It’s finally the season to get back to performance and competition with our horses and dogs. After a long, hard winter in the Pacific Northwest, we are very ready to get back to work!
Most of the things we ask our four legged friends and partners to do are very challenging for the spine. Particularly for horses who are asked to do most or all of their work with equipment and people on their backs. This applies also for dogs, however, especially dogs involved in high impact sports like agility, dock jumping, flyball, or other endeavors.
In order to keep our competition partners in optimum shape, I recommend regular bodywork such as massage and chiropractics.
Most of us are familiar with the benefits of massage to maintain and improve muscle health, but what about chiropractic care?
Let’s begin with what chiropractic care even is. When doing a chiropractic assessment, what I or another practitioner is looking for is not so much vertebrae that are out of place, but vertebrae or segments of the spine that are not moving optimally. The stiff places can be the result of a chronic condition like arthritis, or they can be from muscles tightening around spinal segments due to injuries or simply the stress of physical activity.
A chiropractic adjustment is a small amplitude, high speed force applied to a specific vertebra in a specific angle. Basically we deliver a firm twitch to the area we determine needs an adjustment. This movement triggers the stretch reflexes in the tendons around the area causing a reflexive relaxation of the muscles associated.
Especially in athletes or other individuals who have small injuries and don’t have chronic problems these adjustments can bring immediate relief and improved function to the area.
I have had some patients walk in lame and walk out sound after an adjustment. I have also had some patients who had long term flexibility issues and after just one or two adjustments were suddenly able to move their necks more freely. One patient had never been a flexible horse and it was explained by the fact that she was a solid, strong horse. However, after an adjustment at the base of her neck she was suddenly able to perform proper 20m circles and do lateral work at a level she had never been able to before.
Athletes who undergo a lot of spinal stress certainly benefit the most, this includes high impact activities like jumping, or activities that involve extreme bending at speed such as pole bending, barrel racing, etc.
I highly recommend that all athletes receive assessments and adjustments at least every 3 months while in work, sometimes as often as monthly depending on the level of fitness and performance.
Have questions? Email me! I love blogging, especially when I know it’s answering my tribe’s questions.
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