Often McTimoney practitioners are called to relieve an animal’s discomfort after they have suffered an acute trauma or injury such as a slip, trip or a fall, an accident or collision. In other more chronic cases issues including saddle fit, conformation, weight, rider imbalance or teeth related problems can be contributory factors.
The McTimoney technique aligns and re-balances the animal’s musculoskeletal system using spinal adjustments to treat misaligned joints throughout the body particularly focusing on the neck, back and pelvis. The approach is a holistic, safe and gentle manual therapy in which practitioners use their hands to evaluate and treat imbalances and abnormalities in skeletal function. The approach has many benefits including:
Used in combination with sports massage to relieve residual muscular tension and spasms, this is a highly effective approach to treating physical and performance related issues and restoring and maintaining health, movement and soundness.
The McTimoney Technique explained
The equine skeleton consists of approximately 205 bones. The area where two or more bones meet is a joint and is stabilised by a complex network of muscles, tendons and ligaments and allows movement. The spine is made up of a number of bones called vertebrae which house and protect the spinal cord. A misalignment (also described as a subluxation) describes a bone/vertebrae that has become fixed within its normal range of motion but is out of line with its adjacent bones and therefore there is reduced flexibility and movement at this joint. If the misalignment persists, the associated muscle is likely to go into spasm, keeping the vertebrae in this position and causing stiffness, muscle tension, discomfort; in turn this can affect performance and even behaviour.
Horses and dogs will alter their posture, weight distribution and gait in order to compensate for the misalignments to avoid further pain and discomfort in that area of the body. These
alterations in biomechanics put further stress on other parts of the body which can lead to
secondary problems or injuries. McTimoney can also be beneficial for animals suffering with long term physical conditions by restoring alignment and reducing stress on problematic areas.
The spinal cord relays messages from the brain to the peripheral nerves which exit the spine through spaces between the vertebrae. These nerves send messages to and from the skin, organs and muscles. In the case of a misaligned joint, reduced mobility between two vertebrae can affect these nerves, leading to an interrupted flow of information. The nervous system controls the functioning of the whole body; therefore it is vital that this information is not restricted or impaired in any way.
McTimoney Manipulation can be used as a gentle, safe and effective treatment which uses speed and precision rather than force to overcome the strength of the muscles and ligaments holding the vertebrae in misalignment and restore correct positioning. A kinetic transfer of energy is put into the joint as a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. These quick and light adjustments are carried out using the hands on to a specific part of the bone, restoring correct/aligned positioning without forcing or stressing the joint. The adjustment sends a vibration through the bone which relaxes the associated tense muscles which are restricting the range of motion at that joint. Adjustments are made to the neck and back vertebrae, pelvis and feet to re-establish correct alignment of the bone, release muscle spasm, restore normal joint range of motion, improve nerve function and to reduce pain through stimulating a natural healing response within the body.
The technique was developed by
John McTimoney, initially for the treatment of humans but has been adapted and used on animals since the 1950s to help horses, dogs, cats and farm animals. The MSc in Animal Manipulation offered by the
McTimoney College in Oxford is the only university validated course of its kind in Europe and it is essential that practitioners are fully trained and qualified in physical therapy techniques before
providing such a treatment. I
work closely with vets and other professionals in the area such as farriers, saddle fitters and
dentists and am undertaking referral work for equine practices. Please note the treatment of animals is currently regulated under the Veterinary Act and therefore it is a legal requirement that veterinary permission must be obtained prior to a McTimoney Manipulation and Sports Massage. This can usually be obtained over the phone; most vets are aware of the benefits of complementary therapy and will readily provide permission providing the treatment is to be carried out by a suitably qualified professional.
I am also a member of the McTimoney Animal Association (MAA) which is responsible for setting and maintaining professional standards within the industry. The McTimoney Animal Association is listed by BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association) as a recognised musculoskeletal allied professional group. More information can be found using the following link:
Equine Physical Therapist
MSc (Animal Manipulation)
BSc (Biological Sciences)
Pg Dip (ESM)