Monday, 9 March 2015

Cani Sports Sussex and Canine Massage Therapy

Cani Sports includes running, racing and biking with a dog, done in a controlled way. It includes CaniCross running (typically done cross country) and Bike-Jor. 

Cani Sports Sussex, run by Gary Moxon, is based at Paws, Play & Stay Dog Hotel & Day Centre, Rustington and is involved with Sportswear, Sports instruction and Personal training. Gary manages the fitness and working dog side of Paws, Play & Stay the business, is experienced in handling and working sled dogs in harness, and teaching one to one or group running sessions for you and your canine friend. With a competitive nature he was always seeking to enjoy his time running with dogs so it became a natural progression to run with his first Siberian Husky, Tex. After a lot of research and self-taught training they competed at their first Cani Cross race in 2010. Since those early days the Moxon pack has grown and so has the family participation in Cani Sports including scooting and bikejoring. Gary competed for team GB in the 2012 CaniX European Championships placing 12th in Europe. He believes the physiological well-being of working dogs is also paramount.

In Cani Sports, the dog wears a running harness while their human runner/biker wears a belt designed for the purpose. Cani Sports Sussex recommends and supplies Non-Stop Dog Wear. It is important that the harness fits the dog in the right places as badly fitted harnesses can cause poor mobility, the dog should not be restricted in the shoulder area, neck and rib cage so that they have freedom of movement and can breathe easily and fully while running with you. An ill-fitting harness can cause injury and discomfort for your dog and can hinder their mobility. Paws Play & Stay offer a complimentary fitting to ensure the correct sizes and fitting for each individual dog. 

Just like their owners, dogs suffer from muscle pains, aches and strains but they can't easily tell us that they have a sore shoulder or that their knee is stiff. They usually don't complain and tend to adapt to move around the problem carrying on with the most important job of being your best friend and fellow athlete. It is easy to spot if your dog is lame or limping, but there are more subtle indicators of injury such as reluctance to participate in the sport/activity (but again, your best friend athlete may well run through the pain to please you), stiffness when they get up after lying down, twitching or quivering down the back when you touch or stroke them (not always in the place where you are touching). In the worst case they could appear sad or depressed. 

Additionally dogs tend to have two speeds, zero and 100. They don’t stretch before an activity or run, they don’t warm up. This means it is easy for them to pick up an injury. This is where you can help. If you do notice a change in their behaviour or the way they walk, professional canine remedial massage and myotherapy can help to ease any problems to bring noticeable and positive changes in your dog. But most important of all, is learning how to give your dog a warm-up and cool-down massage routine before and after the sport. It should only take 5 to 10 minutes to do this, but can add years on to the athletic life of your dog. 

Warming your dog up beforehand can help to warm muscles and reduce the risk of injury. If you imagine a muscle is like an elastic band, when it is cold it can easily overstretch and tear or even break. (Try putting an elastic band in the fridge for an hour and see the difference between that and a warm one!). You certainly don’t that to happen to your dog. 

Other benefits of warming-up your dog before sports include:
  • Loosens joints
  • Prepares muscle fibres
  • Allows increased stretch
  • Allows greater contraction
  • Encourages elasticity and contractibility
  • Increases circulation so increases oxygenation which means the muscles can work for longer without going into anaerobic conditions with toxic build-up 

When a human runner, whether sprinter or marathon runner, has finished their race, they rarely just stop and get into the back of a taxi (in your case – your car!). They tend to include stretching and cool down routines. In a dog, this is similar but slower than a warm-up routine. 

Benefits of a cool-down routine include : 
  • Relaxing & soothing
  • Keeps the blood circulation flowing to nourish the muscles and tissues
  • Gets rid of waste products
  • Speeds up the body’s natural healing process

Preventing any injury in the first place is clearly far better than treating afterwards. Canine massage therapy, warm-up and cool-down routines could not only help to prevent injury by finding a problem before it becomes a problem but can also enhance and extend performance.  

Contact me via the achypaw.com website if you are interested in learning how to perform a warm-up / cool-down massage routine or if you have any questions about the mobility of your dog.  To learn more about Cani Sports, contact Gary via the Paws, Play & Stay reception. 

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