The goals of stretching include relieving tension within the tissue, improving joint range of motion (ROM) and to improve proprioception (Body awareness). Restricted flexibility and muscle elasticity leaves your dog susceptible to injury.
There are two main types of stretching: passive and active. Active stretches, also known as baited stretches, are those performed where the animal is in complete control of how far the stretch goes. These types of stretches can also help to improve proprioception and core strengthening.
Passive stretches are those carried out by the practitioner with the animal in a static position. It is important that these are done correctly so that no damage is caused to the tissues.
Massage aims to assist in the repair process of the body by increasing circulation, reducing muscle spasm, improving flexibility/mobility and relieving pain.
The choice of massage technique is key to having an effective treatment. These may include effleurage, petrissage or tapotement dependent on the desired result and whether we want to relax the tissues or stimulate, tone and energise the body. Excessive force can cause damage to the tissues and hinder recovery, therefore, it is important to read both the animals immediate response and the after effects of the treatment.
Positional releases involve finding an area of restriction and instead of adding more pressure, the affected tissues are moved into a direction of ease. This tends to be a lot more tolerable and allows you to reduce pain whilst maintaining contact with the pain point. When an area is sore, the body often guards the region and resists the stretch due to the shortened muscle fibres. It is much more comfortable to move in the direction of contraction, thus, enabling the therapist to release hypertonicity in a less painful way.