Need For Massage
Massage for humans dates back many centuries. Its benefits speak for themselves and need no elaboration. Massage for animals only began gaining credence in the last 2 decades with the advent of alternative and holistic healthcare. Today, sports massage therapy techniques had changed and improved with times. It now plays an important part in prevention therapy and injury recovery.
At Kreature Care, our core focus is Sports Massage Therapy, developed by the Russians and first adopted by the U.S. Equestrian Team in the Summer Olympics of 1972. The therapy subsequently found its way into racetracks throughout the east and show barns throughout the country. Canine sports massage therapy was developed following the positive results in the equine market.
The essential difference between sports massage and other techniques is that SMT focuses on the cause of muscle injuries and muscle therapy. Sports massage is used universally as a pre-event, post-event and maintenance therapy for both humans and animals involved in athletic competition.
Massage therapy is gaining acceptance and support from veterinarians worldwide, not only because of its results, but also because of the increasing belief in the benefits of holistic treatment of medical problems. Many professionals had incorporated equine and canine SMT into their animals’ total health care regime to resolve any sports-related and accidental injuries.
There are no side effects for massage therapy as compared to giving medication over a long term.
Massage proved to be valuable in cases of:
- muscles and joints strengthening
- injuries and diseases
- old age ailments
- promoting general good health
- relief of tired and sore muscles
- correction of hereditary conditions
When does your animal need a massage?
- Post-operation Recuperation
- When they are old
- When they are born of certain breeds and have hereditary conditions which hamper growth
- Pre-event massage
- Post-event massage
Muscles are the workhorses of the body. When they are injured, pain and inflammation occurs. Chemical substances like histamines and lactic acid are released into muscle cells causing abnormal contraction, tension and spasms, which restricts normal free movement. Animals compensate by holding their bodies differently causing new stresses on their bones and joints. Eventually, unable to bear weight on the limbs, the animal will begin to limp. Subsequently, the animals will develop unnatural holding patterns as a result of the trauma or injuries suffered.
Emotional unbalances like fear could induce holding patterns too. Massage will help:
- Relax injured muscles and restore them to their original positions and elasticity.
- Restore proper movements.
- Provide relief and freedom from unnatural holding patterns and pain.
- Loosen and soften scar tissues.
- Eliminate behavioural problems resulting from fear and trauma.
- Expedite the healing process in between vet visits.
Arthritis and rheumatism are common in senior animals. Massage will:
- Reduce pain and muscle tension, eliminating need for potent drugs
- Decelerate the degenerative process
- Increase circulation, flexibility and muscle tone
- Prevent atrophy in inactive muscles
Unusual body conformations like the Dachshund's long body and short legs and the Great Dane's fast growth spurts, put stress on their spines, muscles, joints and legs. Hip dysplasia, spinal stress and other conditions could result, eventually reducing flexibility. Massage creates structural balance at vulnerable places where the vertebrae changes shape or direction. Although it is hard to change what's natural, massage could improve the animal's flexibility and enhance proper alignment during their growth stage.
With regular massages, shy and guarded animals will become more trusting, energetic and neurotic ones more calm.
With the numerous benefits, many might be tempted to run out immediately and arrange a massage session for their beloved four-legged friends, but there are a few situations where massage will be counterproductive instead. Sports massage therapy helps in instances of a quick pain or sore ache in the muscles during a particular movement. But when there is an intense, persistent internal pain, this may indicate a life threatening situation and a vet should be consulted immediately!
As massage speeds up metabolism and blood circulation in the body, do not attempt to massage in the following situations and call the vet immediately.
Persistent, sharp internal pain : indication of life threatening situation and a vet should be consulted immediately.
Shock : When in shock, massage will lower the animal’s blood pressure further.
Fever : Fever of above 39°C is the body’s way of fighting infection. Massage speeds up metabolism and
blood circulation, leading to further temperature increase.
Post surgery : Overall massage would speed up the healing process, but incision areas should be avoided for at least
Acute trauma : torn muscles with internal bleeding. To use ice in the beginning to sooth the condition. Massage can only
resume at least 72 hours later.
Infectious diseases and problems: Do not massage an animal when it has infectious diseases and conditions like fungal skin problems,
strangles, herpes, influenza, pneumonia
Others : Severe forms of functional nervous diseases
Acute arthritis and rheumatism : Acute nerve problems or nerve irritation following a bad stretch or injury
* Cancer : Massage could spread a condition that may be isolated due to improved circulation.
* Judgemental: owners might still want to give their animal friends a pampering session during the last few years of their life. Written advice from vets regarding cancer is encouraged. When in doubt whether a massage will be beneficial to the animal in an abnormal situation, always consult a veterinarian.