Massage enables an injured animal to harness its innate resources and capabilities, thereby speeding recovery and correction of a range of physical deficiencies and emotional challenges.
When skin receptors are stimulated they transmit messages to the brain. Once the brain receives these messages it initiates the production of chemicals that feed major body systems such as the blood, muscles, nerve cells, tissues, and organs.
Massage is a vehicle that stimulates these skin receptors and releases the chemicals necessary for the body's optimum performance.
Below are just a few ways that massage can increase the health and performance of your horse or dog:
- It dilates blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more freely, which in turn encourages the removal of waste products such as lymph and lactic acid.
- Massage stimulates blood circulation, and can be used to positively affect the health of animals whose activity has been curtailed. Situations include stall rest and being restricted to a boarding kennel.
- Because massage encourages circulation, it increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the bone and soft tissues.
- Prior to intense activity, massage can help warm up the muscles (which helps to prevent injury) and increase focus on the job at hand.
- After training or performing it helps to cool the animal down and aids in the prevention of lactic acid build-up that results in sore muscles.
- Blows, strains or wounds can cause fibrous tissue adhesions beneath the skin, which can impede the proper movement of muscles. These can be reduced by massage.
- It is a highly effective diagnostic tool. Areas of muscle tension, swelling and growths can be easily detected.
- For developing animals massage is useful in stimulating the flow of blood to the bones, thereby nourishing the skeletal system.
- It has been shown to reduce the output of ACTH (the stress hormone) and consequently aids in developing a resistance to infection in later life.
- In the young animal it has been shown to promote the development of nerve pathways in the cortex and subcortex of the brain, which can result in an increased rate of learning.