Healing Touch for Animals

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People and animals suffer similar injuries. They strain muscles, pull ligaments and experience various forms of soft-tissue damage. Some do it while they are on the job. Horses and dogs, in particular are working animals. They are pets. They can also be trained athletes. When animals have these problems, one person who can help them is the Veterinarian; another is a massage therapist.
Veterinary Massage is a relatively new practice. Although it may have ancient roots, it is only quite recently more acceptable among veterinarians. This is true in for large and small animal practices. Veterinary Massage can or never should take the place of medical treatment. It is a powerful aid, however, in helping animals heal.
Like human massage, it has many different techniques. These vary according to both the animal and the situation. By necessity, Veterinary Massage borrows its techniques quite heavily from those practiced in human massage. They include many used in Sports Massage as well as techniques from Eastern Massage Therapy. In Veterinary Massage, a practitioner needs to have a thorough understanding of Acupressure, Trigger-Point Massage Therapy and Cranio-sacral Therapy. He or she also needs to be able to utilize Friction Massage (from Swedish Massage Therapy) and Passive Range of Motion Therapy.
Acupressure is the pressing of the hands or fingertips on specific acupoints. There are some 365 such points on the human body. Veterinary Massage Therapy adapts this form to the animal. Fingers press gently or firmly to relief stress. A practitioner could adapt the specific types of acupressure to the needs of an animal. They could use some version of Shiatsu, Tui Na, An Mo or Jin Shin Do to relief pain, reduce stress and increase circulation. Acupressure is used on many animals and even a few reptiles with success.
Trigger Point Massage, pioneered by Janet Travell, a doctor, is similar to Acupressure. It places pressure on specific points of the body to ease pain. The practitioner finds the tender areas in tight muscles. He or she then presses and holds these “trigger points” on the animal to release the contractions or spasm. The pressure relaxes the muscle increasing the amount of blood and oxygen circulating. This stops the spasm.
To use Cranio-Sacral Therapy, you have to understand the relationship between the cranium and the systems of joints and muscles. It also requires a belief in energy blockages. Pressure at the base of the neck helps to relieve and free the blockage of energy or cyst. The sensitivity of the neck requires great care in the implementation of this form of massage therapy.
In Passive Range Motion Therapy, the practitioner manipulates the leg or affected part. A therapist moves the body part without the voluntary or active participation of the animal. This may or may not involve a pulley-system. You can do it manually or by a specifically designed machine. Passive Range of motion is quite effective in treating certain problems in small animals. This is particularly true of dogs.
Friction Massage derives from Swedish Massage Therapy. It involves using a finger or thumb to apply moderate pressure on the affected tendons or muscles. You move the finger back-and-forth. The practitioner uses deep strokes that dig into the fiber of the tendon.
Other techniques in Veterinary Massage apply to the specific case or animal. If you have a racehorse or other competitive animal, you may draw on sports Medicine. Sports Medicine a derivative and adaptation of Swedish Massage, utilizes a system of treatment. In Sports Massage, you massage the athlete, in this case the animal, at different times for different reasons. There are pre, inter and post event therapeutic massage treatments. The intent is to help improve and maintain the performance of the athlete without injury. Massage for a horse, for example, may be part of a pre-race, warm-up exercise. There are two other categories of Sports Massage Therapy: maintenance and treatment.
Overall, Veterinary Massage Therapy operates to provide relief from various aches and pains. Therapists use it, as they do in humans, to help stimulate healing. Veterinary Therapy helps the animal to relax. It reduces stress. Other health benefits may include respite from arthritic, hip dysplasia and muscle pain as well as a deceased recovery time from various injuries and surgery. The correct use of Veterinary Massage may also reduce spasms and remove tension and stress from the muscles and joints.

Posted by Andrew
on Feb 3 2011. Filed under Massage.
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