EQUINE FLEXION THERAPY
Equine Flexion Therapy offers a comprehensive approach for the evaluation and treatment of the misaligned skeletal system, the system of tissues, and the muscles in the body.
This technique is designed to release restrictions such as trigger points, muscle tightness, and dysfunctions in soft tissue that may cause pain and limit motion in all parts of the body. Unreleased muscle contractions (UMC's) can put pressure on the spine, hips, sacrum, sacroiliac joints, and more. The shortened muscle is attached through a tendon, and can pull the spine out of alignment. These are not visible on x-ray which causes an issue for diagnosing. In bad cases, a horse may be kicked out to pasture to rest but brought back in and continue to have the same reoccurring problem time after time. Or an older horse perceived as "used up and lame" needs the help and benefits from EFT. Addressing issues and regular maintenance before injuries and overcompensation happens is the key to keeping our equine athletes sound and happy.
In professional athletes or everyday riders and people, we commonly see injuries or pain that are connected to other parts of the body. Examples of this are the complaint of lower back pain. Often, we view this as the "tip of the iceberg" per say. The iceberg may be the lower back, but it is underneath it that is what matters. The common answer to the lower back are muscle relaxers, pain pills, and/or ice which is just addressing the lower back and covering the symptoms. Not treating the problem. The correct fix is what is connected to it- tightness in the hamstrings and glutes. An easy and simple fix that would never have been thought of ends up with months or years of pain because the whole picture is overlooked. Humans often have injuries such as a pulled groin muscle. This leads to overcompensation of the opposite side which can also injure the side that we are overcompensating on due to overuse. These are all common problems in our equine partners as well because we do not look at the horse as a whole.
When the musculoskeletal system is stressed from overuse, poor body mechanics, and trauma, it can tear and glue itself together to make small patches of tightly contracted muscle. When trigger points are present, on the microscopic level, part of the muscle fiber is contracted into a small thickened area, and the rest of the fiber is stretched thin. Several of these muscle fiber contractions in the same area, being ‘gummed up’ are probably what we feel as a “knot” in the muscle.
None of this is conducive to smooth muscle function. These patches build up and become “trigger points” which can prevent the muscles from working well and will need some care and attention to get smoothed out.
When pressed, trigger points feel like “knots” or tight bands in the muscle, and are usually very tender. Healthy muscles usually do not contain knots or tight bands, are not tender to pressure, and when relaxed, they feel soft and pliable to the touch, not hard and dense, even in a fit sport horse.
A successful treatment protocol relies on identifying trigger points, resolving them, and if all trigger points have been deactivated, elongating the structures affected along their natural range of motion and length. In the case of muscles, which is where most treatment occurs, this involves stretching the muscle using combinations of passive, active, active isolated, muscle energy techniques, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching to be effective. After addressing the muscles, the skeletal system is then viewed to insure proper alignment.
Benefits of Equine Flexion Therapy
CORRECTS MUSCLE IMBALANCES
EFT helps promote muscle relaxation which in return helps avoid muscles restrictions giving positive feedback to the central nervous system to move in balance helping keep the skeletal system aligned.
SPEEDS UP MUSCLE RECOVERY
Knots and tension in our muscle hinder blood flow. EFT speeds up circulation because it works to increase blood circulation to the body. Pulls in the fascia cause the immune system's lymphatic flow to become sluggish.
EFT increases the circulation of lymph throughout the body which thus increases the speed and recovery time from injuries and illness.
IMPROVES JOINT RANGE OF MOTION
EFT can break up "knots"
(which restrict range of motion) in muscles, which can help reduce joint stress increasing the range of motion. EFT also increases synovial joint fluid
IMPROVES NEUROMUSCULAR ACTIVITY
Neuromuscular efficiency refers to the ability of the nervous system to properly recruit the correct muscles to produce and reduce force as well as dynamically stabilize the body's structure in all three planes of motion. Neuromuscular efficiency improves by two cellular factors; muscle fiber recruitment and rate coding. EFT aids in both oxygenation and relaxation of the muscle fibers which can increase the speed at which muscle fibers are recruited for work.