Why Hands On Massage Is The Best Way To Care For Sore Muscles

I often see people posting about their horse having muscle knots and being muscle sore, talking about having the chiropractor out, Pemf and red light, kt tape, vet’s been out and still the horse is not better, why?

My question is; why are you doing everything you can think of to help your horse feel better EXCEPT the one thing that actually addresses those sore, tight muscles directly?!

Other therapies are NOT stand-ins or substitutes for massage – they do different things for the horse.

Massage is the only one of these therapies that physically manipulates the muscles, fascia and skin to ease tight, sore muscles lengthen and supple myofascia, free painful nerves, improve circulation, increase range of motion and bring balance and biotensegrity back to the body to improve performance and soundness.

An equine massage therapist uses their hands to feel and carefully manipulate the soft tissues to work out tension, knots, kinks and adhesions. Massage manually opens myofascial tissue, softening, stretching, balancing tension, improving range of motion and freedom of movement of muscle, fascia, joints and skin.

Massage speeds muscle healing. The micro tears and trigger points caused by exercise and building muscles heal faster, stronger and with a healthier range of motion when your horse receives regular massage sessions.

Tight, tense and fatigued muscles increase the risk of tendon injuries. Tendons are an extension of the muscle and anchor the muscle to the bone. If the muscle is impaired, the tendon will also be, which greatly raises the risk of injury. Massage can improve the health and function of the muscles and tendons to help ward off injuries.

Massage techniques with different frequencies, amplitudes and intensities can improve athleticism by stimulating the mechanoreceptors and improving the horse’s proprioception (awareness of position) and kinesthesia (movement in the body), helpful when improving the horse’s overall athleticism. This will also help stimulate healing if the horse has suffered a neurological insult.

Massage physically stimulates weak and inactive muscles to help bring them back into action.

Pain and tension interfere with the body’s ability to recover from illness or injury and will extend recovery time. Many veterinarians have begun to incorporate massage therapy into their recovery protocols as an effective, natural way to aid in pain regulation and recovery for both acute and chronic issues. Equine Massage therapists are trained to work on soft tissues to alleviate pain and improve the body’s ability to heal itself.

Massage physically pumps and presses circulation into congested areas, opening them to better nourishment, oxygenation and hydration all of which optimize healing and healthy tissue development and performance.

Massage increases the production of mitochondria, responsible for powering the production of ATP in cellular metabolism. More mitochondria lead to more ATP, which means increased energy to heal. Massage also increases levels of white blood cells which attack viruses and bacteria.

Massage increases the production of cytokines, chemical messengers that work for the immune system to regulate things like fever, pain and inflammation.

Massage releases endorphins which act as a natural analgesic helping to relieve headaches, myofascial pain, muscle soreness, TMJ, and other discomforts and a lasting sense of well-being.

A full-body massage can improve digestion by increasing the release of enzymes essential for healthy digestion and stimulating the motion of the intestine, and its contents, to move along.

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 for high strung, spooky or recovering horses.

Massage is one of, if not the, most effective muscle and myofascial therapies available and it can be customized to meet each horse’s physical needs. Leaving it out of your regular care and exercise routine leaves a huge hole and a missed opportunity.

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