Stretching exercises can be a part of your dog’s recovery program.
Proper stretching can increase flexibility and range of motion (ROM), relieve certain kinds of joint and muscle pain, stimulate nerve conduction and body awareness, heighten proprioception, improve performance, and help prevent injuries.
Muscles and connective tissue naturally tend to stiffen if they are overused or underused. Stiffness can result in injury, lead to inactivity, and eventually speed up the aging process of the musculoskeletal system. To remain supple, the connective tissue and muscles need regular stretching. Stiffness is a symptom and reaction to pain or discomfort, be it from overworking unprepared muscle groups (sore muscles), arthritis, spinal bone instability or fixation, even dental malfunction.
Massaging the body and properly stretching the joints will loosen muscles and connective tissue, sending signals to the mechanoreceptors about the joints and their capacity to flex and extend. Massage will help to eliminate toxins and lactic acid by improving circulation to the tissue, further reducing soreness.
Stretching also provides a pain-relieving effect, which might be due to an increased pain threshold or simply because the muscle becomes stronger. Through a regular stretching program, muscles become stronger and thus able to absorb more energy, which also reduces injury. The more energy muscle can absorb, the more resistant the muscle is to injury.
Important points to remember:
- Understand the goals or purpose and how to effectively deliver the exercises
- Be in a calm area where everyone is relaxed, as the stretching will be more productive if the muscles are not tense
- Take the time to do them correctly (no shortcuts)
- Always start conservatively then gradually increase the length of stretch, the angle or height of the stretch, and the number or repetitions
- Pay attention to the behavior or response(s) your pet gives with each stretch
- Keep notes on the changes you see so you can report to the doctor on your next visit
Benefits of Stretching Exercises:
- Pain relieving effect
- Strengthen muscles
- Reduce likelihood of injury when standing, sitting, jumping, etc.
- Relieve spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury
- Improve posture
- Good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post workout muscle fatigue and soreness
A good stretch will be comfortable and effective. A “bad” stretch will be met with resistance or failure to make any positive gain in flexibility, range of motion, or performance. Lack of improvement or an unwillingness to do the exercises indicates the current program should be stopped until you visit with our doctor.
With a regular routine consisting of a few three-to-five-minute exercises several days a week, your pet can begin to show improvement in as early as one week.
Purchase the DVD “Fitness in Motion® Stretching Exercises for Dogs.” Waatch it often, it will help you gain your confidence. $40