The Concept of Prehabilitation

Prehabilitation is a concept used on equine athletes around the world. It’s one goal: To prevent injuries.

Prehabilitation is all about developing a horse that can better resist the “stress factor” – this could be preparing the horse for an upcoming sports event like a competition, or it could apply to daily training or even to reduce the affects of aging. Prehab can be many different things and includes core strengthening, gait training, cross training, good foot care and nutrition, tack that fits well and massage. The exact form it takes will depend on a number of factors, including the individual horse and rider’s needs, goals, age, training and history.

Massage therapy is a large part of a solid prehab program. Regular massage sessions help to resolve any underlying issues and can alleviate aches and pains before they become something serious. Massage increases muscle pliability and corrects muscle imbalance and joint alignment. Massage improves movement pattern efficiency and power and static and dynamic posture. Massage improves self-awareness and muscle control. Regular massage has been shown to restore balance between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system readies the body for “fight or flight”, operating when the horse feels anxiety. The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body’s ability to relax, digest and repair. Massage can retrain the body to move more readily into PSNS which can be especially helpful for high strung or spooky horses.

Prehab incorporating massage is a proactive approach to exercise recovery and injury prevention and is a vital component of maintaining a healthy horse, not only because it helps you achieve your training goals but because it will help keep your horse healthy, safe and functionally active for longer.

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