Tag: acupoint therapies
New Massage Techniques
Over the past couple months I have been studying and practicing a new kind of massage called the Masterson Method. This work is based on the techniques and the life work of Jim Masterson, a renowned equine massage therapist who has worked on many international horses. For more information on the Masterson Method read this article.
What’s so great about this kind of work? It falls in line with a host of other techniques I use everyday. Jim’s special twist is a combination of massage, cranio-sacral therapy and myofascial release. Although that’s not how he advertises it, that’s what it is. Having studied craniosacral therapy, positional release and myofascial release, Jim’s techniques made total sense to me and to the horse (you could tell by their reaction). The Masterson Method added some cool ways to help me unlock tension in key junctions of the body from head to tail. I am happy to now offer this work to my clients.
These key junctions include the tmj, poll, withers, shoulders, neck, ribs, thoracic and lumbar vertebra, sacrum and SI joint, hips, stifles, hocks, fetlocks and feet but as you can see, all areas of the body can be treated with this method.
Your Horse Will Tell You
In addition, this kind of therapy you do with a horse not to the horse. As the practitioner, I constantly check in with the horses’ reaction and body language to determine where therapy is needed and how long to stay on a particular body part. If you watch the horse, they will tell you everything. Having this extra piece of communication really gave purpose to what I was feeling with my hands.
Many times I am asked how I feel what I do. It’s all energy. If you practice long enough you can feel where it’s flowing, stuck, too active or deficient. Couple that feeling with a reaction from the horse and you got a great two way communication system to really help horses feel better in their body. Often, just some simple techniques can help a horse unlock and become freer. A full on treatment can really make a big difference.
While bodywork can’t replace veterinary care, it is a great way to accomplish four things:
- help the veterinarian know where to concentrate their diagnostics and work.
- efficiently treat compensatory pain, lameness and bad biomechanics.
- complement what you are doing with your vet and your horse for lasting results.
- address body issues that are keeping your horse from performing its’ best.
I am now including this work in every treatment. The hardest part is finding the time! With so many techniques now in my tool belt, I can’t fit them all in. Luckily, I get to see my patients more than just once. If you’d like to schedule a treatment and experience these new techniques, please call Rebecca today!
Whole Food 4: Herbs and More
In our final month of whole foods, let’s talk about a few herbs and “other” foods that are packed full of nutrition.
Hawthorn Berries are high in antioxidants. They contain the flavonoids such as quercitin, and oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs)- the same antioxidants found in grapes. In Europe, they are used as a heart tonic and to treat circulatory and heart disorders.
Red Raspberry Leaf is high in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin B. Most horse people are familiar with raspberry leaf as a uterine relaxant and it’s suggested use for mares when “in heat”. Some horse owners have reported limited success with using raspberry for those reasons. I advise horse owners to tailor a herbal prescription to their individual horse’s needs and not just rely on over the counter preparations.
Bee Pollen is another excellent source of amino acids. Bee pollen is considered a super food that interestingly we can’t artificially produce. It is full of vitamin and minerals and many have acclaimed it’s super powers. My only concern is the plight of the honey bee. They are dying out fast and while scientist know of multiple causes, there seems to be little hope for these great pollinators.
So that completes our list, although I wouldn’t say it’s complete. I just wanted to give you a sample of the many foods available that pack a punch in nutrition. Supplementing our horses doesn’t require synthetic or man made vitamins and minerals that congest and clog our horses systems up. Not only do we over supplement our horses with vitamins and minerals but many of the synthetics are not utilized by the body and are actually harmful. Hopefully this list gave you a place to start in providing a rich source of vitamins and minerals to your horse without having to pay the expensive price tag on processed supplements.
Remember this information is not to replace veterinary advice or care. Always consult a equine nutritionist when changing your horses diet.
Don’t forget to contact me if you’d like a topic covered in a future blog. Until next time,
Whole Foods 3: Seeds and Such
Last month we talked about some great whole foods that are not only packed with nutrition but are treats our horses love to eat. Today I want to talk about seeds and some other dried foods that are great additions to an equine supplement you are attempting to make or looking to buy. Check these out…
Nutritional Yeast is an excellent source of amino acids, B vitamins and provides the compounds beta-1,3 glucan, trehalose, mannan and glutathione, which are associated with enhanced immunity, reduced cholesterol levels and cancer prevention. Nutritional yeast also has the minerals iron, selenium and zinc. Note that it has been heated and deactivated so there isn’t any active yeast. (This is especially important for people who add it to their diet because it won’t cause or aggravate any candida growth.) You will find this listed in holistic supplements for horses and therefore is something you should know about.
Kelp (a nutritional seaweed) is an excellent mineral supplement containing most of the trace minerals and some ultra trace minerals. It also contains proteins and the vitamins A,B, C, D, E and K making it a great nutritional supplement. Kelp also contains a biological available form of calcium and iodine. Your source for kelp is important as some products are mislabeled and some products have toxic metals in them. It helps to do a little research on the source of kelp before you feed it to yourself or your horse.
Spirulina (a bluegreen algae) is known to be a good source of protein, carotenoids, iron and minerals. Loaded with antioxidants, spirulina, is being researched for it’s role in immune function, cleansing out toxins and fighting diseases such as cancer.
Hemp Seeds are a great source of protein and amino acids, essential fatty acids and phytonutrients. Similar to flax seeds, hemp seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids but additionally provides significant amounts of the more rare ‘super’ polyunsaturated fatty acids, notably gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA). Supplementation with GLA and SDA appears to alleviate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and other skin diseases.
Flax Seeds. please read my previous article about the benefits of flax seeds by clicking here.
Chia Seeds. According to Mountain Rose Herbs they contain “Essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, 30% protein, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, sodium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, silicon, and anti-oxidants.” They are concentrated little powerhouses of nutrition. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds are digested and do not need to be ground.
Pumpkin seeds are also packed with omega 3 fatty acids. They are a good source of magnesium and zinc. Studies show they help improve insulin regulation and lower inflammation in the body. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan which the body uses to make serotonin.
Sesame Seeds. The World’s Healthiest Foods says “Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.”
It’s amazing how these little seeds can have such nutritional value and therefore great disease fighting and health promoting properties. It makes me not only want to include them into my horses diet but also my own.
Whole Foods 2: Fresh Foods
Last time we talked about why whole foods are so great for your horse and the downsides of feeding processed foods. If you haven’t read that article, you can find it here. Today, let’s review some edible fresh foods for horses and what nutrients they have in them. While some of these you may already give to your horse, I bet some you never thought of. I want to mention that when introducing new foods proceed slowly as to not upset your horses digestive system. In addition, realize that not all foods will be palatable to your individual horse.
Carrots are rich in beta carotene which converts into retinol, the most usable vitamin A for the body. It is recommended that horses get between 24,000 & 50,000 IU per day. 1 cup of carrots has about 18,000 IU. Green grass has vitamin A but in winter horses can easily become deficient because stored hay looses it’s vitamin content pretty quickly. Carrots also contain vitamin K, C, E, B1,, B2, B3, B6, potassium, folate, copper, phosphorous, pantothenic acid and manganese.
Apples contain polyphenols which are not only a great source of antioxidants but also have been shown to reduce blood sugar. Apparently, the apple slows down carbohydrate digestion and reduces glucose absorption. In human research, apples are good for the cardiovascular system, anti-cancer and anti-asthma. Apples are a good source of vitamin C.
Pumpkin reportedly safe to offer your horses. I’ve never tried it but might this coming fall and see what they do. I do feed pumpkin seeds and that we will cover in the future under seeds and such. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A, B, antioxidants and many minerals. Might be worth a try!
Mango pieces can be fed to your horse but NOT the pit/seed. Mangos are another good source of vitamin C and A.
Wheat Grass is like a horse superfood. I grow this indoors during the winter or early spring to give my horses a special treat. It’s full of minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium and selenium. Vitamins in wheatgrass include A, C, E, and several B vitamins. The most prevalent vitamin in wheatgrass is pantothenic acid.
Fresh herbs are a great addition to your horses diet. Again these can be grown inside and offered during the winter months when it’s hard for horses to get anything fresh. Although the discussion of herbs for your horse is beyond this blog here is a list of some herbs you can try: chamomile, red clover, calendula or thyme.
There are other vegetables and fruit (without pits) that supposedly are safe to feed your horse, I’ve just never tried them. Obviously this information is not to replace veterinary care and I cannot be held liable for this information. Just saying…
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a hyper-irritable spot located in a tight band of skeletal muscle. If you’d had an active trigger point, you know how painful they can be. They can produce pain locally and radiate out into seemingly other unrelated parts of the body. Inactive trigger points which often cause stiffness and decreased range of motion without pain are far more common. While trigger points can accompany many chronic musculo-skeletal disorders, they are caused by an muscle overload either by acute trauma (fall, injury etc) by sustained, prolonged activity or by repetitive micro trauma. Nerve compression and the decreased flow of blood and oxygen further injure the muscle. This dysfunction of the muscle then creates further complication in the tendons, ligaments and skeleton of the horse. The persistent pain associated with trigger points results in both a decrease function in the muscles of locomotion and in the postural muscles. This is why it’s so important to address trigger points.
While factors that increase the formation of trigger points are numerous and sometimes hard to detect, they are important. Without the proper attention they can spell the difference between success and failure in treatment.
- Mechanical stress
- skeletal & postural asymetry
- poor fitting tack compressing nerves in the paravertebral muscles
- rider imbalance
- lack of warmup
- overuse of muscles causing fatigue
- Nutritional imbalances
- Metabolic and endocine disorders
- Cushings Syndrome
- Low Thyroid
- Insulin Resistance
- Equine Metabolic Syndrome
- Psychological Problems
- Chronic disease and infections
- respiratory disease
- liver and kidney dysfunction
- heart murmurs
Types of Trigger Points
Central tigger points are located in the most electrically excitable area of the muscle, also called the motor point of the muscle. These points are usually found over the body of the muscle and dysfunction causes contraction knots, nodules and taut fibers.
Attachment trigger points are located at the attachment of the muscle onto fascia, tendons or bone. The strain on the muscle at these attachments causes swelling, tenderness and pain.
Key trigger points is the main trigger point responsible for the activity of additional trigger points. Clinically this becomes apparent when the release of one trigger points also causes the release of additional trigger points called satellite trigger points. For long term affects, both the key and satellite trigger points need to be released.
Trigger Point Treatment
There are many ways to release trigger points and different modalities of alternative medicine address them even if they don’t aknowledge them as such. However, Janet Travell, author of the Trigger Point Manual, recognized the following successful treatments for trigger points.
- vapocoolant spray during stretching
- isometric contractions and voluntary contraction and relaxation of the muscle
- percussion during stretching
- range of motion exercises that fully lengthen and shorten every muscle treated
- ischemic compression (best on central trigger points)
- deep stroking massage
- myofascial release
- dry needling/acupuncture
Acupuncture and Trigger Points
Research has shown acupuncture to be effective in treating muscle pain and releasing trigger points. We also know that acupuncture speeds healing of injured tissue and brings blood and oxygen to the local area. Interestingly, The Tri State College of Acupuncture calls the study of Acupuncture in the release of trigger points: Acupuncture Physical Medicine. They have a great quote related to this very study. “Acupuncture Physical Medicine or dry needle release of a trigger point is safer than trigger point hypodermic needling and far easier than manual trigger point release, yet as effective as either”. Trigger point treatment via acupuncture combines Japanese meridian therapy techniques along with current knowledge in trigger point therapy. While trigger points are (according to Travell) very persistent most of the medical community focuses instead on the injury to tendons, ligaments and joints. We all know that acupuncture was meant to be preventative. This is one area where it rings true. Why not address the trigger points with acupuncture and body work before they impact the fascia, tendons, ligaments and skeletal system?
I’ve done this before, but wanted to try it again. Dancer, my own horse, has been working really hard this spring. He’s been doing great but hasn’t felt quite as good in his back as I know he can feel. He’s NOT lame nor does he palpate to be sore. Everything looks and feels as it should but he’s just not flowing in his trot. In response, I begin the experiment.
Over a 3 week period Dancer got 4 acupuncture treatments. About every 5 days. WOW, what a difference it made. He felt better after the first treatment but by the fourth he was really supple. He is swinging over his back, easy to connect and easy to engage. The best news… it’s been 10 days since the last treatment and he still feels wonderful. I’m so amazed at how powerful this medicine is.
Prepping for Competition
How can this benefit you? Think about your training. Is there something your horse is struggling with? Would it help if your horse felt better in his body? Preparing for a big clinic, event or show? Wouldn’t it be great to walk into that competition with your horse feeling amazing?
Think on this.
Scenario #1 is the routine client. I have many “routine” clients that get me out to work on their horse on a regular basis to ensure their horse feels it’s best. This routine is usually about once a month. I’m not advocating treating a horse every week for the rest of it’s life but too often I see us rely on acupuncture as a one time treatment. I don’t think we are truly utilizing the power of this medicine. Let’s try something different…Instead of once a month for several months, let’s try twice a week for 2 weeks every 3 months. It ends up being the same amount of money but I think you will see better results.
Scenario #2 is the client who calls me up to prepare for a big event. What if instead of calling me out every 3-6 months for one treatment, we really make a big impact on the horse by doing 4-5 treatments right in a row. Really give the horse the boost he needs. Again, I think you will be extremely pleased with the result and you will be setting the horse up for success.
Research has proven that frequent treatment back to back is very effective even with long standing problems. My horse just helped prove this. As usual, when I listen to my horse I learn. Dancer is teaching me an important lesson. Frequent treatment is the key to success. Let’s try it on your horse and see the great results.