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Now that we know a little about the benefits of myofunctional therapy and the technology we use. Let's talk about some of the various applications.



Children, like small animals, require less pressure than human adults. Canine Pediatric massage techniques usually incorporate swedish massage maneuvers, such as petrissage, and effleurage. For example, one study focusing on evaluating the ability of massage to alleviate pain anxiety in children with cancer following intrathecal Therapy or bone marrow aspiration utilized gentle kneading, slow, steady pressure, and smooth , long, and rhythmic strokes to the body on the back, limbs, head, and neck. 


The term medical massage pertains to soft tissue techniques designed to address specific problems and achieve an objective, identifiable outcome. Medical massage practitioners employ Swedish techniques along with a host of other soft tissue interventions, including myofascial release, stretching, strengthening, the application of heat or cold, and more, depending on the needs of the patient, their diagnosis, and desired results. 


Therapists offering sports massage often treat patients before and or following an event. Prior to exercise, massage warms and invigorates muscle, improving blood flow and releasing restrictions for maximal strength and endurance. 

Deep tissue

Deep tissue massage usually incorporates Swedish massage strokes; however, we apply the strokes with more pressure to address tension and restriction in the deeper musculature. Deep tissue therapy can improve range of motion, benefits circulation, and restore function to one or more muscle groups. Mobilizing restricted connective tissue adhesions stimulates autonomic nerve fibers within the fascia, which may indirectly stimulate internal organ function. However, due to the pounds of pressure used, deep tissue massage is much less commonly performed on small animals due to risk of injury.


Acupressure resembles acupuncture in terms of treating specific locations derived from the acupuncture point matrix. Goals of acupressure include pain control and alleviation of various systemic conditions. If your dog does not like the needles used during acupuncture, this is a great alternative therapy. In some cases, acupressure can be used for chronic pain and stiffness from lameness, back pain, and all forms of arthritis.  

Myofacial trigger point release

Myofascial restriction develops into trigger points, and taut bands feel firm and ropy. These trigger points and taut bands arise secondary to strain, overuse, inactivity, and pathological reflexes mediated by the nervous system. Trigger points issue predictable pain to referral zones when compressed, and taught bands embody groups of shorten fibers with any muscle. When “strummed” taut bands and trigger points may also instigate pain locally and along referral routes. Further, a twitch in the muscle following its palpation verifies the presence of a pathological portion of muscle. The various manual therapy techniques included in myofascial trigger point release therapy allows us to reduce the reactivity of muscle and alleviate neuro irritability worsened by poor perfusion to the tissue.

Manual lymphatic drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) manages lymphedema, the accumulation of excess fluid in the body when lymphatic drainage pathways become obstructed, which may occur after surgery or trauma. The MLD therapist gently strokes along lymphatic vessels and over lymph nodes in order to facilitate passive return of lymph fluid to the vascular system. MLD differs from conventional massage by utilizing very little pressure, and the hands do not slide over the skin. Instead we gently compress and stretch the skin and subcutaneous tissue in order to stimulate flow of lymph through lymphatic capillaries. Movements work toward the heart, paralleling venous and lymphatic flow.


The most commonly and the most well researched approach is Swedish Massage. Also known as the classic muscular massage. Swedish massage incorporates several techniques, including effleurage (stroking and gliding) tapotement, (percussion like tapping) petrissage (kneading) and friction massage. Each method produces somewhat different effects, allowing the therapist to tailor approaches to the specific needs of a given patient.


 Below are some of the foundations and treatment techniques used


Effleurage typically follows the contour of the animal’s body, the direction of the venous blood flow, or the direction of the hair coat, depending on the intention of the session. That is, not all effleurage strokes need to flow toward the heart. Superficial effleurage encourages interstitial fluid enter lymph vessels, whereas deeper treatment begins to resemble Petrissage. Effleurage allows the practitioner to palpate body topography and explore underlying tissues when performed more deeply rather than superficially. Effleurage is typically performed at the beginning and end of most massage treatments and prepares tissues for deeper strokes. 


The petrissage stroke resembles kneading bread dough. The practitioner lifts the soft tissue from the underlying bone with either one or both hands by wringing, squeezing, or scooping the tissue. This stroke softens the superficial fascia and relaxes the muscle.


This is an extremely versatile technique. It can be used to assess the general quality  and the level of resting tension of larger skeletal muscles. Compression can also be used to achieve effects on circulation, relax muscle tension, and increase rib cage mobility.

Skin rolling 

This technique releases tension in the myofascia by employing the thumb and fingers to gently lift and hold a segment of skin and connective tissue and then advance along the back or limb. 


Trigger point release

Trigger points exhibit poor blood flow, due to sustained contraction of involved muscle fibers and an unhealthy pulling on nearby structures due to ongoing shortening at the epicenter. Thus, treatment goals for trigger point release include improving local blood flow and allowing the tense tissue to "melt" and lengthen.  


This technique involves the thumbs and fingertips working deep circles into the thickest part of the muscle. Friction is a faster technique than effleurage, and variations in speed allow friction to have different effects on the body. Friction impacts local healing in the area affected by either trauma or inflammations.

Stretching fundamentals

Why stretch? There are five basic principles for safely and effectively stretching the patient. 

  1. The muscles should be warm. This means you should stretch your dog after taking a walk or engaging in some physical activity
  2. The muscles must be completely relaxed. In our canine companions this means we need them to lie down before we begin to stretch them. 
  3. We will stabilize the joint by holding it firmly. When the bones are held correctly it sends a signal to the spinal cord and brain that the joint is secure so the muscles can relax. It also sends a signal to the dog “you are safe. I have you. You can relax.”
  4. We will stretch the muscles using the straight plane movement. This means holding the long bones of the limbs in alignment with the joints . This alignment ensures we don't put the wrong pressure through the joint and stretch something we didn't intend to stretch (like the medial ligaments of the stifle) 
  5. A stretch must be held for 30 seconds to reach both the elastic and non elastic fibers of the muscle. It is this combination of these fibers that once stretched will decrease the risk of muscle and joint injury for a healthy and pain free life 
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