- It’s a given that an equine athlete needs bodywork. But the hard question is what type of equine bodywork? There are lots of options to explore and it sometimes equine sports massage isn’t the answer. So how do we figure out what is right for your horse? Well, let’s explore! This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will help:
- 1. Equine massage – Of course I’m going to start off with my favorite! Equine massage works on balancing the muscles to increase blood flow and remove tension. Sports massage utilize treating pressure points, adding compression, and working with percussion to further maintain muscle vigor. You can read more about the benefits of massage here. Personally, I feel like this non-invasive therapy is great for any and all horses. If there are muscles, a massage will help.
2. Acupuncture – This practice works to balance the flow of energies within the horse’s body. The acupuncturist works to address these points with needles to open the energies. You can also see varying types of acupuncture, from aqua-puncture to moxibustion. Acupuncture is a common practice in Chinese medicine and there have been amazing results. Also, let’s give an honor to acupressure, even though it’s not a substitute to acupuncture. This practice works alongside the real thing to balance flows of energy.
3. Chiropractic work – Helps improve range of motion, less stress on joints, helps with alignment. This practice features more of a focus on the bones and joints than on the muscles. A chiropractor is almost always a veterinarian, as well. This therapy is good for athletes that put a lot of stress on their bodies.
4. PEMF – Pulse electro-magnetic frequency (PEMF) is a therapy that is shown to help with healing and relieving muscle soreness. This therapy works well for horses by assisting in recovery after work and can help with cell metabolism. You can also work specifically on tendons or ligaments.
5. Light Therapy – This bodywork practice is seen to help cells heal faster. Think of infrared technology! Shockwave therapy is actually very similar. You’ll see this treatment with horses that have an injury you’re trying to heal.
6. Cranial Sacral Therapy – This bodywork is seen to relieve tension but places more emphasis on restoring the balance of energy. You can learn more here.
I’m sure there’s more bodywork options out there, but these are just to name a few. As you can see, the common goal here is to relieve tension, facilitate healing, and reduce the likelihood of future injury. No matter what you choose, your horse will thank you for helping them improve performance!
Just sort of a disclaimer here, but it’s important to remember that bodywork is not a substitute for veterinary medicine. I know we all know that, but it’s important to note. If you don’t see an improvement in your horse after 2 or 3 sessions of any sort of work, call the vet. When something is really wrong with your horse, a vet will help them. Thankfully, us equine bodyworkers can help to point out when you do need to consult a vet!
Lastly, a bodywork session isn’t the cure for everything. You need to be consistent with bodywork, just like you’re consistent with riding. Not only that, but your horse’s nutrition and stress levels are also at play here. A horse can only truly feel their best when everything is working for them.
That’s why I named my business One Stride. We have to work at this, one stride at a time. (Yes, I’m corny like that!)
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed learning about bodywork and learned something today! If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!