Exercise Creates Inflammation, Massage Reduces Inflammation

When your horse has a challenging exercise session, the fibers in their muscles micro tear – it’s the healing of these micro tears that causes their muscles to grow. These micro tears also cause the soreness and inflammation your horse experiences after a tough work.

Inflammation is a normal and natural response to injury. It creates a cushion around the healing tissues and can help protect the horse from potential infection.

Inflammation also creates pain by pressing on nerves. Too much inflammation can actually damage the cells, nerves and tissues and will also result in a decrease of fascial glide, increasing the experience of pain. Lack of free movement between tissues (rather than a strain within a muscle or tendon) is often the cause of work out related myofascial pain.

Massages can reduce inflammation to ease soreness, prevent further injury and improve tissue glide. They can also help down regulate the stress response resulting in a reduction in the experience of pain. This happens through both physical and chemical mechanisms.

Physically the massage warms, lengthens and supples your horse’s muscles, working out knots, kinks and adhesions caused by exercise and muscle building. Swedish style massage is recommended over deep tissue as anything too intense could potentially cause more damage and inflammation to the muscles.

The physical mechanism for reducing inflammation comes from the soothing pressure and release of the massage. The new blood brings nourishment to speed up the time it takes for muscles to heal and helps flush out stagnant fluid and damaged tissue. Massage increases the production of mitochondria, the organelles of cells responsible for powering the production of ATP in cellular metabolism. More mitochondria lead to more ATP, which means increased energy to heal.

Chemically, the massage stimulates the production of cytokines, chemical messengers that work for the immune system to regulate things like fever, pain, and inflammation. Massage releases endorphins that cause your horse to relax physically and mentally and reduce body soreness.

Massage can help your horse recover from exercise, micro tears and inflammation faster while helping to build stronger, more supple muscles.

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