Intense Exercise, Muscle Soreness, Recovery, and Anti-inflammatories

Intense Exercise, Muscle Soreness, Recovery, and Anti-inflammatories

Rehab Deb’s Comments: One of the most important bits of this report is something I’ve been reading more and more research regarding, and that is that nsaids (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) subdue, limit, delay the healing process. I have also read several reports regarding the same being true when ice is used.

Nsaids in animal medicine include Previcox, Peroxicam, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Metacam, among others…and for humans include Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Tylenol, Aspirin, Aleve (sodium naproxen), etc…Does this mean to cut them out altogether? No, but I do think it means to consider the necessity of application and what is hoped to be achieved…is it really necessary?? Pain is often very well controlled or minimized by combining smaller doses of several analgesics, pain relievers, depending on the issue, rather than higher doses of just one medication and/or continuous doses of nsaids that probably aren’t doing much to help the pain problem.

This is only one suggestion.

Ultimately this information should be discussed with the medical practitioner who prescribed the meds in the first place if/when you have questions. There are other reasons to minimize nsaids and use Tramadol and/or Gabapentin and/or other analgesics to alleviate pain for the short run while building muscle to support damaged joints. Many practitioners are aware of using these other drugs, and while they may not know about this more recent news regarding nsaids delaying healing and muscle growth, which came out of human sport science, veterinarians in my area seem to be interested in the information when it is presented to them.

Article from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health E-Zine
May 6, 2012

How to Recover from Muscle Soreness Caused by Intense Exercise

Muscle soreness should be part of every exercise program.  If you don’t exercise intensely enough on one day to have sore muscles on the next, you will not gain maximum fitness and you are also losing out on many of the health benefits of exercise. The benefits of exercise are much greater with intense exercise than with casual exercising.

You must damage your muscles to make them grow and become stronger.  When muscles heal, they are stronger than they were before you damaged them. All athletes train by “stressing and recovering”. On one day, they take a hard workout in which they feel their muscles burning.  Eight to 24 hours after they finish this intense exercise, their muscles start to feel sore. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Then they take easy workouts until the soreness is gone, which means that their muscles have healed.
DOMS IS CAUSED BY MUSCLE DAMAGE. Muscles are made up of fibers. The fibers are made up of a series of protein blocks called sarcomeres that are lined in a long chain. When you stretch a muscle, you stretch apart the sarcomeres in the chain. When sarcomeres are stretched too far, they tear.  Your body treats these tears in the same way that it treats all injuries, by a process called inflammation.  Eight to 24 hours after an intense workout, you suffer swelling, stiffness and pain.

The most beneficial  intense exercise program  is:
* severe enough to cause muscle pain on the next day, and
* usually allows you to recover almost completely within 48 hours.

ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE, RECOVERY:  When athletes feel soreness in their muscles, they rarely take days off.  Neither should you. Keeping sore muscles moving makes them more fibrous and tougher when they heal, so you can withstand greater forces and more intense workouts on your hard days.  Plan to go at low intensity for as many days as it takes for the soreness to go away. Most athletes try to work out just hard enough so that they recover and are ready for their next hard workout in 48 hours.

TIMING MEALS TO RECOVER FASTER:  You do not need to load extra food to recover faster. Taking in too much food fills your muscle cells with fat, and extra fat in cells blocks the cell’s ability to take in and use sugar. Sugar is the main source of energy for your muscles during intense exercise. Using sugar to drive your muscles helps them to move faster and with more strength. Timing of meals is more important than how much food you eat. Eating protein- and carbohydrate-containing foods helps you recover faster, and the best time to start eating is as soon as you finish a hard workout. At rest, muscles are inactive. Almost no sugar enters the resting muscle cell from the bloodstream (J. Clin. Invest. 1971;50: 2715-2725). Almost all cells in your body usually require insulin to drive sugar into their cells. However during exercise your muscles (and your brain) can take sugar into their cells without needing insulin.  Exercising muscles are also incredibly sensitive to insulin and take up sugar into their cells at a rapid rate.  This effect lasts maximally for up to an hour after you finish exercising and disappears almost completely in around 17 hours.  The best time to eat for recovery is when your cells are maximally responsive to insulin, and that is within a short  time after you finish exercising. Not only does insulin drive sugar into muscle cells, it also drives in protein building blocks, called amino acids.  The sugar replaces the fuel for muscle cells. The protein hastens repair of damaged muscle.  Waiting to eat for more than an hour after finishing an intense workout delays recovery.

WHAT TO EAT AFTER YOUR INTENSE WORKOUTS: Fatigue is caused by low levels of sugar, protein, water and salt.  You can replace all of these with ordinary foods and drinks. If you are a vegetarian, you can replace your protein with combinations of grains and beans. You can replace carbohydrates by eating virtually any fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. A recovery meal for a vegetarian could include corn, beans, water, bread, and fruits, nuts and vegetables.  If you prefer animal tissue, you can get your protein from fish, poultry,or meat.   Special sports drinks and sports supplements are made from ordinary foods and therefore offer no advantage whatever over regular foods.

BODY MASSAGE:  Many older studies have shown that massage does not help you recover faster from DOMS. Recently, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario showed that deep massage after an intense workout causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria (Science Translational Medicine, published online Feb, 2012). This is amazing. Enlarging and adding mitochondria can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and even prevent heart attacks and certain cancers.

NSAIDS DELAY DOMS RECOVERY:  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may help relieve pain, but they also can block muscle repair and delay healing.

HOT BATHS:  Most research shows that a hot bath is not much better than doing nothing in helping muscles recover from exercise (European Journal of Applied Physiology, March 2006)

COLD OR ICE BATHS:  A recent review of 17 small trials, involving 366 participants, showed a minor decrease in DOMS with ice water baths.  They found “little quality research” on the subject and “no consistent method of cold water immersion” (Cochrane Library, published online February 15, 2012).  Cold water immersion can reduce swelling associated with injury, but has not been proven to speed the healing of DOMS.

Warm Up More Productive Than Stretching to Avoid Injuries

Warm up More Productive Than Stretching-

I’ve read studies on the topic of stretching for several decades and the consistent evidence is as Dr. Mirkin presents it (below).

Every opportunity I get to work with competitive dogs is an opportunity to reeducate the human clients about sport training and competition. People in the pet competition world often promote ball stretching as an acceptable form of pre-competition warm up or exercise.

Ball stretching before an event is more destructive than helpful. Coming out of a crate and trotting around just a short bit is not enough of a warm up prior to competition. Dogs should do better in events with at least a quarter-mile slow jog warm up and then a few sprints. This would also be beneficial prior to training drills as well. Just the basics…

The article below comes from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine
April 7, 2013

Stretching Before Exercising Provides Only Flexibility

Whenever I see someone stretching before running, cycling, tennis, swimming, or any other sport, I worry that the person doesn’t know much about training.

Exercise First and Then Stretch

Stretching Before Exercise Only Weakens Muscles:

Two recent studies show that stretching before competition and training weakens muscles. Stretching prevents you from lifting your heaviest weights or running your fastest miles. It limits how high you can jump, and how fast you can run (The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. April, 2013; The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, April, 2013).

Stretching weakens muscles by almost 5.5 percent. The longer you hold the stretch, the more strength you lose. Holding a stretch for more than 90 seconds markedly reduces strength in that muscle. Stretching reduces power: how hard you can hit a baseball or tennis ball, how fast you can swim, run or pedal, Stretching also does not prevent next-day muscle soreness, and it does not prevent injuries. On the other hand, warming up helps to prevent injuries and helps you to run faster and lift heavier.

Rudi Stretching Naturally After Exercise
Rudi the Brittany Spaniel in Rehab After Hip Surgery, FHO, Femoral Head Osteotomy. He’s Doing Natural Stretching AFTER exercise, and NOT Doing Forced Range of Motion Work by His Mom Owner

 

How Muscles Move Your Body:

Every muscle in your body is made up of thousands of individual fibers. Each fiber is composed of sarcomeres, repeated similar blocks, lined end-to-end to form the rope-like fibers. Each sarcomere touches the sarcomere next to it at the Z line. Muscles move your body by contracting, a shortening of each muscle fiber. Muscles do not shorten (contract) equally throughout their lengths. Muscles contract only at each of thousands of Z lines. It is the cumulative shortening of thousands of Z lines that shorten fibers to make muscles contract and move your body.

How Stretching Saps Strength:

When you stretch a muscle, you pull on the muscle fibers and stretch apart each fiber at the thousands of Z lines. This damage occurs only at the Z lines throughout the length of the muscle fiber, to weaken the entire muscle.

Prolonged Stretching Limits the Ability of Muscles to Store Energy:

Muscles are like rubber bands. They stretch and contract with each muscle movement. This constant stretching and contracting stores energy. For example, when you run, you land on your foot and the muscle stops contracting suddenly.

The force of your foot striking the ground is stored in your muscles and tendons and this energy is released immediately to drive you forward. Your foot hits the ground with a force equal to three times your body weight when you run at a pace of six minutes per mile. Up to 70 percent of the force of your foot strike is stored in your Achilles and other tendons. This energy is released by your muscles and tendons to drive you forward for your next step.

Stretching decreases the amount of energy you can store in muscles and tendons and therefore weakens you and you have less stored energy to drive you forward, so you have to slow down.

Stretching Saps Speed and Endurance:

Elite college sprinters were timed in 20 meter sprints, with and without prior multiple 30-second stretches of their leg muscles. Both active and passive stretching slowed them down (Journal of Sports Science, May 2005).

Stretching Does Not Prevent Next Day Muscle Soreness:

A review of 12 studies published over the last 25 years shows that stretching does not prevent muscle soreness that occurs 8 to 24 hours after you exercise vigorously (The British Journal of Sports Medicine, December 2011; 45:15 1249-1250). Researchers in Australia reviewed five studies, involving 77 subjects, to show that stretching does not prevent next-day muscle soreness. (British Medical Journal. December 2007; 325:468-70 and 451-2).

Stretching Does Not Prevent Injuries:

A review of the scientific literature shows that there is no good evidence that stretching prevents sports injuries (Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. March 2005). Muscles and tendons tear when the force applied to them is greater than their inherent strength, so anything that makes a muscle stronger helps to prevent injuries. Strengthening muscles helps prevent muscle and tendon tears, but stretching does not make muscles stronger. This review showed that stretching does not prevent shin splints, bone stress fractures, sprains, strains or other arm and leg injuries.

 

Original Post August 3, 2014. Updated February 19, 2018

Range of Motion Drills for Your Pet

When and Why to Perform Range of Motion Drills for Pets

If you are going to do range of motion drills on your pets, you should have an experienced practitioner demonstrate them to you, preferably on your own pet.

Anatolian Shepherd standing with one hind paw turned under, knuckling
Parker was partially paralyzed and once he could walk again, he couldn’t plant his hind paw on his own at first. Parker needed flexion and extension drills for his toes and foot to keep them from locking in place over time.

Passive Range of Motion (PROM) really only needs be performed on animals limbs that the animal is not able to move on their own. PROM is the passive version, and describes range of motion drills when your pet is passive and unable to move their limb.

Range of motion exercises (ROM) are exercises that we may do for others, yet those others are also capable of moving on their own.

ROM drills are often recommended in veterinary medicine. I disagree with doing ROM on the majority of pets, and I do not recommend it for my veterinary rehab patients after hip or knee injury or surgery. 

This recommendation, to do ROM, comes from the “human side”, like a lot of good information for pet recovery does, however pets operate differently with respect to their damaged bodies than humans do. Making blanket recommendations to pet peeps to do ROM is not the best approach.

After Surgery?

BJ cavaletti work in harness with short leash, doing her own range of motion drills after doing the foundation program.

I do not recommend doing ROM if the pet is able to move on their own, even if they are not moving a lot after surgery or injury.  

Some pet caretakers I have counseled have left the vet’s office with surgery discharge instructions that tell them to do massage or ROM exercises. Most of the time the animal caretaker/pet owner does not truly know what this means or how to do it so that the pet is not injured or so that the person is not wasting time.

People are sometimes injured accidentally by their pet if they push ROM drills. Correct range of motion drills that make a difference are likely to cause pain in a pet that has neuromuscular function and feeling. If the limb is not paralyzed, the pet can most likely feel. Sometimes a pet that appears paralyzed is able to feel pain, too. The pet doesn’t understand and they might nip at people when they cause pain with ROM drills.

Comfortable Joints –

If pets are comfortable with joint use after injury or surgery, they will use their joints. As pets recover, their joints will be less swollen and more normal use will increase naturally. This is especially true if the pet is doing a good rehabilitation program.

Rudi the Spaniel using a steep hill incline to stretch naturally after exercise
Rudi the Brittany Spaniel in Rehab After Hip Surgery, FHO, Femoral Head Osteotomy. He’s Doing Natural Stretching at the Right Time, and NOT Being Forced with Range of Motion Work by His Mom Owner. His original surgery was not entirely successful, because too much of the femur head was left during surgery. I did extensive rehab with him to increase muscle mass and avoid a second surgery.

People also usually do not know when to stop pushing a joint and where to start working with ROM drills. This leads to non-compliance on an exercise the clinic recommended, and usually this drill is an unnecessary expense of time if the pet is able to move their limb on their own.

A referral to a strength and conditioning rehab practitioner or a neurological recovery specialist to judge protocol and beneficial movements is a great idea for pet caretakers in these cases.

Joint Stops –

I have consulted on several cases wherein people were really trying and forcing range of motion drills with no improvement in their pet’s natural joint movement. Most of them had been back to the surgeon or regular veterinarian at least once to have the practitioner check the case. In these particular cases I found that there was a “stop” in the joint that should not have been pushed. The people didn’t know that, and in some cases the veterinarian and surgeon did not know, either.

The “stops” I mentioned above are due to different circumstances in different cases. One cat had a pin in her knee that was part of a fracture repair, and the pin was stopping the joint from opening more fully. A surgeon needed to remove the pin. The client had been to the surgeon and to the surgeon’s rehabilitation practitioner. Both of those practitioners kept telling the client to push ROM on the cat. The CCRP rehab person had forced the knee joint during many visits. Of course, it wouldn’t open further, and any perceived gains were likely due to the pin digging into the opposing bone.

The cat was mad and in pain, as you can imagine, and was hiding under the bed when I arrived for my consult. My advice, after finally getting to gently examine the cat, was that the client pursue a second opinion from a different surgeon in a different practice.  It’s probably obvious to you that this cat didn’t need more range of motion exercises; she needed surgical intervention to correct the pin.

Then Why Did my Veterinarian or Surgeon Recommend These Drills?

Most of the time, I believe the veterinarian is trying their best to catch up with some of the rehabilitation protocol promoted at conferences and seminars. Veterinarians and veterinary rehabilitation practitioners are doing what they have been told to do when they recommend ROM. I think they are really trying to do a good job. There is just so much to know that they may not have experienced some of the “bad” situations I mention in this post and therefore they haven’t had opportunity to come up with other solutions to the problems or think differently about the solutions.

ROM, water treadmill and balance board use are some hot topics in rehab practice. As hot as they may be, they are not the best unique approach to home or clinic-based rehabilitation. If they are to be used, they should be used in a planned order along with other work to compliment strength-building and recovery.

Alone, the types of drills I mention above only put a small piece, usually out of place, into the puzzle of recovery. Clumped together, these drills and others like them are often not in an order that compliments the science we know of exercise physiology and recovery.

Also, most of the time, veterinarians, medical doctors, and surgeons do not have extensive experience in functional rehabilitation. That is why there is a need for many types of recovery specialists in human medicine and why rehabilitation is a specialty in veterinary medicine as well. None of us has time to know everything about even our own specialties, much less all other specialties of interest.

I don’t do everything perfectly in my practice. I have, however, had a lot of experience in a broad variety of conditions and situations, and on this website I give to you more ways to think about solving problems.

Back to ROM –

ROM drills are not usually necessary if the pet is moving on their own! Other physical activities will be a better use of rehabilitation activity time than ROM. Other work will do a better job of encouraging overall limb and body use. Start with this foundation if you want to do some work yourself.

My Pet Already Moves Their Leg –

If your dog or cat or other pet is moving and flexing & extending their knee or other joint after surgery, very likely their joints are staying mobile enough for beginning recovery. They are as mobile as they are comfortable with moving.

Often better movement is dependent on better pain control. You may achieve better pain control in the short-term the most effectively with medications prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian. Supplements are usually helpful with long-term pain control. I have taken supplements for over 40 years and using the effective ones in my pet patients for over 25, if you count my own pets as patients! Unfortunately there is not a supplement at the time of this writing that will do the job that focused and thoughtfully applied pharmaceutical medications will do. At this time you cannot overcome big pain with supplements.

My own soulmate pet, RIP Grace Dane, xox. She had two TPLO’s, which I would never do again and did before I developed my rehab practice. Both surgeries were extremely problematic. She ended up with all three ligaments torn in her right knee and two torn in the left. Bone-on-bone in both knees. Her story is long. She received both drugs and supplements most of her life. I drove and pushed for the right drugs for her situation. They helped a lot, in context.

You don’t need to bug (and probably cause pain to) your pet by making them endure “bicycling” of their leg(s).  Other drills and exercises will bring about better recovery and use of the joints. You subsequently have less opportunity to hurt your pet (or you) if you are not trying to forcefully manipulate them. Please start with and complete this foundation if you want to do some work yourself.

Pain? Or “Just” Needs More ROM?

If your pet is able to move on their own yet is choosing to hold a limb in flexion, bent at the joint, and isn’t using the limb much, then the problem is most likely pain. Usually the issue is NOT that the pet needs to be forced to extend/unbend and flex/bend with painful drills we make them do by our own hand. Please see my posts on pain for more info.

Animals do not have the same hesitancy to use their damaged joints in the same way that humans are reluctant to do. This means that if a dog sees a cat it wants to chase, then most of those dogs will chase now and endure the consequences later!

Movement and Reasoning –

In fact, even though I could make an argument for animals demonstrating reasoning ability, I have seen plenty of “act now, consequences later” results! In humans we call this impulsive. Sometimes I also have impulse control issues. You probably do, too. More on that another day.

We humans are usually going to stop moving. We usually think hard about how much pain we think the movement will cause. Our pets seem to do the same thing when they are in pain, but they don’t always restrict themselves.

In those cases humans need excessive coercion, like the ROM machine after knee surgery. Or sometimes we just need the best basic exercise drills for our situation. My dad has shoulders that freeze up due to old injuries. He gets physical therapy once in a while and he can afterward move better. Slowly over time, he forgets to do his exercises. Then his shoulders freeze and are very painful. Then I remind him to start with the simple exercises. The pattern continues today because he forgets. He needs to continue the best drills for his situation. So does your pet, until there is better function.

Conclusion on Forced Range of Motion –

Forced ROM is largely unnecessary for our pets unless the animal has nerve damage and cannot move their limbs; THEN you should do PROM.

The only time it is necessary to use ROM drills is when the pet is unable to move their limbs. Then you must incorporate several sessions of range of motion drills daily. Do this so that the muscles don’t contract and the joints don’t freeze.

Later I might post about proper range of motion for a pet that cannot move its limb. There are already videos galore on the webbage that show a lot about ROM and PROM. I don’t need to duplicate those. Most of the time those vids are encouraging you to do ROM on pets that don’t need it. I’m not necessarily talking about the models for the videos not needing ROM; I can’t comment on all those vids and whether those pets need ROM. I’m talking about necessity of ROM or PROM regarding the content of this post.

Thank you!

Rehabdeb

(Published August 3, 2014. Updated April 6, 2018)

MASSAGE, NUTRITION, NSAIDS, ICE, HEAT, AND MUSCLE RECOVERY

Intense Exercise, Muscle Soreness, Recovery, and Anti-inflammatories

Rehab Deb’s Comments: One of the most important bits of this report is something I’ve been reading in more and more research: nsaids (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) delay or stop the healing process. I have also read several reports regarding the same outcome using ice. Nsaids in animal medicine include Previcox, Peroxicam, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Metacam, etc…and for humans include Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Tylenol, Aspirin, Aleve (sodium naproxen), etc…Does this mean to cut them out altogether? NO…it means think about the application, and possibly combine smaller doses of several pain relievers, depending on the issue, rather than higher and continuous doses of nsaids or only nsaids.

This is only one suggestion.

Ultimately the pain relief drugs for your pet should be discussed with the medical practitioner who prescribed the meds or will be prescribing them in the first place. There are other reasons to minimize nsaids and instead use Tramadol and/or Gabapentin and/or other analgesics to alleviate pain for the short run. The primary reason would be to better encourage building muscle to support damaged joints.

Many practitioners are aware of the benefits of using these other drugs, and while they may not know about this more recent news regarding nsaids delaying healing and muscle growth, it should be easy for anyone to find research papers in addition to those listed on this website.

Article from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health E-Zine
May 6, 2012

HOW TO RECOVER FROM MUSCLE SORENESS CAUSED BY INTENSE EXERCISE:

Muscle soreness should be part of every exercise program.  If you don’t exercise intensely enough on one day to have sore muscles on the next, you will not gain maximum fitness and you are also losing out on many of the health benefits of exercise. The benefits of exercise are much greater with intense exercise than with casual exercising.

You must damage your muscles to make them grow and become stronger.  When muscles heal, they are stronger than they were before you damaged them. All athletes train by “stressing and recovering”. On one day, they take a hard workout in which they feel their muscles burning. Eight to 24 hours after they finish this intense exercise, their muscles start to feel sore. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Then they take easy workouts until the soreness is gone, which means that their muscles have healed.

DOMS is caused by muscle damage:

Muscles are made up of fibers. The fibers are made up of a series of protein blocks called sarcomeres that are lined in a long chain. When you stretch a muscle, you stretch apart the sarcomeres in the chain. When sarcomeres are stretched too far, they tear.  Your body
treats these tears in the same way that it treats all injuries, by a process called inflammation.  Eight to 24 hours after an intense workout, you suffer swelling, stiffness and pain.

The most beneficial  intense exercise program  is:
* severe enough to cause muscle pain on the next day, and
* usually allows you to recover almost completely within 48 hours.

Active, not passive recovery:

When athletes feel soreness in their muscles, they rarely take days off.  Neither should you. Keeping sore muscles moving makes them more fibrous and tougher when they heal, so you can withstand greater forces and more intense workouts on your hard days.  Plan to go at low intensity for as many days as it takes for the soreness to go away. Most athletes try to work out just hard enough so that they recover and are ready for their next hard workout in 48 hours.

Timing meals to recover faster:

You do not need to load extra food to recover faster. Taking in too much food fills your muscle cells with fat, and extra fat in cells blocks the cell’s ability to take in and use sugar. Sugar is the main source of energy for your muscles during intense exercise. Using sugar to drive your muscles helps them to move faster and with more strength. Timing of meals is more important than how much food you eat. Eating protein- and carbohydrate-containing foods helps you recover faster, and the best time to start eating is as soon as you finish a hard workout.

At rest, muscles are inactive. Almost no sugar enters the resting muscle cell from the bloodstream (J. Clin. Invest. 1971;50: 2715-2725). Almost all cells in your body usually require insulin to drive sugar into their cells. However during exercise your muscles (and your brain) can take sugar into their cells without needing insulin.  Exercising muscles are also incredibly sensitive to insulin and take up sugar into their cells at a rapid rate.  This effect lasts maximally for up to an hour after you finish exercising and disappears almost completely in around 17 hours.

The best time to eat for recovery is when your cells are maximally responsive to insulin, and that is within a short  time after you finish exercising. Not only does insulin drive sugar into muscle cells, it also drives in protein building blocks, called amino acids.  The sugar replaces the fuel for muscle cells. The protein hastens repair of damaged muscle.  Waiting to eat for more than an hour after finishing an intense workout delays recovery.

What to eat after your intense workouts:

Fatigue is caused by low levels of sugar, protein, water and salt.  You can replace all of these with ordinary foods and drinks. If you are a vegetarian, you can replace your protein with combinations of grains and beans. You can replace carbohydrates by eating
virtually any fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. A recovery meal for a vegetarian could include corn, beans, water, bread, and fruits, nuts and vegetables.  If you prefer animal tissue, you can get your protein from fish, poultry,or meat. Special sports drinks and sports supplements offer no advantage whatever over regular foods.

Body Massage:

Many older studies have shown that massage does not help you recover faster from DOMS. Recently, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario showed that deep massage after an intense workout causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria (Science Translational Medicine, published online Feb, 2012). This is amazing. Enlarging and adding mitochondria can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and even prevent heart attacks and certain cancers.

NSAIDS delay DOMS recovery:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may help relieve pain, but they also can block muscle repair and delay healing.

Hot Baths:

Most research shows that a hot bath is not much better than doing nothing in helping muscles recover from exercise (European Journal of Applied Physiology, March 2006)

(RehabDeb’s comment: On the other hand, Epsom Salts Soak/Bath works well for humans and the dogs and cats I’ve encouraged toward that therapy. Of course, this is more than “just” a hot bath…)

Cold or ice baths:

A recent review of 17 small trials, involving 366 participants, showed a minor decrease in DOMS with ice water baths.  They found “little quality research” on the subject and “no consistent method of cold water immersion” (Cochrane Library, published online February 15, 2012). Cold water immersion can reduce swelling associated with injury, but has not been proven to speed the healing of DOMS.

(RehabDeb’s comment: ice baths are proved to be beneficial and instrumental in reversing back spasms!)

Revised 8-1-14

Very Productive Pet Massage That’s Easy to Do Correctly and Helps Recovery

Simple Vibration-Based Pet Massage Video for Rehabilitation

Simply Put –

This technique uses one particular type of inexpensive, hand-held massage unit technically sold for people but great for use in pet massage. This unit produces a low-to-moderate level of vibration and is usually pretty quiet.

The technique very practically covers main areas for relaxation, improving circulation, and encouraging healing. This massage technique conquers many areas in the amount of time required for benefit and therefore is a lot of benefit for time expense.

I have developed my methods over the years to try to give the best bang for the buck, time-wise. It’s disappointing to me finding out people have wasted resources doing sub-standard work. I know it’s frustrating for them and for the pet, plus the pet usually is not recovering well in those situations. Plus, money swirling down the drain on occasion…

My methods aren’t perfect, but I am a hard-wired problem-solver, and I have the knowledge and experience to support that. I am confident that this method will be a great use of your time and money and that your pet will benefit.

This is the only rehabilitation some of my clients are able to do themselves on their pets. That is usually the case when the client is not very mobile and cannot do walks or drills I prescribe. I have been surprised at the great positive feedback I have received in those situations; most often they find their pet is getting up and moving more after several sessions of this massage.

Instructions –

Please watch and listen to the massage video to see how to use this massager unit AND so you will hopefully have success introducing the massager. This video is not going to win awards, but the instruction is solid, and you will have the info you need if you do what it says.

Most people tell me they notice immediate benefits. Please do this massage daily for the first month after injury or surgery, using the full technique during that time.

Since it vibrates, you definitely don’t want to scare your pet before you get to show them how wonderful this massage is. Watch the video and listen to my words so that you introduce it without drama. Please don’t start by turning on the massager and shaking it at your pet. I have seen funny people do this. Not always funny to the pet, and you also might lose a useful tool!

In my experience, less than 1% of pets will act like they are not into the massager; the remaining pets either love it immediately or grow to appreciate it if you follow the plan. When they feel the benefits, lots of pets get used to the massage time and come “ask” for it. My Grace Dane used to love her massage, and when I turned on the massager, her cat, Calvin, would come running to get his, too! Yes, that’s them in my banner pic.

Please do not let your pet just get up and walk away during the massage –

Sometimes your pet may seem to get bored or, if it’s a dog, they may test the Alpha status by getting up and wandering off. This does not mean they do not like the massage.

When I am in-person to show the massage method to people, I have 100% success, but I’m also not the “pet parent”, and I’m not worried about whether I’m doing it right or if the pet likes it.

Keep the faith and use the technique ideas I give to you in the vid. Start with the massager turned off. Even if that is the only way you can ever use it, your pet will gain benefits. This unit with four feet on it keeps the body contact more even and balanced. If you use the system I recommend, massaging body parts in a certain order and for a certain time, you don’t have to worry about whether you are “doing enough” of the right thing.

Benefits –

We all (probably) know that we need touch and that touch is healing. Touch releases endorphins. Oxytocin is a good thing. Touching a little or a lot with emphasis will encourage circulation.

You want to relax your pet, reverse muscle tension, and increase circulation to the injured area. You don’t want to bruise your pet, injure a healing area, or waste time. When you use your hands, you will not gain the depth of circulation improvement that the consistent, low-level vibration gains.

The benefits far outweigh any other type of massage you could do, in my experience. That is because with this low-to-moderate level of vibration, using the tool I recommend and not a dozen others on the market, you will loosen up tight tissue and easily encourage circulation in a non-aggressive way. That is also because most people are not trained in massage and/or do not have hundreds of cases-worth of experience with a variety of injuries.

Using the unit with four feet on it keeps the contact more even and balanced. If you use the system I recommend, massaging body parts in a certain order and for a certain time, you don’t have to worry about whether you are “doing enough” of the right thing.

This massage method is a very beneficial help to encourage circulation, relaxation, nerve conduction, cell stimulation, and other healing, so be encouraged to carry out the work. They usually learn to relax and enjoy the massage time, especially if you do it as I have outlined. Most will like it immediately.

Oh, I’ve Been Doing My Own Massage –

That’s a good idea and very thoughtful on your part! Chances are that you don’t have any particular training in massage or pet massage, and you might be confused about techniques. There are a lot of videos online about doing pet massage. Many of those videos are not coming from people with decades of experience resolving extensive injuries.

Many of the online videos describe good stuff to do, though, and you probably found out you can even get a certificate in pet massage therapy. Maybe you should, if you are interested and have aptitude. For now, for healing after surgery and injury, please do the method I describe for the first month, at least.

Your pet has likely been enjoying your touch, unless you have provoked painful areas. Our own human LMT might do that to us, press the pain, but don’t do that to your pet. Don’t force range of motion, either. If you use this vibration technique, you will merge many aspects of healing. You will be “doing it correctly” and not have to worry about causing further damage or wasting time.

But I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist –

I have a lot of clients who are licensed massage therapists. Yay! And after I discuss it with them, they always understand the benefits to this vibration level and technique if they have been trained in advance massage techniques.  If you are licensed, you have beneficial knowledge to apply to your home rehabilitation program.

You will also understand that while your human clients will (maybe) give verbal feedback to you about your massage technique and what they think they need or want, your pet doesn’t speak in the same verbal language. Your pet will give signs to you, too, but you might not read them correctly.

I do not recommend that LMTs use the more aggressive massage units they would use for humans on a cat or dog or other smaller pet. I had one of these, but I finally broke it recently. It’s a big black thing with heavy-duty handles and lots of rpms. You know. It might have a second use as a jackhammer.

I honor your training and ask that you alternate the technique I recommend with your own technique every other day. I have received very positive feedback from LMTs over the 10+ years that I have seen clients through this massage technique.

Pretty Sure I Know What My Pet Likes –

We don’t usually know our pets extremely well in injury status. We project our distressed emotions on our pets, who, in turn, mirror them and wonder what they can do to help us, because we are so distraught. Our being distraught is normal, and their response as companion animals is normal, mirroring our distress and trying to help.

Not knowing how to read your pet’s cues is common, even among veterinarians, and even though we all usually tend to think we “know” our pets. We do to some extent. But when our pets injure themselves, we also tend to get very emotionally involved and upset.

I have had to work with my intuitive and empathic skills along with “book” knowledge to weed through the nuances of animal reaction over the years to gain more advances in rehabilitation. This is a deeper topic for a different post, but it comes up a lot in my first appointments with people, so, just a few thoughts here. I recommend you overcome your mixed emotions, follow the above massage video, and be confident that you are providing a new level of help for your pet!

Lie Down? Sit? Stand?

Yes, they may either lie down or sit or stand…but those that stand usually end up relaxing into lying down! If they are lying on one side, do the beginning session, move to the limbs (only doing it the way I describe), and then get them to turn over. I explain this in the video (I think).

Where Do I Get This Massager –

Here is what the massager looks like, along with a link to buy it on Amazon if you choose:

group of small, four-footed Homedics massage units

Otherwise, I have used this method for pet massage since I first found the massage units in 2008 in a Target store in Austin, TX, USA. I saw the unit, had an epiphany, and started formulating the method based on knowledge and my own extensive experience. You may usually find the unit near the pharmacy department, sold for humans. It’s not in the pet department. I don’t think Target has carried the unit for many years. It used to light up, have 3 AAA batteries, and cost $4.99.

Most commonly I find the massagers in a CVS store locally. They seem to average $7.99, no longer light up, and take two AAA batteries. I recommend you change the batteries about every five hours of massage. Do that so the massage vibration remains closer to peak for this machine.

People have told me they have found the units in Walgreens, Fry’s, Wal-Mart, and Sears. Most stores call it a seasonal item, and they offer the units at Winter holiday time.  One of the main reasons I decided to provide links to products I recommend was to show this massage unit.

Some units rattle, so check for that. The rattle won’t matter if your pet is mostly deaf.

Blessings-

Deborah

(First Published Around 2011, Updated February 26, 2018)