The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

May 7, 2022
Sue Palmer

7.5.2022 An Excerpt From The Book ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ by Sue Palmer

Cross Fibre Friction

Cross fibre friction is a technique that is not included in the ‘standard’ massage routine. However, if you find an area that would benefit from further massage work, this is a technique that you can use. You will find that I refer to it often in the chapter on ‘Problem Solving’.

Practising on yourself

It’s important to use two fingers to support each other when you are using this technique, or four fingers if you find that more comfortable. This is to avoid straining and potentially causing injury to the finger that is applying the pressure. With one finger on top of the other, place your fingers on the skin, and squash down into the muscle. Keeping the muscle squashed, slowly circle the skin, taking it to maximum stretch around the circle. (3.30 - It’s important to use two fingers to support each other when you are using this cross fibre friction technique, or four fingers if you find that more comfortable., 3.31 - Keeping the muscle squashed, slowly circle the skin, taking it to maximum stretch around the circle.)

Practising on a partner

See whether you can find a ‘knot’ in your partner’s muscles. The easiest place is usually around the top of and the inside of the shoulder blade. The ‘knot’ might feel like a bit of grit in the muscle, or like a tiny piece of rope, or like a small pea under the skin. Often you can confirm that it’s a knot by applying deep pressure as you move over it, and judging your partner’s reaction – if it’s a knot then deep pressure may well be painful for them. With one finger on top of the other, place your fingers on your partner’s clothing and squash down into the muscle. Keeping the muscle squashed, slowly circle the skin, taking it to maximum stretch around the circle.

Timing

Move slowly to allow the body time to react to the sensation; each circle should take around four seconds to complete. Keep circling until you feel that the skin and muscle has softened under your fingers, or until your partner reports that the area feels more comfortable, then release the pressure and move to another spot.

Common problems with cross fibre friction

Work slowly

Think seriously about how long four seconds is. It’s not just the time it takes you to count to four as quickly as you can! Make sure that each circle takes around four seconds to complete, allowing the body enough time to react to the stretches and mobilisations that you are applying.

Stretch the skin with your fingers, rather than circling over the skin

As with compression and kneading, you can only move the skin as far as it’s able to stretch. If you move over the skin, you will still be having an effect, but it’s a different effect to the cross fibre friction described here. As you work on your own arm, you’ll be able to see the stretch through the skin, and the wrinkles you cause outside of your circle as your skin is ‘scrunched up’ in those areas. Try to imitate this when you work through your partner’s clothing.

Stay comfortable

As with any of these techniques, there is a tendency to believe that you have to press hard in order for the technique to be effective. The body is very clever however, and even light touch will be transferred through the layers of soft tissue and can have an effect deep within the body. It is more important to work slowly, to have the patience to massage for as long as necessary, and to stay focused with the intent to provide comfort, than it is to press hard.

For more information and to order your copy of ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ today, visit www.thehorsephysio.co.uk.

Description of ‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’ by Sue Palmer

”This book is a must for anyone who would like to improve the health, wellbeing or performance of their horse. Practical, educational and easy to follow, the author shares with you the knowledge and skills you need to massage your own horse. Learn about equine anatomy, massage techniques, and how to combine the moves to develop a complete massage routine. With the emphasis on how you can work with your own horse, Sue offers an insight into how to reduce pain and stiffness in your horse as well as improve performance. Massaging your horse gives something back in return for all he does for you, and will help you and your horse to truly enjoy the time that you spend together.”

5 star review on Amazon from Ann T

“I was really impressed by this book. Written clearly, with relevant illustrations that reinforce the text, it tells you what to do and explains why. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the horse's anatomy and it made it easier to understand the massage. The techniques do take some practice - my forearm and partner are as well massaged as the horse! - but they get easier. My older mare certainly enjoys the sessions and it seems to give me feedback on how she's feeling. I think she's moving more easily too. Our horses have benefitted from treatment from both physiotherapists and osteopaths previously and this would in no way replace their expertise, but would hopefully be a useful adjunct. The FAQs are informative and the prompt section a useful idea. The book is great for amateurs like me but I feel that professional riders may find it of interest as well.”

Publisher: ‎ J.A.Allen & Co Ltd; Illustrated edition (30 Aug. 2012)

Language: ‎ English

Paperback: ‎ 128 pages

ISBN-10: ‎ 0851319998

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0851319995

Dimensions: ‎ 19.05 x 1.27 x 24.13 cm

For more information and to order your copy of ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ today, visit www.thehorsephysio.co.uk.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion

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