Increased Equine Performance Through Myofascial Release

By Maxine Vashro Wyatt

Myofascial release allows the body to work in harmony. When an area of the body is injured, neglected, stressed, or overused, it becomes like a snag in a sweater. This snag affects not only the “pulled” area but the entire sweater. The body rejects these parts. Myofascial release allows the body to align itself again.

Fascia is a tough connective tissue that spreads through the body in a three-dimensional web from head to hoof (or foot in humans!). Fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel and organ, all the way to the cellular level.

The fascial system has three basic components: elastin (for stretch), collagen (for strength), and a gel-like ground substance (for support and protection of the cell). This system provides stability and cushion, forms ligaments, tendons, and fascial sheaths. It also provides for locomotion and flexibility. When the fascia is restricted, toxicity increases, and the area loses its ability to soften and stretch. Fascial restrictions further contribute to poor cellular and lymphatic efficiency, decrease range of motion and increased friction with movement.
Myofascial release (MFR) addresses these soft tissue restrictions. MFR is a hands-on technique that stretches the restricted soft tissue. A sustained pressure is applied to the tissue barrier. After a sequence of releases, the tissue becomes soft and pliable. The restoration of length to the tissue takes pressure off the blood and nerve vessels as well as restoring alignment and mobility to the joints.

In the equine, myofascial release allows the horse to perform its commanded tasks. The hunter jumper characteristically forms restrictions in the shoulder, back and hind quarters. The driving horse creates restrictions in the neck, shoulders, chest, and glutes. Prior to treatment, an evaluation should be done which includes the horse’s job, history, and housing. Recommendations are made from the obtained knowledge.

MFR can assist with increased range of motion, increased circulation and decreased edema, decreased pain, release scar tissue, and restore natural strength, power and endurance to the horse (or human).

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