Bodywork works with fascia
Fascia or connective tissue holds the body together, wrapping around every muscle, tendon, ligament and bone. Reduced flexibility and holding patterns are caused by repeated actions, and compensations for pain or injury. Holding patterns tend to strengthen over time which is why elderly people may become bent, or our shoulders round and chins jut from working at a computer.
There are many types of bodywork, each having its own strengths. In my experience, there is no one-size fits-all with horses and bodywork. Just as individual as people are, some horses love strong, deep touch, while others melt under the lightest palpation. And their preference may change from session to session, or what part of their body is being treated. No matter the modality, bodywork engages with the tissues of the body to release stress and tension in order to rebalance itself so the horse can change towards greater freedom of movement and balance.
Bodywork benefits any horse, especially equine athletes in training, riding horses who need support to move better, horses on stall rest or rehab, and older horses who are getting stiff. The body holds emotional tension as well as physical. Bodywork sessions have transformed horses’ attitudes as well as their physical way of going because we’re all happier when our bodies feel good.
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle form of manual therapy with a less is more approach. It works with any tissue or aspect of the body to facilitate the body’s own healing abilities to remove, release, or reduce the negative effects of stress on the Central Nervous System which influences the entire body. Working with the craniosacral system which holds and protects the brain and spinal cord, Craniosacral Therapy can have a profound calming and rebalancing effect on the whole horse.
Structural Integration works to lengthen connective tissue or fascia. The elegance of structural integration is that after releasing restrictions in your horse’s tissues, the body naturally uses the additional ‘space’ to rebalance and realign itself where it is most needed.
Tui-Na is the manual therapy part of Chinese Medicine. Like all of Chinese Medicine, its purpose is to work with the body to bring it back to balance and health. I use a handful of strokes (out of hundreds) that involve bringing physical movement to the tissues of the horse’s body.
Reiki is life force energy focused through the practitioner. Practitioners are attuned to offer Reiki to individuals and situations without attachment to outcome, but for the highest good of all. Horses (and dogs and cats) love it, and it is a wonderful therapy when more direct touch is not appropriate.