Physical Muscular Development

There is a designated area for the dogs to receive physical muscular development exercises; these types of exercises target the canine athletes to develop their strength and stamina. In addition to this, these physical muscular exercises are extremely beneficial to dogs that are recovering from injuries, or have reduced mobility.

These exercises are organised to a level, which is appropriate to improve the dog’s natural core strength at the same time improving their muscle formation. The exercises are personalised to each dog according to their abilities and levels of fitness. These exercises are ideal for the juvenile and veteran dogs as they involve low impact exercises, which improve flexibility balance, co-ordination and encourage spatial awareness. For the fit sound adult dog, the exercises are adapted to be more intense, increasing the core stability and assisting in providing stronger muscular support for the dogs joints. From this, the dog can achieve an improvement in their athletic performance by helping to improve stamina and mobility; this in turn helps to reduce the risk of injury. The dogs are encouraged by simple techniques to perform the task required, this may include treats, which we all know dogs enjoy.

In addition to these development exercises, at Snowy’s Canine Therapy Centre you can be guided to improve your dog’s performance at an event or competition or even assisting him on a daily basis before going out for a walk, with some pre and post event techniques. Here’s a brief explanation of what can be performed and achieved, if you would like to know more or attend a workshop, please get in contact with us.

Pre Event Warm Up

All canines can benefit from a pre event warm up; the strain placed on a muscle from cold without prior warm up is immense. A pre event warm up aids in the building of the muscle integrity. Muscle fibres have a huge amount of strain put on them, damage can occur anywhere within the muscle, however, the risk of damage is most commonly found at their point of insertion. This is why attention should be given to apply a pre event warm up for any type of event.

A pre event warm up does not only have to be for competition, training, or performing, it is beneficial to use on an everyday exercise basis. What needs to be taken into account is to effectively target the muscles that are going to be used. Reflection should be given to the exercises that are appropriate for the type of event the dog is taking part in.

Now let us consider the warm up massage, but it must be understood that a warm up massage does not replace a thorough physical warm up. The warm up massage helps muscles work for longer and more efficiently by influencing the increase in circulation, reducing muscle tension, and increasing the flexibility of tight muscle groups. A warm up massage should be delivered from approximately 40mins up to 20 minutes before exercise.

The massage should be;

  • Brisk but not rough, therefore quick and warming
  • Relatively light
  • Non specific
  • Initially use effleurage as a technique
  • Always keep one hand in constant contact with the dog
  • Follow the contours of the body
  • Follow the line of fur

Once the body has been warmed up with effleurage, further techniques can be used such as;

  • Petrissage Techniques
  • Skin Rolling
  • Compression
  • Digital kneading over joints
  • Vee spread
  • Cross-fibre

The above techniques should only be applied superficially as not to cause an inflammatory response

Other techniques that can be applied are;

  • Tendon release
  • Percussion
  • Passive movement – should be conducted in the standing position

(The above techniques should really only be performed by an experienced massage therapist or someone that has received appropriate training)

There are various physiological aspects that a pre event warm up can achieve, here are some of them;

  • Tissues are warmed
  • Muscle fibre elasticity is increased
  • Heart and respiration rate is increased
  • Muscles are flushed with fresh blood and minerals
  • Helps aid in the prevention of premature fatigue
  • Muscle and joint temperature is increased
  • Muscles that are warm become more efficient and flexible
  • An increase in the range of motion of the joints is achieved

A pre-event massage or some hands on therapy can also assist a highly driven dog that may become over excited, thus using his energy in a non-productive way. Therefore, the dog’s heart rate can be lowered, the dog can take on a calmer attitude, this in turn can lead to the dog having more focus to the activity and being more receptive to the handler’s commands.

It should be understood that a pre-event warm up is not the time to start making any significant muscle changes by using any deep inflammatory techniques.

The psychological benefits of a pre event warm up are that they give the dog the opportunity to focus its mind on the task ahead therefore, preparing him both mentally and physically for the activity, in addition to this it aids in connecting the dog and the handler and assists them in their motivation.

Post Event Warm Down

The post event warm down is as equally important as the pre-event warm up. A warm down can greatly influence a dog’s performance in the next event. The warm down will encourage the dog’s blood, to cleanse its muscles of the toxins and metabolic wastes that have been generated from exertion. In addition to this, the warm down will enable the muscles to remain supple and aid in the prevention of them stiffening and could avert the onset of delayed muscle soreness, therefore, promoting longevity through good muscular health.

A big advantage of applying a post event massage is that it allows the handler to have the opportunity to detect even a small injury or any heat and manage it appropriately. This may be from a small injury such as damage to the dog’s claw or pad, or a contraindicative injury that would require veterinary advice instead of Myotherapy treatment.

The warm down massage can be carried out up to 4 hours (but no later) after exercise; this would be once the body has regained homeostasis. The post event massage must be performed gently and sympathetically, with the understanding that there could be areas of tenderness and soreness. The massage should be light, slower and relaxing, with a slight pumping action and working towards major lymphatic nodes and consist of;

  • Gentle effleurage, directing the strokes towards the main areas of lymphatic drainage
  • Dependant on the dog’s condition, slightly increased pressure of effleurage can be applied
  • Skin rolling
  • Compression
  • Petrissage – deep and superficial
  • Tendon release
  • Passive movement – can be performed in a standing or laying down position

There are various physiological aspects that a post event warm up can achieve, here are some of them;

  • Promotion of capillary function
  • The dog’s body temperature is lowered
  • A soothing effect is generated on the nerve endings
  • Promotes good circulation
  • Rebalanced oxygenation within the muscle cells
  • Aids in promoting arterial circulation, which allows the body to deliver good levels of oxygen and nutrition to the muscle fibres.
  • Loosens muscles and influences arterial blood to promote healing and flexibility.
  • Encourages good muscle function in preparation for future activity.

The psychological difference that a post event massage can make is massive. It can make a difference to the dog’s outlook and memory of the event as it reinforces the bond between the handler and dog, which therefore enables a reconnection involving both the dog and handler. The negative signals from the handler can be avoided by a post event massage. Promotes relaxing and stress related symptoms both psychologically and physiologically. Primarily it also helps the handler feel good about caring for their dog.