Benefits of Massage


The Basics

Myofascial Release

Massage and Bending

Massage and Injury Prevention

Massage in Layup

Massage and Chiropractic

The Dog



Custom Bodywork

I sometimes find it difficult to answer the question, "What do you do?" with respect to my massage work. 

Massage itself is a vastly underappreciated and powerful body of techniques, ancient, honorable, and linked to many aspects of health.   Massage is what it is, yet using that word can leave the questioner with less information and more preconception than I want.  The kinds of massage that people readily think of, and which in fact are some of my favorites, are important for soreness, stiffness, fatigue, headaches (yes, some think that horses and dogs have headaches), and good maintenance to prevent injury and keep nonideal movement patterns and contractions at bay, for horses and dogs of all ages and occupation.

Because of the variety of techniques and the kinds of information that have contributed to my work, I use 'custom bodywork' to describe the individual assessment and 
judgment about what will be most effective for each animal.  

There are aspects of medical massage, sports massage, orthopedic massage, myofascial release, neuromuscular retraining, positional release, and other kinds of work in what I do.   Some of these fall into an overlap between massage/bodywork and groundwork methods.  They are 'skill drills' for the ridden horse, for instance, to imprint and encourage the best use of his body when he is ridden.  When they are combined with methods to release soft tissue by manual methods, low level laser and pulsed electromagnetic waves at established appropriate frequencies,  I believe that they are a wonderful help to both the horse and rider.  The athletic dog can also be encouraged toward better body use during his massage work using the same methods.

Correct bending, including lateral and longitudinal flexion, mobility of the spine, mobilization of the jaw, suppleness around  the soft  tissue (tendons, fascia, and the like, all vulnerable to concussion injury), freedom of the muscles to contract and also to relax (!) in performance, learning to deal with tension by learning relaxation as a behavior; these are just some of the topics that come up in our quadriped friends.  There is much to think about with each individual, and decisions to be made.

My sessions for horses tend to be long, about an hour and a half (it's a big body) and there are patterns I tend to follow.  I nearly always work on the whole body in every session.  Of course the first session is an attempt to deal with as much as possible, while working out which issues are primary and which secondary.  There is nearly always an improvement with the first session, yet the greatest rewards come from continuing on some kind of a maintenance program.  Subsequent sessions go deeper into the issues that I think are fundamental to the horse's body and his longevity and happiness as a riding horse (which are the same as the owner's).    There are so many ways in which our progress and theirs can be held back by what seem like relatively minor problems.  We are asking a lot of them!

Sessions for dogs are shorter, about an hour, with the same goals and tools tailored for them.  Dogs have always been very special in my life, and their relationship to touch is very interesting.  Considering that we pet them indiscriminantly, they are remarkably alert and sensitive to specific, intentional touch.  For some dogs, receiving massage requires a focus and receptivity that must be worked out from moment to moment.   Taking breaks is particularly important to them, with an opportunity to walk around a little and return to the practitioner when they are ready.  Because of the huge variation among the breeds and varieties of dog, including behavioral factors, knowledge of dogs is as important for the work as knowledge of horses is in that case.