keskiviikko 4. maaliskuuta 2015

Dog’s muscle care

Dog’s physical condition should be taken care of at least as well as its owner takes care of him or herself. To my opinion dog’s muscle care is primarily massage that may be done by oneself or by a professional. Dog’s muscle care is also about daily routine, balance in trainings, regular veterinary appointments and appropriate nutrition, and also, owners so called good dog eye! This means ability to observe dog’s appearance and behavior at home, during the walks and in trainings.
How does its body work, what is it trying to say? For example, a dog may seem normal while at home or during the walks. But once it’s taken to a training field it begins to limp or is imbalanced either of its back, head or shoulders. It may carry the tail one-sided or behave aggressively towards other dogs. Typically the initial symptoms in dog’s body problems appear like mentioned. These minor flaws or one-sided motions are important to notice and be treated at this point to avoid the worst, interruption of the trial season.
Why should a sports dog get a massage? Massage quickens the blood circulation that removes lactic acid and other metabolic waste faster from muscles. Removing metabolic waste and muscle relaxation relieve also the pain. Massage improves dog’s immune system, muscle balance and oxygen uptake.
Massage should consist of basic massage that is done during off-season as well as massage during the training season, massage during trial season and stretching. Training a dog on the top level is such a full-year package and stresses dog’s body so one-sided that one might think professional body maintenance should be a part of every sports dog’s training program.
Basic massage is preventive care before trial season or hard exercise. It is a good help to treat tears, tendon injuries, joint sprains, old injuries and post-surgery rehabilitation.
Massage during off-season: When I say off-season I mean dog’s ability to “charge” its senses, peaceful and safe co-existence with the owner, long and easy-going walks out in the nature and nice unstressed activities.
Massage during training season: One cannot reach the results with only big muscles and supplements. Motion has a big importance. It holds and maintains joint movements. Well moving joints are essential to muscle flexibility!
Then talking about the body treatment during the trial season: A dog just about to go to a trial should not be massaged, because a massage is relaxing and a dog may even become a bit limp right after it. It is also possible that muscles still have residues of lactic acid and metabolic waste after an exercise that slows down the normal recovery time. That is why massage is not recommended immediately after an exercise. The body should recover on its own for a while.  Knowing your dog helps here. Massage during recovery time is light and doesn’t take long.
Stretching: Dogs origin from predators: They are able to dose the level of activity by nature as well as stretch. According to my experience, a dog that is in good condition and has healthy joints, does not need extra man-made stretching.
Annika Tähtinen
The author is a trained chiropractor.

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