Have you ever considered what RSI’s mean for your dog?
A Repeat Strain Injury (RSI) is exactly that: an injury. So why do we let our dogs put up with it every day, risking long-term physical (and mental) pain, compensation and eventually deterioration?
Canines spend their lives in a human environment. This is called being spoiled, you think, when considering how we let our puppies live indoors with us, sleep on the bed, watch the TV on the sofa and being taken to places in the car. And while all these things mean the world to our dogs as for they just want to be with us, it also means one thing: RSI’s are happening for them every day.
Go back to the sofa, bed and car… our dogs jump up and down a dozen of times daily. Each time they manage because their body is a super machine but there was no warming up for the muscles, there are slippery floors when landing and the height of some items (depending on the dog’s size) is really quite challenging for them. Add a few steps around the yard and house, playing ball, twisting and turning, jumping and landing and you have just added even more RSI moments. Floorboards, tiles and other smooth surfaces have nothing to hold onto for our dogs and we often see them slipping a bit even when they just want to get up from a snooze. You may think that all this isn’t a problem for them as they do it voluntarily and they show no signs of discomfort but remember how our doggie buddies won’t show pain until they can no longer hide it. The adrenaline that makes them play goofy, happy games also covers up the feeling of pain and sometimes even so far as to where dogs crave a bit of this hormone to suppress the sensation of discomfort. However, the injury is happening all the while: it starts with a small tear in one of a million of muscle fibres, nothing the dog would even notice. But over time more fibres tear, muscles start to compensate automatically, other muscle groups are faced with coping with the changes and a series of unfortunate events happens in the muscles.
Muscles work in pairs called agonist and antagonist and even in groups with supporting so called synergist muscles and only if they work well together to provide the desired movement will they be fulfilling that task well. Muscles also transport blood throughout the whole body and with it nutrients and oxygen, stimulate the lymph flow which acts as the immune system and house nerves so you can imagine what catastrophic results can come from a tiny injury in a muscle affecting all those systems. If it doesn’t get the chance to heal because that muscle repeats the undesired movement continuously several times a day, it will only get worse. We may even notice our dogs having a little limp or walk a bit slower, be hesitant to jump up or look uncomfortable after a big play session with the ball but after a while they seem to be fine again. Think again…the injury is already there. Now it depends on your interference how bad it’ll get.
So what can you do to prevent the RSI from getting worse? You don’t want your best buddy to be in pain or injure other parts of their body due to compensation. You need to look at what your dog does in their everyday lives. Observe them, identify risks around your house and yard and eliminate them. Make yourself notes as to when you see them being in discomfort and if it is getting worse. Make sure you consult a veterinarian if you think there’s pain involved as they may need urgent medical treatment. Find other games to do, go for gentler walks and try Canine Massage Therapy as it is a way of restoring muscle fibres by bringing blood flow to the muscles, speed up healing, relieve pain and compensation. Canine Myofunctional Therapy, when used early enough, can help prevent injuries just as it can help the healing once they have already occurred.
If you would like to help your dog live a pain free life and are interested in making your home and everyday routines with your canine friend safer and more dog friendly, please contact us for information on Canine Myofunctional Therapy and / or Lifestyle consultations. Your dog’s health depends on your influence every day.