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Treatment Techniques: Massage

In previous blog posts, I have discussed how your pet will be initially assessed. Now its time to move onto how I will treat them!

In the next few weeks, I will be talking through the different types of treatment I will often use.

The first of which is massage. Massage is a collection of techniques whereby the therapist uses the hands to work with and knead the muscles and joints of the body to relieve tension and pain. Massage applies different movements of changing pressures to the tissues, resulting in increased circulation, removal of cellular waste, increased venous and lymphatic return thus reducing oedema. Massage also releases adhesions between layers of tissue, stimulates the nervous system, aids relaxation, increases tissue extensibility and improves joint range of motion. I use massage at very nearly all of my treatments as it is such an effective and versatile technique.

Sonny enjoying his massage!

After a few sessions, many animals learn to enjoy massage and relax as they learn to associate the therapist with someone who represents gentleness and comfort. I try to communicate with the animal, being responsive to any reactions or sensations I may feel.

There are several types of massages techniques. These include effleurage which consists of steady rhythmic strokes, invoking relaxation of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is a fantastic technique to warm up the tissues and use as a transition between other techniques.

Other massage techniques include petrissage, which is a wringing or kneading action. This helps to increase mobility between the tissues, mobilise deep scar tissue and built up tissue fluid as well as aiding venous and lymphatic return. Other techniques include compression, hacking, cupping, friction and skin rolling, all of which give varying but effective results.

Compression on Sonny

Gentle wringing on Sonny's back

During massage sessions, I will take care to note the reactions of the animal as a whole- watching the eyes, head position, movement and behaviour. I will adapt my massage to how the animal responds, either continuing with more pressure or less. This is because I want to create a positive experience for the animal, meaning that they are more likely to work with me in the session, as well as in the future. As demonstrated by Bruce below, both horses and dogs will often lean into me when massaging, as if asking for more!

Big Brucey leaning into his massage!

Just as I have said previously with palpation- I love massage because my eyes switch off, it is all about seeing with my hands to understand the tissue reaction taking place underneath them.

If you would like to find out more or have any queries on whether your animal may benefit from veterinary physiotherapy and massage, don’t hesitate to contact me by phoning me on

07545 251 008 or emailing me at .

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