Acupressure and Massage for Low Back Soreness

Whether your dog is a competitive athlete or your household best friend, when they experience Low Back Soreness (LBS), we all want to relieve the discomfort as quickly as possible.

Acupressure and massage are two effective healing modalities that work extremely well together in providing pain relief and strengthening the compromised area to help avoid future injuries.

Common indicators of Low Back Soreness include:

•   Resistance to touch or brushing along the lower back
•   Difficulty climbing or descending stairs
•   Difficulty lying down or getting up
•   Uneven gait

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Acupressure point work techniques

Begin Point Work using the direct-thumb technique. Place the ball of your thumb on the acupoint at a 45 to 90-degree angle to your dog’s body. Or, anchor your middle finger on top of your pointer finger  and apply gentle pressure. When you feel resistance, let up on the point slightly and then lightly apply pressure again.

Keep both hands on the dog. One hand does the Point Work while the other feels the reactions such as muscle twitches, yawning, shaking, stretching, and other energy releases. The hand not performing Point Work rests comfortably on the dog.

Breathe out while moving into the acupoint; breathe in when letting up on the point. Stay on the point for a slow count to 20. If the dog seems uncomfortable with a particular acupoint, move on and try it again at the next session.

Gentle positional release and compression technique slowly moving the ends of the muscle together to release contracted muscles.

Gentle positional release and compression technique slowly moving the ends of the muscle together to release contracted muscles.

Massage/Trigger Point Therapy

To relieve tight muscles created by trigger points - small microscopic contractions in a muscle or tissue - direct trigger point therapy is beneficial.

Trigger points can be deactivated in the same way you would approach an acupressure point; however, with a trigger point, it is more common that you find raised tissue or a nodule as opposed to a dip or valley in the tissue. Gently engaging the tip of your finger into a specific "knot" or tight band of tissue will release the constriction on a microscopic level releasing the muscle in which it is housed. 

Common areas to apply trigger point therapy for Low Back Soreness are on the paraspinal muscles, located just later to the spine on both sides in the lumbar region.

When muscles are in a contracted state due to "fascial binding", we can apply a technique called finger or palmar compression to slowly spread tissue. This allows blood and oxygen into the structures while opening blood vessels to allow waste and by products out of the tissue. As a result, the muscle relaxes allowing for more specific trigger point work. The animal is more willing and able to accept the specific nature of this touch and form of therapy if done slowly, gracefully, and intuitively. 

During compression, hold the sides of the lumbar back with the pads of your fingers or entire palm, depending on the size of the dog. Hold for 10-20 seconds. As the tissue softens and spreads, you'll find that your fingers slowly sink in. Then add a gentle pumping movement with your fingers: this will continue to release the tissue.   

A full intake, history, and exam are key in uncovering the origin of Low Back Soreness. Massage and acupressure are distinct therapeutic modalities that can address LBS effectively. Both modalities are backed by solid scientific and clinical proof of their value - learn to integrate their respective benefits and provide the best health to your animals.