by Laura Allen of Canter Care Equine Sports Massage Therapy
What is equine sports massage?
Equine sports massage is the therapeutic application of massage techniques developed and used by human athletes applied to the horse. Sports massage differs from other forms because it focuses on the cause of muscle injury with the intent to relieve muscle pain and prevent further muscle injury. It has been credited with increasing performance level, competitiveness, and endurance. In addition, massage assists in the prevention of debilitating muscular injuries and in speeding injury recovery time. Depending on the horse's discipline, there will be more (or less) stress on different muscle groups, much like humans in various sports.
How does massage help?
There are many great reasons to get a massage for your horse. The benefits are similar for horses as with people, including but not limited to relaxation, improved athletic performance, and alleviation of muscle pain. A full body equine massage helps balance the body by treating it as a whole instead of just individual parts. Muscle pain is relieved by reducing inflammation and swelling in joints, muscle tone is improved, and range of motion is increased. During stall rest, massages can promote healing by increasing the flow of nutrients to muscles and carrying away excess fluids and toxins. Stimulating circulation through massage can also release endorphins, which act as natural pain killers.
Can all horses be massaged?
The short answer is yes! Only those suffering from an infection or illness or those with an injury where massage would be contraindicated are not good candidates for massage. Horses of all ages are excellent candidates. Equine sports massage can also be done before or after exercise. A pre-event massage loosens, warms, and readies the muscles for work. A post-event massage can relieve muscle stiffness and pain by returning muscles to a normal state more quickly than without massage.
Interested in treating your horse to a massage? Canter Care Equine Sports Massage Therapy offers these services!