Tag Archives: lactic acid

How Can My Horse (and Myself) Perform the Best?

The process of participating in sports and getting a body conditioned strains muscles and tendons even when no injury is present. The simplest way to relieve this strain is through myofascial release.

Fascia is a specialized connective tissue layer surrounding muscles, bones, and joints, and gives support and protection to the body. It consists of three layers – the superficial fascia, the deep fascia and the sub serous fascia. Fascia is one of the 3 types of dense connective tissue (the others being ligaments and tendons) and it extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.

The fascia, or soft connective tissue that surrounds muscles, is stretched and made supple during performance enhancing massage. The massage increases blood flow and spreads muscle fibers that have been squeezed together. Both processes can help repair micro-tears and prevent further injury.

Myofascial release can be done before exercise to release any knots so the muscles can work properly. Afterward, massage can push out some of the waste product (lactic acid), for example, to prevent common muscle soreness.

MFR PR photo

Do You Have an OTTB?

When you buy an off the track Thoroughbred, you can be sure you are getting a horse with speed and stamina, even if the horse was not a winner on the track.

Thoroughbreds to have long and lean muscles and tendons. The two stress points that I find the most on horses coming from the track are in the neck and around the sacrum. Some horses have had lactic acid build-up and are sore all over.

It is a good idea to give your horse a session of Stress Point Therapy and relaxation massage before beginning his new career.

How do I condition my event horse?

I received this question, the first in the Ask a Question on Monday series,which I will attempt to answer from my point of view as an equine massage therapist, not a trainer. The question is from a rider who is aiming to compete at the 2 star level this season:

“I was wondering if you could explain the correct process of building a proper baseline of fitness in an event horse before starting with the fast-paced gallop sets when conditioning for competitions.”

I met Jack Le Goff at Malcolm Hook’s, our very popular event announcer, in the 1990’s, as he often gave clinics there. Jack developed the science of interval training for 3 day horses.

When a horse is fit, the heart and lungs carry blood and oxygen to the muscles. Oxygen converts into lactic acid that is then used for energy.( This is a simplified description.) When there is not enough oxygen getting to the muscles, the muscles tire ,which puts stress on the attached ligaments, and puts the equine athlete at risk for injury. In my work, I do all I can to keep muscles and ligaments stress free, but the rider needs to monitor their equine athlete’s temperature, pulse, and respiration rates.

Interval training is used to challenge the horse’s cardiovascular system by asking it to do bursts of speed, followed by periods of cool-down to allow the heart rate to return to slightly above normal before starting out again. Keep a chart! It takes at least 6 weeks to build up before galloping sets can be started. Whole books have been written on this subject, so rather than trying to get into specifics here, I would suggest you read more on the subject:




Thanks for opening up this very huge topic! I will be at April Twin Rivers and May Woodside to start the competition season,  so feel free to find me there, email me here,  ask questions, schedule body work or cold laser, etc.


Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is produced in the muscles when there is a lack of oxygen. When lactic acid levels rise, muscles lose strength. A horse in good condition will pump oxygen to the muscles more effectively than a horse not quite fit enough for the job at hand. But the techniques used in Sportsmassage: spreading muscle fibers so as to increase the space that capillaries need to function properly, also helps prevent lactic acid build up by  increasing the muscles’ capacity to oxygenate.

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