A stress point is a muscle spasm, or knot. Where muscles attach to the bone, they are less elastic as they mix with tendonous fibers. Because they are less flexible stress, there is more stress during strenuous activity.
All movement is achieved by muscles shortening. Muscles pull; they never push. The greatest strain occurs when a muscle is fully extended. The tighter and shorter the muscle, the more strain will be placed at the attachment.
During cool down, muscles call for more blood, and therefore are more likely to spasm. These spasms will not respond to electro-magnetic currents, heat, ice. They need to be manually treated with direct pressure from fingers. That is the beauty of stress point therapy!
There are more than 3,000 positive studies and 300 randomized double blinded clinical trials proving the benefits of cold laser therapy!
The benefits of laser therapy can’t be overstated. It not only hastens healing, it actually improves the way tissue repairs and renews itself.
In post-operative patients, laser treatments reduce the risk of complications.
Lasers can reverse muscle atrophy and improve tendon and ligament strength and resilience. Range of motion, function, flexibility and mobility are all enhanced. In addition, the probability of re-injury is significantly less. Pets get back on their feet and return to normal activities faster.Patients don’t need to be sedated. No drugs are involved; there are no IV lines and no invasive clipping of hair or cutting into the skin.Laser therapy treatments are cumulative, meaning each treatment builds on prior treatments and the animal’s condition improves continuously.
When combined with stress point and trigger point release through deep tissue massage, mobility and health can be restored. This combination of holistic therapies can be used on horses, humans, dogs, etc.
Most tears and strain injuries are the result of tightness that has been accumulating over a period of time. Structural integration, also known as rolfing, or stress point therapy, is one of the best ways to prevent these injuries from occurring in the first place. Good horse owners regularly inspect the health of their horses’ tendons, but the tendons do not operate in isolation. Tight muscles that are an extension of those tendons are where the elasticity of the system exist. (tendons contain approximately 10% elasticity, and muscles the other 90%!). Once a muscle is tight, other muscles become tight as well, and the stress is passed along the body. Everything is connected!
So what should you do? Some will try applying heat. Heat does not penetrate further than an 1/8 of an inch through the skin, and then the blood that is circulating carries the heat away.
Muscles relaxers can relax muscle mass, but they travel through the central nervous system and are not accurate.
Applying ice is more effective. When ice is applied, the body rushes blood to the chilled area and the additional circulation is beneficial. But there are many places on the body where ice is not a good idea (such as the back of a horse).
So what is the answer? Direct pressure accurately applied to a spasm or knot is the most effective method of releasing a tight muscle. This is the basis of stress point therapy or structural integration.
A muscle running parallel to the semitendinosus is the semimembranosus. This muscle attaches near the side of the tail and inserts into the femur. It is used to extend the hip and stifle. I always check this muscle when I see the tail being held stiffly to one side, or when there is a loss of range of motion in the hind leg, or when the horse struggles with lateral movement. If this stress point is tight, there is great danger of a strain or tear to the hamstring or inner thigh. Many of the event horses that I work on seem prone to tightness in this area. Once injured, it is very susceptible to re-injury, so again, prevention is key. Stress point therapy, or structural integration, can help avoid disaster.
Most people believe that with a proper warmup, muscles will be loose and ready to perform at optimum athletic ability. But a warmup is just that: it raises the temperature of muscles. It does not remove existing spasms, or help muscles stretch. Massage done before the athletic challenge makes sure that every muscle fiber can be used without injury or soreness afterwards. Proper sports massage, or structural integration, makes sure all muscles are pliable and areas of overload are relieved. All massage increases circulation, but the type of deep tissue massage that I prefer before a competition, spreads muscle fibers so that each muscle can perform in complete free motion.