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 muscles to grow. These micro tears also cause the soreness and inflammation your horse experiences after a tough work.
Massage will help your horse’s muscles heal from these micro tears and become stronger, and fitter, faster.
Massage facilitates circulation by breaking up congested areas, pressing out damaged tissue and lymph and then allowing a flush of fresh blood back in with the release of pressure.
This increase in blood flow to muscle tissue feeds their cells both oxygen and nutrients. This nourishment speeds up the time it takes for their muscles to heal.
Massage also 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.
Inflammation and Repair
When an injury occurs, your horse’s body uses inflammation as a defense mechanism. It creates a cushion around the healing tissues and serves as a wall to keep foreign invaders from taking advantage of the opportunity to infect.
This inflammation also creates pain as it presses on the nerves. Moreover, too much inflammation can actually damages the cells, nerves and tissues.
Massages can reduce inflammation to ease soreness and prevent further injury.
The physical mechanism for reducing inflammation comes from the soothing pressure and release of the massage. The new blood pushing through their arteries and veins also moves stagnant fluid through the body.
Chemically, the massage creates the production of cytokines, chemical messengers that work for the immune system to regulate things like fever, pain, and inflammation. Endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are also released, leaving your horse with less soreness and a sense of well-being.
Stretching and Tension Release
Massage works out knots, kinks and adhesions caused by exercise and muscle building. This happens through both physical and chemical mechanisms.
Physically the massage warms, lengthens and supples your horse’s muscles. Swedish style massage is recommended over deep tissue as anything too intense could potentially cause more damage and inflammation to the muscles.
Chemically massage releases endorphins that cause your horse to relax tension and feel less soreness post work out.
Massage can help your horse recover from exercise faster while helping to build stronger, more supple muscles.
* In a recent study researchers put 11 young, healthy men through a strenuous workout—the kind that’s almost too hard to finish. To see the effects of massage on muscles, they took muscle biopsies of both legs—before and after exercise, and after 10 minutes of Swedish-style massage. The massage was given right after the workout. The brief massage affected two specific genes in the muscle cells. The first gene decreases inflammation caused by exercise, similar to the relief you get from certain pain medications. The second gene turned up production of mitochondria in the muscles. These are the power houses of cells. They use oxygen and nutrients to generate energy needed by the cells. As muscle cells become adapted to endurance exercise, the number of mitochondria increases. Massage seems to help this process along. Other studies have shown that treatments for sore muscles—such as ice baths and anti-inflammatory medications—can reduce inflammation, however, these tend to block muscle repair and growth. Massage, appears to not only make you feel better but also to speed up muscle recovery.
* Massages feel good, but do they actually speed muscle recovery? Turns out, they do. Scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences applied precise, repeated forces to injured mouse leg muscles and found that they recovered stronger and faster than untreated muscles, likely because the compression squeezed inflammation causing cells out of the muscle tissue and by creating heat, expanding capillaries, increased circulation and delivery of nutrients.