massage I do will work on both muscles. Without x-ray vision, I might never know exactly which muscle was in spasm, but I will feel and see the effects of the release.

Massage gives muscles the best possible opportunity to function fully and freely.

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Why Body Balancing is Crucial

Chronic shortening in any muscle fiber of a flexor (agonist) muscle forces the pairing muscle (the antagoist) must maintain a constant counter-balancing tension to prevent unwanted movement. The body might look like it is at rest, but the muscles are working constantly. Pain and muscle fatigue are the result.

In order for muscles to rest, they must be balanced and free of tension and spasms. When spasms, trigger points, and stress points are released, energy and vitality return to the body. Any repeated posture or movement can shorten muscle fibers if the body is not properly balanced. Appropriate massage allows muscles to be reactivated to function at full capacity.

Do You Want a “Hard Body”?

Fitness programs, and our society, are obsessed with obtaining a hard body. Is that really the best thing for humans and horses?

Hard muscles are shortened muscles. True strength is found not in hardening, but in elasticity and resilience.

Hardened muscles are slower to react. Supple muscles can lengthen and shorten much more quickly than thick, hard muscle layers.

Hard muscles tire more quickly than balanced, “buttery” muscles.

Muscles work in pairs (agonist and antagonist) to create motion. When one muscle is over developed, smooth function is impossible. Equal tone in pairs of muscles create well-balanced action.

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