Hannah Donnelly, Chartered Physiotherapist BSc (Hons) investigates the benefits of massage for horse riders, used alongside heat, to target the four main areas horse riders tend to commonly suffer with.
The benefits of massage for horse riders.
Massage has been used by therapists for thousands of years. Evidence suggests it is beneficial for a variety of musculoskeletal and health conditions such as:
- Lower back pain (Furlan, 2017).
- Neck and shoulder pain (Kong, 2013).
- Pain from osteoarthritis (Cortés Godoy, 2014).
- Headaches (Happe, 2016) and much more.
The extra physical benefits of massage include:
- Reducing excessive post-exercise muscle tone.
- Increasing range of motion.
- Increasing circulation and nutrition to damaged tissue.
- Deactivating symptomatic trigger points (Brukner and Kahn, 2012).
- There is also evidence to support the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The muscle soreness and stiffness we experience the day or two after we have exercised.
The benefits of heat for horse riders.
When you increase the temperature of the skin and soft tissue, the blood vessels widen, which leads to an increase in blood flow at a lower pressure. The metabolic rate and the tissue flexibility will also increase. Heat increases oxygen uptake and the rate of tissue healing.
Randomized control trials have shown that heat-wrap therapy provides short-term reductions in pain and movement restriction in patients with acute lower back pain and provides significantly greater pain relief of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) than cold therapy (Malanga, 2014). Brukner and Kahn (2012) suggest that heat is most suited for acute pain, muscle spasm, neck pain, and chronic pain and swelling.
Horse riders commonly suffer in the following areas:
Horse riders can build up tension in their lower back through rider/horse imbalance, reduced postural control, or repetitive impact, such as jumping. Along with lower back stretches, the Massage Mitt or Massage Mitt Hotspot can be used as demonstrated in the picture below. This can be done either before or after riding, to help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness and relieve painful trigger points.
Trapezius and deep neck flexors
Horse riders commonly experience tightness in their trapezius, shoulders, and deep neck flexors. This tightness comes from holding the reins and maintaining an upright posture. Physiotherapists commonly advise the use of heat/vibration massage in these areas to prevent muscle stiffness and for pain relief. The Massage Mitt or Massage Mitt Hotspot can be used as demonstrated in the picture below, either before or after riding, to target these areas.
Another area where horse riders often feel tightness after riding is in their hips. This is because the hips are a vital part of the posture, balance, and stability while in the saddle. Riders experience hip pain as the hip flexors are working hard to stay evenly upon the horse and control shock absorption when riding. Riders use their seat to control the horse, therefore it is important they are able to do so pain-free. If the rider experiences hip pain, it can mean the hip flexors are compensating for the lower back or gluteal muscles. The Massage Mitt or Massage Mitt Hotspot can be used as demonstrated in the picture below, either before or after riding, to prevent tension in these muscles.
An adductor muscle is responsible for drawing the limb towards the midline. Horse riders’ adductors are one of their strongest muscle groups, as they are used to control the horse from the saddle and are used for balance and postural stability. Because of this, horse riders’ adductors can become tense, overworked, and sore. This is most apparent when we start riding again after some time off! The Massage Mitt or Massage Mitt Hotspot can be used as demonstrated in the picture below, either before or after riding, to prevent tension in these muscles.
Looking for something to provide massage for horse riders, or massage and heat? Take a look at the Massage Mitt to provide massage.