Tag Archives: circulation

The Joy of Laser

Many of you have heard of Laser surgery where light is used to cut tissue. Laser technology has progressed from the extreme application of burning and cutting to the approach I can now use with my equipment.

Simply stated, laser light can be used to energize living cells. Using correct protocols for individual conditions, cold laser therapy can produce dramatic changes to tissue.

Laser irradiation has an anti-inflammatory effect on tissue. Blood vessels dilate, which increases circulation. Pain receptor activity is suppressed; endorphin release is increased, and the metabolism within each cell is increased.

Cold laser therapy (also called soft laser) activates the production of immune cells. New capillaries are formed, which is essential for quick wound healing. At the same time, the fibrous tissue of scar tissue is reduced. Nerve cells are repaired, minimizing or eliminating the numbness of a major injury or wound.

And all these benefits are achieved without side effects. No drugs. No over the counter medicines. Lasers are safe and work quickly.


What is the Function of the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system fights disease bearing organisms. Most people are familiar with the body’s vessel system that carries blood to and from the tissues, but few understand there is another equally vital system of vessels that removes cell wastes, proteins, excess fluid, viruses, and bacteria. The lymph system picks up fluids and waste products from the spaces between the cells and then filters and cleans them.  Massage can influence this lymphatic flow.  Pathways in the lymphatic system drain waste and toxic substances that might cause swelling or other health problems. When toxins build up in cells, and proteins accumulate, tissues fail to regenerate properly and healing becomes compromised. If fluid is blocked, activating fluid movement through massage will improve health.

After a sports injury or surgery, lymph vessels can become overwhelmed with the demand placed on them. Lymphatic massage can help the body remove proteins and waste products from the affected area and reduce the swelling. This helps reduce pressure on cells and allows them to reproduce faster to heal the body. Combining massage with cold laser therapy can have a powerful impact on the body’s ability to heal.


The Fine Art of Healing Through Touch

Since the rise of modern medicine, the art of touch and palpation have been very much overlooked in the training of health professionals in favor of other “more advanced” diagnostic tests. Palpation of the muscles, tendons, and fascia is a fine art. Touch is extremely effective in determining the extent of a clients’ pain (both animal and human) and in treating and resolving pain.

Through touch I can feel what is a normal, supple muscle and what muscle is tight and constricted. I can feel places where fascia is pulled tight and causing pain and restricted movement. My hands feel the alignment of the spine and places where the skin is cold (restricted circulation). Every horse and dog trains me to be more aware with my hands.

In Japan, the holistic art of Shiatsu (similar to Stress and Trigger Point Therapy) has been practiced for 1500 years to release pain, prevent illness, and increase energy. It is also used to heal specific diseases and treat ailing organs. After World War II General MacArthur attempted to ban holistic practices such as Acupressure and Shiatsu completely in favor of modern allopathic medicine.

A knowledge of skeletal structure, muscle fiber direction, and function of each muscle is essential to put healing touch into practice. Knowledge and training of the hands allows massage therapists to contribute to overall health and athletic success.

Take a Few Minutes

After you ride and remove the saddle from your horse, take a few minutes to groom that area. The pressure from your weight and the saddle restricts circulation, no matter how light you are, or how well the saddle fits. Currying the area under the saddle pad will prevent sweat glands from getting blocked and forming bumps.

How You Can Prevent Injuries

Muscles that are used constantly become short and tight, making them less effective, easily exhausted, and at risk for injury. Massage, specifically for athletes, both equine and human, relaxes contracted muscles by manually spreading muscle fibers and increasing circulation. This allows muscles to function more effectively, with greater range of motion, which makes them less prone to injury. Stress Point Therapy, or Sports Massage, can virtually extend the athletic career.

Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic facilitation is a style of massage specifically aimed at reducing traumatic swelling. This massage was formulated to create systemic changes for increasing lymph flow, circulation,  and moving edema caused by athletic injuries.

Lymphatic massage, is a gentle form of massage that stimulates the lymphatic system to improve metabolism, promote the removal of bodily toxins, and encourages a healthy immune system. It is thought that lymphatic massage can also help prevent scarring by enhancing circulation.

The circulatory system has two parts: cardiovascular and lymphatic. Lymph nodes are a part of the vascular network, which gives them an important role in fluid return: the lymphatic system works to return fluid from the body back to the heart. The cardiovascular system pumps blood out to all areas of the body.

Lymphatic massage is used only to treat edema resulting from soft tissue injury. These include sprains, strains, and hemotomas. (Edema caused by illnesses is not a part of sports massage.) Treatment of swelling with ice only addresses the cardiovascular side of the equation.


What Kind of Massage Does Your Horse Need?

Here are the types of massage I offer:

– Swedish Massage: Used for relaxation, calming, and improving circulation.

– Sports Massage: To prevent injury, maintain flexibility, and rehabilitate from injury.

-Stimulation Massage: This is mostly used prior to competition to energize and warm up the muscles and increase circulation.

– Performance Enhancement Massage: loosens muscles, frees joints, increases suppleness.

-Structural Integration: balances muscles so joints can move properly. Releases stress points.

– Injury Prevention Massage: probably the most important! Massage on a regular basis can detect and resolve muscle imbalances before a problem develops. This can also help a stall bound horse improve circulation.

– Myofascial Release/ Trigger Point Massage: Releases tightness in connective tissue and the belly of the muscle (instead of the attachments to the bone as in Stress Point therapy)

Feel free to ask questions for clarification. I could talk about this all day, but am trying to keep these posts short so you don’t feel like you’re reading an entire book!

What Weighs the Most on Your Horse?

Muscles which move the bones are caused skeletal muscles, and account for a whopping 45% of your horses total body weight. These muscles, also called voluntary muscles, provide protection to the skeleton, as well as causing all movement. When healthy, the skeletal muscles have a good supply of blood vessels.  Massage, exercise, and proper nutrition are all ways to keep your horse happy,healthy,and pain free by ensuring a healthy blood supply to the muscles. An unhealthy muscle may atrophy, become inflamed,or harden (ossify). This is why prevention is so important!

Tendons are dense bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. Blood supply is less abundant in the tendon than in the belly of the muscle. Because of this, tendons are more likely to develop scar tissue when healing from an injury. A big part of my work is to make sure that tendons are free from tension.

Sports massage helps to keep muscles and tendons loose, keep circulation properly functioning, prevent stiffness, maintain flexibility, and also keep a happy attitude in your equine athlete.

After a Horse Show Weekend

Muscles that have worked very hard will often develop some inflammation. This is a normal process that helps new muscle fibers form. It is important that the inflammation is kept to a light degree, as intense inflammation will form scar tissue. After the show, use cold hosing, ice boots, deep massage, and cold laser. All will promote blood circulation which will bring healing oxygen to muscle fibers. A brisk rub with liniment (see side bar for Chapman’s, a homeopathic liniment that I like) will also stimulate circulation. Transfer Factor and supplements such as Vitamin C, E, and Selenium are also essential for keeping inflammation from free radicals under control.

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