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Introduction to Massage

An introduction to Massage for horses

Animal physiotherapy including Massage and Magnetic therapies has become popular for the maintenance of the musculoskeletal system in recent years.

Massage, essentially the manipulation of soft tissues, has been noted to aid the prevention of injury, recovery from fatigue, relaxation and increasing mobility. (Hemmings, 2001). Performance depends on freedom of movement, full flexibility and an absence of musculoskeletal pain, all of which can improve with massage (Gellman, 1998). Traditionally massage methods have been manual but with recent advances in technology, electrical modalities have been introduced.

The Benefits Massage

Massage has been shown to improve flexibility and promote relaxation in horses. Tension is often one of the most common reasons for poor performance in horses and by increasing relaxation and improving back flexibility; the negative effects of tension can be reduced. Like us, most horses can benefit from a massage session but maintaining a healthy back through massage can help prevent performance inhibitors such as stiffness, hollowness, shortened stride length, or in more serious cases napping, bucking and rearing.

Massage stimulates blood flow to the area treated and has a similar effect to the tissue as heat does ie. promoting vasodilatation. Vasodilatation increases blood flow; bringing with it increased oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscle and after exercise this can help with the removal of toxins such as lactic acid.

When to use Massage

  • For horses on box rest to promote blood flow
  • After exercise to help with toxin removal
  • Before exercise as part of warm up
  • At a show to help recover from travelling
  • On your horses day off as part of a maintenance programme
  • Anytime as a reward