Why Spinal Alignment
Have you ever played the game where you use special blocks to make a pathway for a marble? The smoother and less resistant pathways always wins. Unfortunately sometimes when you have the marble rolling perfectly the dog comes by and knocks the track ever so slightly. Now when you roll the marble it keeps getting stuck and the pathway down is not so smooth. Let’s say the blocks are your spinal bones and the marble is a message from your brain.
Let’s say the message is ‘Get your left hind foot out of the hole in the ground before the rest of your 1200 lbs moves forward without it!’
Which marble pathway would you choose? The interrupted or the aligned?
If that isn’t inspiring enough for you, imagine the injury does occur – once again you want fast transmission of THIS message to the brain so it can send down the clotting factors and proteins needed for healing as quickly as possible.
Spinal Alignment is about optimization, it’s about being your best.
The term Chiropractic is commonly associated with the practice of specific, controlled, high velocity, low force, thrusts which in this manner re align the bones of the spinal column. What is less well known is that there is an entire world of spinal manipulative techniques that do not involve this particular form of adjustment.
Dr. Heart realized shortly after graduating from chiropractic school that many of the animals were adverse to these types of manual therapies. They did not understand the process and were defensive as well as painful. For this reason, in addition to certification in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy ( Animal Chiropractic), Dr Heart has taken advanced animal classes in Cranial Sacral Therapy , Applied Kinestheology, Osteopathy and Postural Rehabilitation.
With a goal of effectively treating ALL animals Dr. Heart continues to pursue her education in the different realms of chiropractic care. At Heart Equine the techniques used are adapted to the emotional and physical needs of the animal being cared for.
Who Needs Their Spine Aligned?
Everybody, everything. If you are breathing you will benefit from having an aligned spine and an optimal functioning nervous system. The problems created by having issues with the spinal column and a sub optimal nervous system are an absolute cascade in the riding horse industry. In this case the FINAL result are those behaviors most commonly referred in to the animal chiropractor: kicking out, rearing , jumping issues and other resistant behaviors. Spinal Alignment is not all about your Chiropractor either – there are training regimes , exercises for horses and riders and stretching that can play a huge role in helping your horse function at its best.
Subluxations, Fixations, Rotation, Compression, Mobilization and Range of Motion
The manual palpation of the horse’s spinal cord including the poll, neck, back and tail as well as the four limbs and head and jaw are the cornerstone of the exam for manual therapy. In this exam it is possible to identify the different pathological changes that have occurred between the moveable segments in the bones of the spinal cord and bones of the limbs. The changes in soft tissues surrounding the bones provide volumes of evidence regarding the current state of a horses musculoskeletal system.
Subluxations occur when two vertebral segments are misaligned and create abnormal joint motion as diagnosed by palpation. These segments no longer demonstrate their normal range of motion (ROM) indicating a problem with their alignment. When these segments stop moving entirely they become fixated.
Fixations in vertebral segments and joints leads to a number of problems. The lack of any motion creates a lack of input from the receptors from that vertebral segment or joint. With this lack of input you then lose the primary control from the brain. That part of the back or joint becomes ‘silent’ it is not painful but the body also lacks control and we are back to the LH getting left in the hole. The other problem is that the areas adjacent to the fixated ones will compensate with hyper mobility and pain. This is why the painful area is often not the primary area.
Rotation of the bones associated with the spinal column often occurs and may be a reason why an adjustment does not hold. The spinal cord will twist to try and shorten and strengthen it’s weak areas. Both the Pelvis and the Atlas have the ability to rotate around the spinal cord.
Compression of the bones will occur in response to rotation and can also be associated with training. Seen commonly in the poll where a horse is unable to extend the poll on one side and the lumbar area where the lack of lateral stabilization makes it easy to compress and change the alignment of these bones. This is a soft tissue issue primarily and must be addressed with techniques that release the fascia and muscles in the area. Often a steep pelvic angle and ‘hunters bump’ is a compensation to this compression.
Mobilization and Range of Motion this is the goal of treatment – to get the bones of the vertebral column and joints of the distal limbs moving. The techniques of mobilization vary with the problem. Many parts of the body are fixated and compressed and need extensive soft tissue work and relaxation on the part of the horse before the alignment of the bones can be addressed. More often the bones put themselves back once the soft tissue relaxes. Realizing and restoring normal range of motion is very important. Expect more when it come to range of motion.
Spinal Alignment and Injury
Why do injuries occur repeatedly for some horses? What about those horses that ‘the Vet said’ would never come back and they do so with a vengence. Do you sometimes feel as if you don’t have a lot of control over your horse’s soundness? At Heart Equine we do believe that most injuries and poor performance start in the horses back and spinal column.
Furthermore we believe that your horses current soundness and likely hood of staying sound will be mirrored by the condition of the muscle and ligaments associated with the spinal column. The foundation of our rehabilitation program for an injury lies in care of the spinal column. Many of our injured horse’s have alignment problems that create poor balance and coordination. These problems must be addressed for the horse is to manage his body without re-injury.
Secondary to this is an exercise program which reinforces the changes made to alignment of the joints. The strength and stability of a limb is often compromised with injury and these must be restored for long term soundness to be achieved. While the rest of the horse is being aligned the treatment of the injury itself completes the process of restorative healing.