I have been writing articles about the benefits of Galen Myotherapy for many years but I am not sure if I have ever explained how it is ‘believed’ to work and why we get such incredibly positive responses.
Manual therapy, massage, Myotherapy, or however it is defined, looks to create a positive environment within the body. To understand how it works, the body must be broken down into single cell units.
Within the body, we have our divided ‘systems’: circulatory, respiratory, neural, urinary, digestive, skeletal, muscular, lymphatic (immune), endocrine (hormonal), reproductive and integumentary (skin) and all have to work together to create balance and therefore good function within our body’s. Imagine if our circulatory system was not working efficiently, we would feel and be ill and our body out of balance. Blood delivers oxygen, nutrition, hormones (including the hormones that we need to maintain life) to our entire body. Likewise, neurologically; most things in our body are governed by a neurological response, so if this system was compromised we would struggle to function. Each of the systems could be looked at in isolation but also, more importantly the interrelationship they have on and with each other; every bodily system requires the other systems to work efficiently for the whole body to function.
The body, as everyone knows, is unbelievably complex and it requires balance to function effectively. Each cell must receive nutrients and oxygen to survive and flourish, likewise it requires the waste products of both to be removed. In incredibly simplistic terms, each cell replicates what we do on a global scale, we eat, we breathe, we excrete! Our bodies also need to be able to respond to our environment too, keeping us warm, or cooling us off. Maintaining our internal metabolic and hormonal balances along with cleaning our bodies and protecting them from invading bacteria and virus. All our systems working together to maintain homeostasis (the body’s stable equilibrium between all the systems).
Each time we lay our hands on our dog, it has a physiological or biological effect. The skin is an amazing receptor, so it will pick up on your hands temperature and pressure and feedback to the dog. What we do with Myotherapy is a targeted more accentuated version of this, so we are initially working over and then through the skin to the tissues below, facilitating cellular change by the use of stretching, lifting, frictional and distractive techniques. These techniques will aid the re-organising of cells that have become less active.
Unfortunately, the muscular system appears to be the ‘poor relation’ as far as acknowledging its importance for total health. Muscles hold the skeleton together and therefore provide a structure for movement but they do so much more than that. They also support the peripheral vessels and pathways or other systems, so if the muscles are directly damaged or overworked due to adaptive change or injury, the peripheral delivery of these of systems (circulatory/hormonal, lymphatic, neural) can be compromised.
From a global physical perspective, if the muscles are damaged from, again, injury (old and new), compensatory or adaptive changes, overloading or overworking, then movement is compromised and systems are not able to function adequately. The most obvious one is the digestive system. If the dog is feeling pain, they will not be able to excrete easily, therefore the whole process of removal of digestive waste will not be efficient and removing waste from our body is essential for good health. So often, dogs with movement and excretion issues also have anal gland problems and so the issues can continue.
The most basic of techniques, such as one called Effleurage, a stroking techniques, can illicit amazing changes, if applied correctly. It will work from two perspectives, physical and reflexive. Physically, it is a gentle but highly effective stretching method, that will help the re-organisation of the muscle fibres and therefore all that is supported within them, such as peripheral nerves. It will also assist the return flow of lymphatic vessels and the veins; this is critical for aiding removal of toxin and waste. It will also work reflexively, which is more psychologically, relaxing and easing tension from the contact, warmth and general ‘feel good factor’ created from a hormonal response.
This is just a brief overview of how just one technique can help to elicit change in the body that will enable it to regain balance or a degree of improved balance. When it is viewed from a whole body, integrated body system perspective, I believe it can be viewed as a powerful tool to enhance health by allowing the body to function better.
Likewise, if the global view was considered when assessing our dogs, it makes it easier to understand how some behavioural changes that be effected by these body systems not running at full capacity. one I have already mentioned, was a dog not being able to excrete easily because of the pain holding their body in the shape required to evacuate.
The other could be the licking or chewing of feet, or indeed the chasing of the tail. These behaviours can be a direct cause of muscles being compromised. This has become so endemic that at Galen we have launched out ‘distant support programme’. This has been set up so that individuals can be given individual support and instruction on how they can treat their own dogs by giving them instruction on how and where to treat their dogs by using Effleurage and another unbelievably effective technique. Currently this is proving popular all over the world, so we can help dogs that we cannot directly reach! If you are interested in this go to our website and go to ‘treatments’ then scroll down to ‘distant support programme’.
Thank you to everyone who came up and said ‘hello’ at Crufts.