Monday, 13 February 2017

Love running! Love your dog! Go running with your dog? 5 things you should keep in mind...

 Love running! Love your dog! Go running with your dog?  5 things you should keep in mind

Carmen Goodwin of Auckland Therapeutic and Sports Massage is a massage therapist of the human kind who loves her running, almost as much as she loves her dog. Here is what she recommends you keep in mind before you take your pooch for a jog.

1) The breed
Some dogs do have an easier time to breathe well, than others. Flat nosed dogs often struggle to breathe efficiently enough to be taken for a run. Some dogs on the other hand have a grand heritage of running, chasing and fetching. Much like some humans can't stop running, others would not be seen in the dead of night in their active wear! 

2 ) Hydration 
When we humans go for a run, of course we make sure we are properly hydrated by having plenty to drink before, during and after your run. It is important to drink before you get thirsty. The same applies to your dog. Hydration is key, so make sure you are somewhere with plenty of water stops, so your dog can drink when he or she needs to. 

3 ) Warm up and pace
When you start on your run, you want to give your body a chance to get your circulation going. This is both essential to prevent injury and to slowly increase your heart rate . Yup, you guessed it - exactly the same for your dog. Slowly does it, picking up pace only after the first 5 or 10 minutes of a gentle jog. It is easy to get carried away, but remember to run together - not drag each other along.
4) Stretch and recover 
When you are finished with your run, enjoy the wind down. Have a stretch while your muscles are warmed up, let your heart rate settle and give yourself a pat on the back. And while you're there, why not do the same for your four legged friend? Give your companion a big heartfelt hug and enjoy those endorphins together.

5) Have a massage 
Regular running will build up condition in your muscles, increase your cardio vascular fitness and help you sleep better. Making time for a regular massage will not only aid your muscles' recovery, it also provides some valuable downtime to fully relax and mentally wind down. You know that face of pure joy on your dogs face, when they have a massage ? Well guess what....

Carmen Massage Therapist

Carmen Goodwin is the principal therapist at Auckland Therapeutic and Sports Massage with more than 16 years of experience. The clinic team offer expert treatments for elite athletes, to weekend warriors as well as sports teams and age group competitors. Book online today with the code Canine in the booking to get a 15% discount on your first treatment.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Injured or ill - how can massage help?

If you’ve ever had a massage you will understand what I’m about to say, but if you haven’t….here’s what you’re missing.

Day to day life can be tough on our bodies.  Through everyday wear and tear, our gait, things we do repetitively or sports we might play, we tighten up in some places whilst in others we might lose some muscle tone.  Where we’ve developed tight areas, they can start to get painful as knots develop, and other muscles begin to compensate.

Then imagine if you’re very sick.  Your body is battling the sickness together with any secondary issues that may trigger, and you feel generally pretty pants.  Low energy, off your food, lethargic, can’t be bothered.

Now go for a massage.

In the first instance, if you have sore or tight muscles, tension in these areas will be released and you will feel your movement become freer.  Your less active muscles have been stimulated.  That nagging ache you’ve been carrying around through your right leg has gone.  You can twist to your left and you don’t feel it pull anymore.  You’ve also just spent the best part of an hour in a totally restful state and feel rejuvenated, ready to start all over again!

For the second example, for you it’s less about removing knots, more about providing comfort and care.  Purposefully allowing time to relax, feel the gentle sweep of hands across your body, gently easing sore areas and allowing your mind to relax and release.  Endorphins are released into your bloodstream which act as natural painkillers and mood elevators.  There is a reason that massage therapy is available in hospices.  It makes you feel good.  It helps you feel better, and your system to reset itself which assists natural healing.  It doesn’t cure an illness but it helps improve quality of life.

Now imagine this is your dog we are talking about.  

Monday, 1 February 2016

The hidden treasures of a Kong...

When I talk to people about what I do, they often assume that the dogs fall asleep straight away.
Ha ha!  If only it were that simple ;)

Now don’t get me wrong, those who don’t fall sound sleep certainly don’t hate it, and the whole point of low stress handling and going at the pace of the dog is that they learn to get used to the touch in their own time.  But, in terms of whether they all go to sleep, well not all dogs are equal as we already know and whilst some absolutely do go to sleep – truly asleep - you do also get the other extreme. 

This is where Bailey comes in….

I have been seeing Bailey regularly for about 10 months now.  He is a beautiful 15 year old English Cocker Spaniel with a history of compressed discs in his lumbar spine.  We started off with weekly 60min sessions, and as his condition improved we tailed it off so now he has 30 min maintenance sessions every 3 weeks.

When I first started working with Bailey he just couldn’t settle.  The first 3 sessions involved a lot of trust building, as is often the case, but he still just didn’t really seem to settle.  Every time I touched him he got super excited and wriggled around, which whilst highly amusing was no good for trying to work his muscles!  It wasn’t that the massage was hurting him, it is just the way he reacts to touch.  It wasn’t until we struck on the idea of using a Kong that Bailey really started to benefit from massage.

So now, for 30mins every 3 weeks Bailey enjoys a Kong filled with biscuits and mashed sweet potato which focuses his mind while I massage him and work on all his problem areas.  He looks round at me every once in a while as if to say “oh, it’s you…I’d forgotten” and then gets back to his Kong.  Check out the link to the video to see how this works. 

Afterwards he falls sound asleep. 

I was explaining this to someone the other day and they asked me whether he still benefited from massage if that was the case.  I likened it to our human massages –if you’re anything like me sometimes you just stay wide awake and alert.  Your muscles though still benefit from the work.  So physiologically during the session Bailey’s body is getting the benefit of massage, and then both psychologically and physiologically when he sleeps afterwards he is allowing his body to repair and rejuvenate itself.

Bailey is rather unique…whilst a number of the dogs I work on do sometimes need some sort of distraction (like a gentle tickle under the chin from their owner every now and then, or the odd treat), this kind of reaction is not something I encounter with all my clients!

Thank you Bailey, for being you J

Monday, 23 November 2015

Taking a "holistic" view...

I recently met an ageing pooch with spondylosis.  
He was receiving hydrotherapy treatment to strengthen his hind limbs and provide some gentle exercise.  Whilst he was standing waiting for his session I could see the muscle atrophy through his hind limbs, and his balance was off too.

He wasn’t a client of mine but I briefly felt around his neck and chest area and noted that his whole front area was rock solid.  This particular dog would be more prone than others to a bulked up chest area due to his genetic build, however a lot of the tightness would likely come from compensating for the issues generated through his spinal and hind limb area.

Consider for a moment what happens when you are on all fours on the floor....seriously, get down on your hands and knees so you are on all fours and try this; Now remove one leg from the floor so you’re balancing on 3 limbs – note how your balance shifts and you put more weight through the other limbs to compensate; Now put that leg back down and try to haul yourself forwards without using your back legs to propel you - notice what happens now?  Ok, so I know this is an extreme (and simplified) example but it’s worth just reflecting for a minute on what our dogs have to contend with.

Now imagine you were to go for a walk in the water.  This would obviously help you because the buoyancy of the water would mean the pressure on your joint and limbs would be less, but you’d still be working that front area and not fully releasing those tight muscles.  Imagine how much free’er the movement would be, and the dog would feel, if the muscles (especially around the front) weren’t as tight. 

Massage can really help relieve the pain associated with overcompensation, and the mobility and flexibility can be encouraged by releasing tension in the tissues.

So whilst the inspiration for this post came from seeing a dog with spondylosis, the same principle can be applied to any dog with any of a number of hind limb issues…Massage combined with hydrotherapy is extremely beneficial J

Watch out for my next post… I took Asha to receive some treatment earlier and I’ll tell you all about it….

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Massage for conditions such as arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia...

It’s that time of year again - cold and damp - when our dogs with conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia seem to suffer a bit more.

I remember when our dog Asha was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia at 9 months old and the word arthritis was mentioned I thought it was the end of the world.  I imagined no more stick chasing, years of expensive treatment, mobility issues and a reduced quality of life.  I have learnt a lot since then.

Dogs affected by these conditions are in a similar situation to humans whereby changes in the weather, sleeping on hard surfaces and exercise which was previously ok can bring on varying degrees of pain and mobility problems.  They can affect dogs of any size or breed although some are certainly more prone than others, and discomfort ranges from extreme pain to minor discomfort.

Massage makes sense when keeping a dogs tissue as healthy as possible in order to keep the dog moving.  Whilst massage certainly cannot cure this, it can help relieve the secondary condition of muscle tightness and pain.  From a muscular perspective, the muscles tighten around the area of discomfort to protect it, but over time excessive or prolonged tightening can lead to these muscles becoming ischemic (blood flow is impeded) and trigger points (knots) developing.  Because the blood flow can’t get there, waste (such as lactic acid) builds up and the muscles themselves start to hurt.

And let us not forget about the rest of the body when one or more parts aren’t functioning optimally…other parts and other muscles become strained from overwork and compensating to protect the painful area, allowing the dog to keep moving….and the cycle starts again!

Massage therapy stimulates the circulation and gradually releases the muscle tension to increase the blood flow.  Increasing the blood flow to the tissues helps reduce soreness and congestion and promotes joint health.  Improved blood flow around the joint improves flexibility and reduces pain.

I have a number of clients with dysplasia or arthritis in some shape or form and comments following massage have included:
“…she even ran a bit which she hasn’t in ages…”, “…she voluntarily jumped up on the bed…”, “…she seemed so much more flexible and her mood seemed brighter.”, “Going down the stairs he is so much better – not looking so stiff…”, “…he jumped into the back of the car so much easier after the massage than he did before.”

And on that note, I’m off to give Asha her weekly session ;)

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Here is Kingston's story...

I met Kingston, a beautiful 5 year old Great Dane, back in December 2014.   In November 2014 Kingston had been frolicking with his best friend Cleo – a 10 month old English Mastiff – when he fell backwards into the pond.  Unfortunately for Kingston, this meant he partially tore his right cruciate ligament.

When I met him he was being rested by his pet parents and was on lead walks only…no free range galloping around on the property!
Options provided for recovery were rest and confinement, and surgery.  His owners didn't want to go down the surgery route so were looking at other options.

The first time I saw Kingston I noted that he was not bearing weight on his right hind limb and his medial stifle joint felt larger on palpation than the left.  The second time I met him, we discussed hydrotherapy as a compliment to the massage, to help build up the strength of the muscles in his right leg as he was on minimal other exercise.

From a massage perspective it is important to not only work the tissue around the affected limb but also work the whole body.  On most occasions I see him I release trigger points in various places which means knots are being worked out from his muscles.  By keeping the tissue healthy and flexible in his other limbs, and throughout his body, it reduces the chance of further injury due to stiffness and tension.  By way of example I broke my rib go-karting once and I’m sure it had something to do with the tension and stiffness in my body which meant that on impact I didn't flex, I snapped L

Massage is not going to “cure” or “mend” the torn ligament but together with the regular hydrotherapy he is now weight bearing more and reports from the family are that he seems happier in himself.  He is still not fully functional in that leg, and he might not be but the massage and hydrotherapy has formed an important maintenance plan for him. 

I absolutely love my sessions with Kingston – he greets me so enthusiastically every time I arrive….and he even snored for me once J

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Stats and Stories.....

2038   Blog page views
13       Days since Auckland Canine Massage has been officially open for business
348     Number of days since I first discovered canine massage was a “thing”
15       Days since website and Facebook page went live
128     Facebook likes
171     Days since my first blog post
6         Average age of my current four legged client base
Hundred’s - the hours of canine massage I have performed J

I've been asked a few times over the last week how and why I got into this field and over dinner this week a friend asked me whether I had exhibited any behaviours when I was younger that suggested I might eventually find myself massaging dogs for a living. 

When I asked my Mum she confirmed that as a child I always loved dogs.  Apparently, aged 6, I used to say that our English Cocker Spaniel (Misty) was MY dog, and I would get extremely upset when on returning from school and taking her for a walk as soon as I let her off the lead in the field she would run home to my mother!  Mum was at home, I was at school – makes sense now right.  
I was never afraid of dogs despite being bitten by a very cute West Highland White Terrier when I was about 5 – it was totally my fault!  I’d been told repeatedly not to touch strange dogs and especially not to put my hand through fences and gates to touch them, but I did – the little hand went through the gate and the dog bit me. He broke the skin but there was no lasting damage! Mum also remembered a time when I was allowed to walk their friends Springer Spaniel on the lead and was practically airborne with him pulling me down the lane.
It’s not Throwback Thursday I know, so here’s a few Freaky Friday photo’s of me growing up with our dogs…don’t judge me!

When I realised I’d gone as far as I wanted to go in my corporate career I really hoped that I would be able to work with dogs, but I wasn't sure in what capacity.  So when 348 days ago I saw someone perform a canine massage it was like a light went off and I said That’s it!  I remember coming home and phoning Mum to tell her and I could feel her smile to herself down the phone.

Having done my training though it does have its challenges…no longer do I simply smile and coo at dogs that walk past – now I look at them more intently and observe their gait.  I was walking to the butcher the other day and I could see a dog in the distance and I was watching its gait very closely.  Something didn't look quite right and sure enough when I got closer, it was a very old dog with a very old dog gait.

Up until now this blog has been all about me and my journey to become a Canine Massage Therapist but I’m open to ideas on related topics that you’re interested in.  If you leave a comment either on the blog or message me through the Auckland Canine Massage Facebook page I’ll incorporate your ideas into future posts….

Have a great weekend everyone J