SOFT TISSUE CONDITIONS
It is almost inevitable that at some point, all dogs will experience a muscular injury or issue. Muscles bring about movement and muscular injury or other issues can be caused by numerous things. Whilst sporting activities can cause muscular injuries or issues, it is frequently typical everyday activities which can cause the most problems. One of the biggest causes of muscular issues and injuries is actually laminate flooring!!
Clinical Canine Massage can often help in cases where lameness is intermittent and inconclusive X-Rays have led to difficulty in diagnosing the cause. The following is a list of common muscular and myofascial issues which, with veterinary consent, can be resolved or greatly helped with Clinical Canine Massage.
The most common muscular injury, a strain is when the muscle fibres (or tendon, which joins the muscle to the bone) are torn to some degree due to overstretching or overloading.
- Chronic (or repetitive strain injury). Caused by repetitive or prolonged movements which lead to micro-tears in the muscle or tendon. Examples include overuse due to orthopaedic conditions and sporting dogs who are frequently performing the same movements.
-Acute. An instant tear. Common causes include slipping on laminate flooring and sudden changes of direction when ball chasing.
The severity ranges from grade 1 (10% of fibres) through grade 2 (50% of fibres) to grade 3 which is a complete rupture and requires surgery.
Following a period of inflammation, the body repairs a strain by laying down scar tissue. This inefficient repair reduces the flexibility of the muscle by up to 50% and is vulnerable to restrain, frequently leading to a strain-re-strain cycle. Clinical Canine Massage can help by remodelling this scar tissue, restoring function and range of movement.
Commonly referred to as 'knots', a trigger point is a band of taught fibres within a muscle which has the ability to refer pain to other parts of the body, often some distance away. Trigger points are inevitable: they are the most common muscular issue in dogs, however, they can lead to debilitating levels of pain. They are often caused by prolonged, repetitive or compensatory activity and frequently lead to early onset fatigue. Clinical Canine Massage is extremely effective at releasing trigger points.
Bones are joined together by ligaments and when these bands of cartilage are damaged, it is called a sprain. Sprains vary in severity with 4 grades: 1 - minor tear/overstretch, 2 - moderate tear /overstretch with swelling, 3 - a complete rupture with extensive swelling and 4 - complete rupture taking bone with it. Progression from a grade 1 to a grade 2 or 3 is common if strict rehabilitation guidelines are not followed. The most commonly affected joints are the stifle (knee), tarsus (hock) and carpus (wrist). Clinical Canine Massage is particularly valuable for addressing the inevitable overcompensation required to take weight off the affected limb.
MYOFASCIAL PAIN SYNDROME
Fascia is the environment in which the nervous system lives. It is continuous throughout the body, like a giant web, encompassing all the internal organs, bones, muscles and skin. Fascia can become dysfunctional for many reasons such as injury, surgical procedures (including routine ones, for example, a spay), repetitive activities, dehydration, emotional trauma, conformational weaknesses, orthopaedic/neurological conditions and daily activities. It can also stick to itself and other structures, this is known as adhesion. I am trained in both direct and indirect myofascial release as well as the Lenton Method ® which specifically addresses myofascial pain.
Muscle splinting is a natural response by the body to protect a diseased/injured joint, or injured muscle from further damage. The surrounding muscles go into permanent spasm, restricting the movement of the joint or injured area. Over time, this actually makes the situation worse as the muscles and surrounding fascia become dysfunctional and can no longer support the joint or injured muscle. Clinical Canine Massage can address these areas of dysfunction allowing stability and support to be restored to the joint.
HYPERTONICITY AND TIGHT (SICK) MUSCLES
Hypertonicity and muscle tightness are often referred to as the same thing but they are actually different. A healthy muscle is a toned muscle but sometimes a muscle can have too much resting tone, to the point that it cannot relax, and this is hypertonicity. The muscle(s) will be hard to the touch and may even visibly bulge. A tight muscle is a 'sick' muscle, one which is held in a shortened state when at rest. This can often be seen as stiffness - improving with activity and worsening after rest. A hypertonic muscle may or may not be tight and a tight muscle may or may not be hypertonic. Both hypertonic and tight muscles usually respond very well to Clinical Canine Massage. Both issues are common and causes include daily activities, orthopaedic conditions, injury, trigger points, curved plastic beds and small crates.
A NOTE ABOUT EXERCISE
Cold muscles are more prone to injury. As with humans, it's important to allow time for your dog to warm up before exercise. This can be as simple as a controlled walk first before more strenuous or faster activities. Equally, if not more important, is giving them the chance to cool down afterwards as well.
Most dogs love to play but keep in mind that repetitive activities are a common cause of injury. One particular activity which is prone to causing soft tissue issues is the use of ball launchers. The sudden stops and changes in direction apply great torque and twisting forces onto joints which in turn puts excessive stresses onto the associated muscles, tendons and ligaments.