The will to win begins with great preparation – don’t miss musculoskeletal pain

Equestrian sport and horse racing are sports where, in the blink of an eye, events can be won or lost, explains equine musculoskeletal therapist Laura Stephenson. 

Being able to identify problems early allows for quicker preventative intervention, enabling the horse to maximise his/her athletic potential sooner rather than later.

Human athletes benefit from support teams that recognise and treat athletic injuries such as muscle fatigue, stiffness, soreness, and micro-tears before they interfere with training. With horses, it is less acknowledged that muscle injury can be a reason for unsoundness and poor performance.

With horses, it is less acknowledged that muscle injury can be a reason for unsoundness and poor performance.”

Unlike people, horses cannot tell us when they are experiencing discomfort. Musculoskeletal pain is often missed or misread, leading to chronic pain sites and loss of performance.

Youngsters born with or acquiring an abnormality that affects the musculoskeletal system will need immediate help to grow and respond without compromising future ability.

If not remedied early,  irregularities will place excess strain on joints and ultimately interfere with speed and agility.

Horses will continue to move and perform with muscle strains or spasms, but during exercise, these small spasms recruit more fibres until increased discomfort begins to affect posture, gait, attitude and performance. Restrictions will continue until the horse receives appropriate bodywork.

If we focus on the science of building better athletes, we can develop a better racehorse.

Strengthening and conditioning muscles equally, bestows full range of motion, correct skeletal alignment, maintains correct biomechanics of joints and maintains comfort. This reduces the risk of soreness and injury.

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