Physiological Effects of Stretching
Regular passive and active stretching improves flexibility and range of motion. C. Sue Furman, Ph.D., Holistic Touch Therapy,
- Relaxes muscles
- Increases flexibility
- Improves muscle tone
- Increases elasticity of muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Enhances circulation
- Reduces risk of injury during exercise
PASSIVE RANGE OF MOTION
Passive Range of Motion (PROM) gently moves a joint or joints through flexion and extension (bending and extending). It increases the movement possible in a joint or limb by carefully, and gently stretching the muscles and tendons. Over time a stiff or injured joint will gain a greater Range of Motion. The goal is to maintain or gain as full a range of motion as possible. When working on a particular joint, isolate the motion of the joint from the surrounding joints as much as possible. Pay close attention to support the joint as you move thru its range. NEVER stress the joint! Don’t squeeze or grip hard on your dog’s legs. use your palm and the web space between your thumb and index finger, not your fingertips or thumb when holding and moving the leg.
Don’t be over-anxious to see immediate progress. You want to make sure not to cause any pain. However, it is important that you do not cause pain. Pain can cause your pet to resist the exercises and cause swelling. An ice or cool pack afterward applied for a few moments if tenderness or swelling is evident can be a soothing finish.
Passive Range of Motion is so easy you can add it to your snuggle time with your furry friend. All you need is a time when you both are relaxed and quiet. By taking a few minutes to add these passive stretches 2-3 times a day, you can maintain/restore range of motion in your dog’s joints and reduce pain. PROM is critical to optimal healing, and building muscle mass following surgery or an injury. Gently moving and manipulating joints helps nourish the cartilage, maintain function. and is critical to the optimal healing of any injury.ain function.
Benefits of Passive Range of Motion
PROM is critical to optimal healing, and building muscle mass following surgery or an injury. Gently moving and manipulating joints helps nourish the cartilage, maintain function. and is critical to the optimal healing of any injury. Passive Range of Motion is so easy you can add it to your snuggle time with your furry friend. All you need is a time when you both are relaxed and quiet. By taking a few minutes to add these passive stretches 2-3 times a day, you can maintain/restore range of motion in your dog’s joints and reduce pain.
Performing Passive Range of Motion
Hand position is critical when performing passive stretches/range of motion. Always use smooth continuous actions to move the leg through the full range of motion. Let your dog tell you what the range is for each joint. Always STOP when they offer resistance!! Hold the stretch briefly the first time. The more you work with your dog and learn the range for each joint, your goal will be to hold it between 8-10 seconds. After holding gently, return to the starting/neutral position. If your dog is recovering from an injury, surgery, or chronic joint problems, you will need to modify the duration of the stretch.
Kneel on the ventral (tummy) side of your dog. Place the hand nearest the dog’s head under his wrist to cradle and support their leg. just Gently hold the leg keeping it parallel to the floor/ground. Place the other hand just above and behind the elbow. The hand supporting the wrist ONLY supports. It does not push or pull on the leg. The hand above the elbow does the work. First, push gently but firmly on the upper arm moving toward your dog’s head, hold for a few seconds, and return to the starting position. Slide your hands along the leg to reverse their positions, and repeat the movement toward the tail.
Performing PROM on your dog’s rear legs is similar to what you just accomplished with their front legs. Position one hand on the upper leg above the knee with the other hand supporting the lower leg. Gently push from the backside of the thigh to extend the leg forward toward their head. Hold briefly the first time, extending the length of the hold as you and your dog progress. Return the leg to the starting position. Slide each hand along the leg to switch positions. Gently move the thigh toward the tail, holding as appropriate.
Stretching relieves tension and little muscle kinks. It is also a great way to limber up and warm up muscles before exercising. Active stretches are simple, fun, and offer more bonding time between you and your furry companion. All you need is your dog and a few yummy, healthy treats. Your job is to stand there and guide the stretch and hand over the treat. Your dog will do all the work.
Lateral stretching stretches the neck, shoulder, and trunk muscles. To do the lateral stretch you must stabilize your fur friend. Smaller dogs can be placed standing between your legs. For medium to large companions, you will stand beside them with your leg against their hip. With your tasty morsel in hand, bring your hand in front of your dog. Once you have their attention, their nose will follow your hand toward their hindquarters. Use your hand or leg to anchor your dog so they don’t turn in a tail-chasing circle. Following the treat toward their tail, your dog is stretching their neck, shoulder, rib cage, and trunk muscles. The first few times you perform this stretch, hold it for five seconds. As you and your dog progress with this activity, your goal is to stretch the time to 10-15 seconds. Repeat the stretch at least three times and then move to the other side.
Nose to Toes Stretches
Armed with yet another healthy treat, entice your dog to accomplish this stretch by holding the treat near the ground between and behind his front feet. Standing beside your dog, reach down with the treat and encourage them to reach their nose between their paws to get their reward. Have them work a bit to get the treat from your hand to encourage holding the stretch. Work up to holding the stretch for 10-15 seconds. This stretch works the muscles of the top side of the neck and spine.
Look Up Stretches
Lookup is a great stretch for the often-neglected front side of the neck and chest. You can do this stretch either sitting or standing. Stand in front of your dog. Use a treat to tempt them to look up as you hold it over their head. Encourage them to look up, holding for 10-15 seconds. You may find that your dog will hold the stretch longer when done in the sitting position
Measuring Mobility in Senior Dogs
If a joint is determined to be tight—a goniometer is used to measure the available range of motion. The goniometer takes measurements in exact degrees of a dog’s range of motion. Your dog’s measurements are then compared to the normal value. When you know your dog’s current range of motion compared to normal values, you have a starting point and a goal. The goal is to help you keep your dog’s joints as close to the normal range of motion values as possible for optimal function. For senior dogs, passive range of motion exercises offers the purest, most complete method of keeping joints in top shape.
Lossing Mobility as Your Dog Ages
Have you noticed telltale signs of loss of mobility and range of motion in your senior dog? As your dog ages, joints tend to lose their natural mobility, and the available range of motion lessens. Normal aging coupled with a variety of health conditions causes senior dogs to become stiff and lose their previously enjoyed range of motion.
Every joint in your senior dog’s body exists for the sole purpose of movement. Each joint has an available range of motion. When your dog’s joints are operating within a normal range of motion, your dog functions at their best. Movement becomes even more vital. As your dog enters their senior years, they depend on you to help them maintain their mobility. Good news: You can easily help your senior dog have greater mobility and a better quality of life right n the comfort of your home. Dr. Susan E Davis All Hands on Pet!
Putting it All Together
The fact that you love your furry companion to the moon and back is a given. Adding passive and active stretches to your routine gives you an opportunity to love your pet while providing fantastic health benefits that don’t cost a cent (except for the amazingly awesome healthy treats) you use with your active stretches. An added benefit to this awesome form of bonding is you get to help your dog maintain or restore their range of motion, increase their muscle mass, increase their overall wellbeing, and more. Click on the link If you missed the recent article on Massage Therapy For Your Dog and want to read more.
I hope you are able to take away at least a couple of techniques from this article. More than that I hope it raises questions for you to raise regarding your own favorite four-legged person. Please comment and share below. My goal with this series of articles is to give your dog the best quality of life ever.
If you have subjects serious or fun that you would Like Lady Norma, NY Vinny, or me to research and do an article or series of articles please let us know. I love writing and those who know me, know my dogs are my heart. So if you have an interest and need someone to check it out, we would love the opportunity.