Massage. Love a rub or just rubbish?
Of course it's not rubbish! If used in the right way for the right reasons massage can benefit numerous conditions! That said, like any physiotherapy treatment it really should be used alongside other forms of interventions in order to maximise patient outcomes.
In the field of rehabilitation, massage describes the manipulation of soft tissues of the body for therapeutic benefit. Massage can have immediate effects on a patient (dog, horse, person) but in some circumstances may need to be undertaken over a period of time in regular treatment sessions. In the early stages of treatment, massage may help to reduce pain, tension, spasm and swelling. For more chronic or long-standing problems massage can be useful to address compensatory problems that may have come about due to postural and gait adaptations or simply through the body's protective mechanisms of avoiding painful postures or movements. It can also be useful for performance and competitive animals to aid recovery.
It isn't just about improving physical condition that massage can be used for though. There is a body of evidence that details how the body, mind and emotions all interact with the nervous system and when it is stimulated (by touching the skin) messages are thought to be sent to the brain initiating a reduction in stress hormones as well as releasing endorphins (the body's natural pain relievers) which is thought to have significant benefits on well-being. This effect is again not just limited to people but can be extended to our 4 legged friends as well. Often animals can present as stressed or anxious; particularly if seen in a clinical environment as opposed to their own home or stable, making massage a good treatment choice in this situation as well.
Please do be aware that massage can be contraindicated in certain situations so please contact a professional before trying to do it yourself!
To find out more information or to see if your animal may benefit from massage and other physiotherapy treatments please get in touch!