Body pain is relentless. Whether it’s the primary or secondary source of discomfort it will permeate every aspect of daily life.
Pain changes how you stand, how you move, how you balance, how you hold yourself around you core, your attitude towards activity, how you interact with others, how you eat and digest. Pain impairs your immunity and repair systems and interferes with your ability to sleep and rest well.
The brain focuses on pain. Once the brain focuses on the pain, the nervous system starts to make changes to avoid the pain by moving in a way that protects the horse from making it worse. These compensation patterns cause gait changes that affect the entire body and brain. The longer the compensation patterns occur, the more ingrained they become. These compensation patterns create soreness in new areas as muscles are recruited to perform other jobs, joints are torque by the un-natural posture and feet come to the ground in a distorted way.
And so the cycle goes over and over and over and over. Whatever you can do to break the pain cycle is good.
Massage is an effective, natural way to interrupt, not cover or hide, the pain. It gives the horse’s body a chance to reset in a healthier place, a place where it’s own body is better able to handle daily life and stressors.
Massage can help alleviate compensation patterns that create torque in joints and strain on muscles, tendons, ligaments and feet.
Massage can release muscle tension, fascial adhesions and trigger points. It supples muscles and skin, frees painful nerves, increases range of motion and brings balance back to the body.
Massage techniques with different frequencies, amplitudes and intensities stimulate the mechanoreceptors help improve the horse’s proprioception and improve balance and athleticism.
Massage can speed healing by bringing hydration, circulation and nutrients to muscles and fascia, and boosts the immune system by increasing levels of white blood cells which attack viruses and bacteria.
Massage releases endorphins which act as a natural analgesic helping to relieve fascial pain, muscle soreness and other discomforts.
Massage releases the hormone oxytocin, bringing feelings of well-being and comfort, increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, which help relieve anxiety and stress caused by the pain.
Pressure receptors stimulated by massage signal the vagus nerve to calm the nervous system. Regular massage can retrain the body to move more readily into the parasympathetic state, the state in which the body is able to relax, digest and repair. This can be especially helpful when a horse has been holding pain for quite a while.
A full-body massage can improve digestion by stimulating the motion of the intestine, and its contents, to move along and helps the body increase the release of enzymes essential for healthy digestion.
Massage can be very beneficial for your horse.