The entire family needs bodywork, don't you think? This includes horses, dogs and cats for a lot of families. People are recognizing that what is good for them is good for their favorite animals.
Acupressure for animals has actually been around for 1000s of years. In ancient Chinese communities the health of their livestock was as important to survival as their own health. There have been a number of meridian and acupressure point charts that still exist from hundreds of years ago (pre-dating human charts) and references in texts referring to animals, so we know that it was common practice to offer their animals' acupressure or acupuncture.
Acupressure, like acupuncture, is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy and techniques. The only difference is that in acupuncture very fine needles are used to stimulate the acupoints. While in acupressure we use our hands and fingers to stimulate the acupoints and help move Chi, life-promoting energy, along the energy pathways called "meridians."
According to Chinese Medicine, when the vital substances such as Chi and Blood are flowing harmoniously and nourishing the internal organs and the tissues of the entire body, then there is a healthy balance and illness will not occur. When there is a disruption in the flow of the body's vital substances, the body is compromised and pathogens can enter the body, which can lead to disease.
This is as true for animals as it is for humans. 1000s of year of observation and recent scientific studies have proven that acupressure can:
- Build the immune system
- Strengthen muscles, tendons, joints, and bones
- Balance energy to optimize the body's natural ability to heal
- Release natural cortisone to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Release endorphins necessary to increase energy or relieve pain
- Enhance mental clarity and calm required for focus in training and performance
- Resolve injuries more readily by increasing the blood supply and removing toxins.
Animals in our society can enjoy the same benefits of acupressure as their human's. Dog- athletes that compete in sports like agility and coursing are just as prone to damaging muscles and sustaining injury and thus need bodywork. Horses are constantly in pain since it is not natural for them to have riders on their backs. Horses are far more sensitive than most people understand and truly appreciate body work. The beauty of working with animals is that they don't hold on to their hurts the way humans do. After an acupressure session, they just shake and get going - it is so rewarding to see!
More and more bodyworkers are expanding their practices to include animals. It can provide a competitive edge while offering a real benefit to all of the members of their client's family. Animal Acupressure goes hand-in-hand with massage and other forms of bodywork. The more knowledge and skill a practitioner can have in their "medicine bag" the more she/he can care for their client's needs.
By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis Acupressurists, Traditional Chinese Medicine Instructors
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