What does massage do? Massage and bodywork can contribute significantly to your animal’s ease of movement, health, and quality of life. In addition to reducing muscle soreness and providing well-deserved pampering, massage also
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves the quality and symmetry of movement
- Supports better joint health and function
- Promotes earlier detection of stresses and strains
- Stimulates circulation for greater health of all tissues
- Helps reduce risk, severity, and frequency of injuries
- Improves athletic agility and coordination
- Reduces the effects of stress
- Minimizes restrictions caused by old scar tissue
- Reduces or eliminates adhesions, knots, and other restrictions
- Improves skeletal alignment for more efficient movement
- Releases endorphins (natural pain killers)
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves digestion
- Supports recovery from injury, surgery, or other traumas
- Optimizes progress in training and earning due to better health, calmer mind, and greater body awareness and comfort
- Improves quality of sleep
- Releases stored toxins
- Increases flexibility
- Deepens your relationship with your animal
- There is less stress on tendons, ligaments, cartilage and joints
- Breathing deepens, increasing oxygen supply
- Circulation is improved
Massage unsticks structures that are “glued” together (adhesions), so…
- Pressures on nerves, blood vessels, and pain receptors are reduced
- Muscles function better
- Complications from scar tissue are reduced
Massage switches the nervous system from stress to relaxation, so…
- Blood pressure is lowered
- Survival mechanisms of the body get to rest and recover
- Immune function is improved
Learn more in the books, The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage and The Dog Lover’s Guide to Massage.
What is …(Myofascial Release)? Does it really work for animals, too? You’ll find a description of Myofascial Release, as well as many other holistic therapies, in the Glossary. MFR and virtually any therapy that works for people also works for animals. However, each species has unique needs and characteristics to consider in applying any form of therapy, so it is important to educate yourself and/or seek professional support.
My animal has . . . (a disease / difficulty / behavior problem). Will massage help? Chances are some form of body therapy will help your animal, especially in combination with other services like your veterinarian or trainer. But each situation will have important factors to consider before choosing the modality, timing and approach. If your animal has an illness, injury or medical condition, some effects of massage could potentially be harmful. Before massaging any animal with an illness, injury or medical condition, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
- Do not massage any animal who has a fever or systemic infection.
- Do not massage directly over areas of current injury, local inflammation, local infection or recent surgery.
- Consult with your veterinarian with any questions, and including about conditions involving the heart, kidneys, liver, circulatory problems or cancer.
In addition to consulting with your veterinarian, you can also Ask Megan about massage and bodywork for your animal.
How can I learn how to massage my own animal? There are several options for anyone to learn animal massage.. Or take several! It’s a fun topic about which you can always learn more, and having a teacher right with you is a valuable opportunity.
- Take a class! Learn at your own pace from videos and more, all on-line.
- Find out why The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage and The Dog Lover’s Guide to Massage are ideal for beginners.
- Another great idea is to find a professional near you to learn from by observing or getting some one-on-one coaching. Scheduling an appointment for your own animal will not only help you learn about massage, but also about what might be going on specifically for your animal’s body. You can also organize a workshop with friends and hire a professional to teach.
What are the regulations for animal massage in my state? The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB) is one site that the provides a chart with information on this topic listed by state. The question is an ever-evolving one, and on-line information may not always have the latest updates. It is often possible to find different answers depending on who you ask, so it’s always a good idea to check with multiple sources.