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And how are you today?

When was the last time you had your dog checked over by a massage therapist, chiropractor, osteopath or other practitioner? And now, when was the last time YOU were treated or checked over? Sports therapist Tamzin Grimes believes that quite a few agility handlers would benefit in the ring from a deep tissue massage so she has set up a massage service at various shows for those people who don't have time to fit in a treatment to their weekdays!

In this day and age of agility we are all very much in tune with our dogs, making sure they are jumping efficiently and keeping their physical condition at an optimum level. But how many of us can truthfully say the same for ourselves?

The emphasis of a sports massage is very much on rehabilitation and recovery for injuries or niggles and relaxation. It works on both the psychological and physiological levels.

Physiologically, Sports/Deep Tissue massage aids the blood flow into damaged areas and draws out lactic acid and other waste products. It will stretch out tight muscles and rebalance the musculoskeletal system, improving the elasticity of the tissues and encouraging the circulation within the areas massaged.

The psychological benefits will vary from person to person, but may include reducing anxiety, as a state of relaxation is induced. Massage can also be invigorating, so is useful in a pre-event situation.

The benefits
Whilst agility itself may not provide any obvious repetitive injuries, think about the twisting and turning that we do as we move to get our dog to do that out-round, or the pull in at the end of a straight line. Knees and ankles can take some strain. And how about all the miles we put in driving to and from shows. Back neck and shoulders can get rather tight. If these problems are allowed to become chronic they may hinder your agility runs.

Work life and day to day activity will also play a big part in not only how we are generally feeling, but also our physical ability. Take a moment to think about some of the repetitive movements that you may do in any one day and now think about how these may build up over the course of a week.

Success stories
At a recent show, a gentleman came to see me with complaints of limited movement in his neck, caused by his job as a builder and plasterer. He had thought that a few days rest over the weekend would improve it, but instead the caravan tow had actually made it worse. We did one 30 minute treatment. The following day he had the colour back in his face and said that he felt he was much more able to run his dog without feeling sick from the pain.

One Grade 3 handler came to see me at a recent show on the Saturday. The previous week her dog seemed to be going in any direction other the one she wanted. Upon assessment, I found that her right shoulder was rounded and raised, and her lower back was so twisted that her feet weren't facing straight. One 30 minute treatment later, and two clear rounds were achieved!

I have been treating another handler at various times this season so far. Over the past two months, I have seen a great improvement in her range of movement and overall muscle condition. Having come to see me at a show in April, it was obvious that various muscle imbalances were hindering her ability to run her dog. Whilst some of this came from a medical condition, we decided that a course of massage would help provide some relief and, hopefully improve overall comfort. Fortunately, over a course of four treatments in the last 10 weeks this has been achieved. I am pleased to say that our last treatment was declared  'almost relaxing!'

So, as you are sitting at your computer reading this, take a moment to really think about how you feel physically. How do your shoulders feel? Are they rounded? Are you slouching forward from your core? Now stand up. How easy was it? How do your knees feel? Do the same the next time you are training your dog.

So, from now on, if you want to get the best from your agility, you should regularly review not only your dog's performance but yours, too.'

About the author...
Tamzin Grimes has been competing in agility since the age of six! Having run collies for her parents and their friends, she was given her own dog, a Papillion, at the age of 10. They had a lot of fun, and some success in the KCJO (now YKC) competitions, qualifying for Crufts. During her time with the YKC Tamzin was privileged to be voted onto the Management Board and be invited to teach at the first Norwegian YKC Camp.

Professionally, Tamzin gained a degree and spent four years working in the media Industry in London. Having decided she wanted to do something that gave her a greater sense of wellbeing, she completed a diploma in Personal Training & Sports Massage Therapy and worked in the sports centre of a prestigious boys school for  two years. Tamzin has now taken the leap into being self-employed, and has treatment spaces in Gillingham, Sherborne and Farnham, Dorset where she can offer not only Sports and Deep Tissue Massage but also Personal Training and Nutritional Advice.

Tamzin will be at shows throughout the season. A full listing will be on her website which will updated regularly. If you would like to have a treatment at your show, boot camp, or looking towards winter workshops please  email Tamzin at , or ring/text m. 07729 222622 or visit Tamzin at shows at the sign of the blue Phoenix!


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