top of page

What is Sports massage?

Massage therapy focusing on muscle systems relevant to a particular sport/discipline. A thorough understanding of anatomy and the interaction of bones, joints and muscles are the basis of the proven physical and mental therapy that is the art of massage.

What are the causes of muscle issues and damage?


  • Inappropriate age for level of work

  • Muscle over-development

  • Nervous tension

  • Injury

  • Over-use

  • Cooling down too fast

  • Incorrect trimming/shoeing

  • Over-stretching

  • Poor nutrition

  • Poor saddle or saddle pad fit

  • Dental problems

  • Bad footing (too deep or too hard)

  • Unbalanced rider

  • Systematic illnesses

What are the benefits of sports massage?

Increases range of motion and gait quality: A longer, more efficient stride can make a difference in many a situation. For example, if the range of motion of a horse’s stride is increased by even as little as 2cm, this could add up to 4m or more at the end of a 1000m race! A bigger stride puts less stress on the horse’s joints, ligaments and tendons which leads to a longer performance life. A horse that has optimum range of motion will also have a more expressive stride and be more comfortable and agile performing in whichever sport is required of him.

Improves stamina: A horse that is comfortable in its body will be able to go on longer without tiring, therefore increasing its performance.

Improves disposition: Often a horse that is referred to as “just being naughty” is a horse in pain who expresses his pain by rearing, biting, kicking, bucking, pulling to one side etc. Sports massage will benefit these horses by removing the cause of the pain. It also can have a calming effect on highly strung or nervous horses and teaches youngsters to accept and enjoy the touch of a human hand.

Rehabilitation of muscles following injury: Working with permission or supervision of a veterinarian, the Equine Body Worker can offer the injured horse comfort through massage, stretching and appropriate exercises which will aid in reducing muscle scar tissue which can help restore the muscle to better returning function.

Improves circulation: Sports massage aids in improving circulation, flushing toxins out of the horse’s system, therefore improving immune function and decreasing lactic acid build up. Massage also tones the muscles and creates a glossy coat.

How often should my horse be massaged?

Pleasure horse: If you are a rider who rides for pleasure, perhaps competes in the odd competition here and there, your horse should be massaged every 3 to 4 weeks.

Competition horse: For the more serious competitor who has a horse on a strict fitness programme and goals for competing at high levels, this horse should be massaged every 2 weeks.

High Level competition horse: The high level competition horse in serious training for sports such as racing, endurance, steeple chase, Grand Prix Jumping, FEI level Dressage etc. should ideally be massaged every 1 – 2 weeks.

Retired horse: These horses will benefit from a massage every 6 weeks.

Injured horse: The injured or rehabilitating horse can be massaged under supervision or with permission from your veterinarian. The typical injured horse will benefit from a massage performed once to three times a week for 2 weeks however this can vary.

When can I exercise my horse after a massage?

Exercise, dependent on the severity of the problem, is ideal immediately or up to 3 hours following a massage session. If the horse cannot be ridden it is recommended that the horse is walked/trotted in hand for 15 to 20 minutes after the session. This is an excellent way for the horse to learn to use his "new" muscles. 

We highly recommend the Academic Art of Riding which has been proven to be extremely beneficial to all horses. We often advise that the AAoR is used as a basis of a horse's education and/or to rehabilitate weak muscles. Please click here for more information about the Academic Art of Riding in South Africa.

Equine Body Worker in South Africa
bottom of page