5 Reasons To Stretch That Dog
My name is “Linus Winston” and I am a 6-year- old Husky-Great Pyrenees mix. A few years ago my human started doing a stretching routine with me. Besides the fact that I love all the attention, it feels amazing and I think it is truly adding quality years to my life. My human and I put together 5 of the top reasons why it is so important for us dogs to get stretched on a regular basis.
Increased Range Of Motion
The most obvious and well-researched benefit of stretching is to help improve joint range of motion. As our dogs age and their muscles begin to tighten, decreased range of motion is a common issue. Less mobility makes them more susceptible to injury if they, for example, jump off of a deck chasing a skunk (My dog “Linus” can tell you all about that – skunk is his favorite). Keep your dog’s joints healthy and moving well by doing a great stretching routine. Your dog will love you!
Besides checking your dog’s movement, a frequent stretching routine will greatly enhance your pup’s flexibility. Flexibility is a key part to your dog’s overall musculoskeletal health. Maintaining good flexibility also aids in the prevention of injuries to the musculoskeletal system.[ii] Another benefit is that an increase in flexibility is accompanied by improved balance and coordination[iii]. We need our dogs to be well coordinated as we take them hiking, biking or paddle boarding!
Stretching increases blood flow in the muscles[iv]. An increase in blood flow and circulation allows oxygen and nutrients to be carried to organs and muscles, which our beloved four legged friends need for proper function, strength, movement, and flexibility.
Assess Your Dog's Muscular Skeletal Health
Most of the time we aren’t aware that our dogs are injured or in trouble unless they limp, squeal, can’t get up, etc. Stretching is an excellent way to see how functional your animal is before more serious injuries occur. Do they have a difficult time stretching that left front versus the right front? Do they pull away their right hind limb when you gently try to stretch it? Do they have a difficult time extending that neck? You will be aware of some of your pup’s musculoskeletal ailments because you can feel them as you stretch them.
Know When To Take Preventative Action
Why wait to take your dog to your healthcare provider until they are in agonizing pain? I teach most of these stretches to my dog patients’ parents, as they will be able to recognize when they need to bring in their dog to get adjusted. Maybe your dog simply needs a little rest; maybe you will be able to avoid further injury by slowing down for a bit. Ask your animal health provider about holistic programs such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, laser therapy. They have proven extremely beneficial for musculoskeletal problems.
[i] Knudson, D. (2006). The biomechanics of stretching. Journal of Exercise Science and Physiotherapy, 2, 3–12.
[ii] Shellock FG, Prentice WE. Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Med 1985; 2: 267–78
[iii] Ryan, Edwin E1; Rossi, Mark D1; Lopez, Richard2 The Effects of the Contract-Relax-Antagonist-Contract Form of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching on Postural Stability. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 7 - pp 1888-1894 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181ddad9d
[iv] Shellock, F.G. & Prentice, W.E. Sports Medicine (1985) 2: 267. doi:10.2165/00007256-198502040-00004