Every dog sport, from agility to fly ball, dock diving to canicross involves repetitve movements. Sometimes these movements are high impact as well as repetitive. Because of this, they can impact negatively on the muscles of your dog’s neck, shoulders, back and those supporting their joints. This leads to muscle tension, which can restrict movement and cause pain. Has your dog become reluctant to weave? Hesitating at the jump? Course times getting worse? All of these things might indicate pain.
Myotherapy can release muscular tension, restore flexibility and allow your dog to resume quick and flexible responses.
All sports, human and canine, carry with them a risk of injury. Alongside good training programmes, Galen Myotherapy can reduce the risk of injury by maximising your dog’s muscle health. Dogs with a strong, healthy musculoskeletal system are less likely to suffer from muscle tears, strains and sprains. Fenzi Dog Sports Academy offer some great webinars and distance learning courses, covering conditioning and training across a wide range of disciplines.
Pre-event warm up
A pre-event warm up, that includes Galen Myotherapy techniques, can increase your dog’s overall performance and reduce the risk of injury. This is beneficial if carried out about 10 – 20 minutes before the event. A good pre-event warm up session does the following:
- increases heart and breathing rates, increasing circulation and oxygen availability
- increases muscle and joint temperature, and reduces tension.
- stimulates your dog’s nervous system, leading to heightened focus, faster responses and improved vision
- increases your bond with your dog
Post-event cool down
A cool down after an event, whether that’s a training session or a competition, encourages your dog’s blood to cleanse the muscles of the metabolic waste products that were created during heavy exercise. This helps to keep muscles supple and healthy. It also gets you into the routine of checking for any injuries or slight changes. You know what ‘normal’ is for your dog and a good post-event cool down is your early warning system as well as preparation for the next session.
A post-event cool down is usually best carried out about an hour after the session, once your dog has recovered. A good post-event cool down has the following effects:
- hands-on information on the current condition of your dog’s muscles. Abnormal heat, tension or injury can be detected which might need veterinary advice before Galen Myotherapy
- Microtrauma of muscle fibres can be encouraged to repair
- parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, releasing ‘happy hormones’, encouraging relaxation and provide some painkilling effects
- good blood and lymph circulation is encouraged, removing the by-products of exercise and flooding the muscles with fresh blood and nutrients. This reduces soreness and inflammation.
- muscle fibres are realigned, which helps the muscle to repair in its most effective, efficient state for future exertion.
- the positive physical and psychological impact of a post-event cool down session makes your relationship with your dog stronger
The pre and post-event sessions outlined in the ‘sporting dogs’ section above can be really beneficial for working dogs too. However, in the real world it is often not practical to do this because of the nature of the work.
Working dogs spend time waiting to work, often in cold, wet conditions. You need them to exert a lot of energy in a very specific way, suddenly and sometimes for extended periods of time. This is all in very stimulating environments where your dog needs to stay calm and in control. That’s a large strain on your dog’s body even before you add in the physical impact of tight turns, sudden stops and jumps over natural barriers.
Working dogs are a valuable asset and you want to keep your dog healthy and working for as long as possible. Galen Myotherapy treatments pre-season, during and post-season are an effective way of maintaining your working dog in peak condition. Whether that’s during the shooting season, for herding dogs, assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs or Police dogs.
These occur when motor nerves are excessively active and cause a ‘knot’ in the muscle. This can be from over exertion, injury or neurological problems.
When the muscle spindle (mechanoreceptors) are stimulated because the muscle fibres stretch to a certain length, they cause a reflex action to the muscle fibres to contract to avoid over-stretching and subsequent damage. The muscle fibres relax once the muscle spindles cease to be stimulated and the instruction to contract stops.
If the muscle spindles continue to be stimulated, the muscle continues to contract, does not relax and a spasm results. This might be an entire muscle (a full spasm) or a small number of fibres (a stress point or micro-spasm).
If muscle fibres tear as a result of stretching beyond the limits of their elasticity, inflammation results and then scar tissue is laid down to repair the damage. This tends to be laid down in a haphazard way and will mean that the muscle will not be as flexible or strong. This can result in further spasms becoming more likely.
Muscle spasms are strong, reflex contractions of muscle and are often prolonged and painful
Spasms are not necessarily serious in themselves, but can indicate an underlying problem such as a compressed nerve
Pain is likely to cause behavioural changes as the dog becomes more withdrawn or conversely, more aggressive
How Massage can Help
Trauma is a contraindication for myotherapy, so if muscle spasms are resulting from an injury, that has to pass through the acute stage before myotherapy is indicated.
For longer term spasms or those that are not related to trauma, myotherapy can help to physically break down adhesions and scar tissue which also supports the reduction of muscular spasms.
Increasing lymphatic drainage promotes the removal of metabolic byproducts and inflammatory chemicals which may be present. Increased blood circulation delivers fresh nutrients and oxygen to enhance healing of damaged tissue.
The pain cycle can be interrupted by stimulating other nerve receptors so ‘interfering’ with the stimulation of the muscle spindles and mechanoreceptors causing muscle contraction, allowing the muscle fibres to relax
Massage causes ‘happy hormones’ (including serotonin and endorphins) to be released and efficiently distributed via blood circulation. These hormones cause mood to improve and pain perception to decrease. Endorphins act like pain killers and can also have a sedative effect. They bind to the same neuron receptors that some pain medications do (e.g. opioids)
Getting Started is Easy
Call or e-mail me and tell me all about your dog! I will do my best to answer any questions you have and explain what happens during the sessions
Complete a ‘Doggy Detail’ form and reserve an appointment pending vet consent
Once I have the completed vet consent form we are ready to go! Your reserved appointment will be confirmed and I will meet you and your best friend for their first session
If you have any questions you can call me, or send me an email.
If you are worried about your dog, it is important to get your questions answered as soon as possible. Always talk to your vet about emergencies, or if you think your dog has a new illness or their condition has changed.
I am here 7 days a week for general help and advice relating to Galen Myotherapy and will return your call or e-mail within 24hrs.
If you call and don’t get through I am probably carrying out a consultation, so please leave a message and I will call you back.
Monday to Friday = 6pm – 8pm
Saturday = 10am – 8pm
Sun = Closed