In general, equine massage works the superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. It involves working with varied pressures and movements – stationary, on stretch, or moving – direct pressure, oscillating motion, vibration or tapotement. Target tissue areas may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, or forearm. Massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, and improving flexibility while easing tension.
Sport & Deep Tissue Massage:
Sport & Deep Tissue Massage aim at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. In addition, it looks at the body from an athlete’s perspective keeping in mind problem areas today not addressed can be tomorrow’s injuries. It encompasses a variety of techniques including compression, cross-fiber friction, direct pressure on trigger/stress points and tapotement. As the work is more focused and much deeper, it is typically performed slowly and specifically. It is important for the therapist to check regularly for a range of bio-feedback on pressure with our equine clients. If you are holding the lead line, you may be asked to help watch for feedback cues.
Proper protocol for sport & deep tissue work would include proper “warming up” of the area to prepare the tissues and allow access for deeper work, without the backlash of bruising or injury to tissues. This can not be stressed enough! As the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as “adhesions.”), deep tissue techniques will include slower strokes and more direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles, NOT with the grain. It aims to release the chronic patterns of tension in the body on the contracted or compressed areas.
Myofascial Release & Structural Integration
Myofascial Release & Structural Integration are safe and very effective hands-on techniques that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions or bony lever landmarks to aid the ‘unwinding’ of adhesed areas on the fascial planes of the body to eliminate pain and restore motion.
Typically, you may witness a holding of an area with a blend of various compression and directional force anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 -5 minutes. This essential “time element” has to do with the viscous flow and fascial release. Research shows that a low load (gentle pressure) applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic medium (fascia) to elongate. Basically, the therapist applies comfortable sustained pressure with multiple directional force for an extended length of time allowing the densification of fascial restrictions to release and ‘unwind’ providing for relaxation of tissues and restoration of freedom of movement and motility.
Myofascial Release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and equalizing the energy used within the muscle fibers.