Me: It most certainly is!
There are a number of ways massage therapy can be a part of your pet's rehabilitation, but first and foremost, it depends on what sort of rehabilitation is taking place. Here are a few examples, just to scratch the surface:
Post surgery — Massage therapy must wait for a minimum of two weeks after surgery has occurred (or when stitches are removed) before becoming a part of the rehabilitation program. Massage will help promote tissue healing and helps with decreased mobility
Injury such as a bone fracture — While the bone heals, it is important not to massage anywhere near the fracture site (in the case of a broken leg, the entire limb will be avoided), however, as I mentioned in my previous post, compensation will occur in other muscles that are taking on the job that the injured area cannot. This is where massage therapy comes in, relieving overworked muscles in compensating areas of the body.
Psychological (animals suffering the effects of abuse or neglect, for example) — Not only will massage help in the physical recovery process involved in rehabilitation, you mustn't forget the positive psychological effect that massage can have. It creates a feeling of well-being, reducing stress, something you want to avoid as much as possible during the recovery and rehabilitation process. Importantly, the immune system will be strengthened as stress is also avoided.
Neurological issues and trauma — Concussions, for example, can have a surprising impact on the entire body because of the potential damage to endocrine glands in the brain, damage to memory, emotion, learning and so on. Massage therapy will help calm and reconnect damaged nerves and increase mental alertness. The calmness provided relaxes the mind, body and spirit. This is also where the enhancement of the human-animal bond and general trust comes in to play.
Detoxification (from poor diet, prescription drugs or perhaps post surgery) — Again, if after surgery, massage therapy must wait a minimum of two weeks. Lymphatic drainage massage is focused on the moving and draining of the lymph from the extremities into the lymph nodes for processing and elimination. The light, slow strokes involved are used to stimulate the peripheral nerves, blood and lymph vessels. While blood is being returned to the heart via the veins, lymph is encouraged to drain the tissues of interstitial fluid, filtering out larger particles, waste and toxic particles through the nodes. Lymphatic drainage massage also assists in the regeneration of tissue and stimulates the immune system.
The purpose of massage is to relieve pain and loosen physical tension by the deliberate manual manipulation of muscle, sinew and joints, thereby improving elasticity, range of motion and circulation—all of which are profoundly affected by injury. Working to bring back any elasticity, ROM or circulation that may have been lost due to the injury, and due to the recovery (resting) process is precisely why massage therapy is an integral part of your pet's rehabilitation.