What is Equine Sports Massage?
Massage is believed to have been used for centuries all over the world. First documented in 2700BC, the Chinese used massage to treat illnesses such as fever and paralysis. Also around this time, the Egyptians painted images on their tombs of people being massaged. It is even thought that as early as 1100BC the Ancient Greeks would massage their horses before going into battle. More recently, the gold medal USA equestrian team used sports massage on their horses at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. Since then, equine sports massage has been increasing in popularity. Many of us have experienced the benefits of massage ourselves, so can imagine the benefits to be gained from equine sports massage.
Equine Sports Massage (ESM) is a complementary therapy which is used in conjunction with veterinary procedures and in some cases in association with other therapies, chiropractors, remedial saddlers and farriers. ESM uses a range of professional techniques; Swedish massage, muscle energy techniques, active and passive stretches. ESM works on nearly all the muscles and soft tissues, but also affects the skin and many other systems such as the nervous, skeletal, circulatory and lymphatic systems. All the techniques use a hands-on approach allowing the therapist to explore the muscles for areas of tightness, spasm or soreness. ESM is a therapy which covers the whole body relieving muscle tension and compensatory tension, and therefore allows the horse to function at his optimum. ESM is a powerful tool in examining the musculo-skeletal system, and can find and relieve muscle spasms / tension even before the signs become obvious.
ESM can be used on every horse, pony and donkey from the companion animal to the happy hacker to the top athlete. The range of techniques used in ESM means that it can be beneficial for any horse including: improving and maintaining suppleness in the sports horse and therefore improve performance and reduce risk of injury; treating conditions from back pain to stiffness; preparing your horse for competition; assisting recovery and relaxation after competition.