World Agility Open From A Canine Massage Therapists Role
It seems so far away now since I headed down south to Buckinghamshire on the 10th of May for the World Agility Open Championships. This was a great opportunity for me to mix two of my passions: Dog Agility and Canine Massage Therapy.
Saying that, it was a weird feeling to be travelling to the World Agility Open Championship without my Border Collie, Manouk. Manouk and I were part of the very first Team Scotland in 2011 and for the first time since I started dog agility 15 years ago I was heading to a major dog agility event as a non-competitor without my team mate.
This time I was going as the Agility Team Scotland’s Canine Massage Therapist, my role being to help the Scottish Canine Athletes perform at the best of their abilities and gosh how they did!
For the two training and three competition days, from 07:30 to 23:30, I worked on 13 of the dogs in the Scottish team, providing in total just under 100 pre run warm up massages as well as post event cool down massages. The evenings being spent treating the dogs that I felt needed a little bit more focus to release muscular tension, stiffness or trigger points that were building over the week.
I came back happy, exhausted and, very importantly, inspired by the experience. I loved every minute of it! Needless to say I barely saw any of the competition, well just enough to lose my voice!
Whilst to my knowledge there were only three teams with a dedicated massage or physical therapist (the two other teams being Canada and the USA), the importance of the massages in warm up and cool down routine of the canine athlete should not be undervalued.
Warm Up Massages are designed to stimulate the blood flow to improve the elasticity and flexibility of the muscles which, in turn, can dramatically increase the range of motion as well as the strength and power. It should be the first step of a comprehensive warm up routine which should obviously also include more dynamic exercises.
Did you know that humans who are properly warmed up before a 100-meter sprint run 7% faster than those that aren’t? Transposing this to Agility could potentially equate to 3 to 4 seconds faster on a typical agility run!
Cool Down Massages are designed to reduce the recovery time as well as ease muscular stiffness and fatigue. They also promote the elimination of exercise induced metabolic wastes and for certain canine athletes they also provide a calming effect after the adrenaline rush. This last aspect should not be taken lightly as so many dogs were showing significant signs of mental fatigue as the week went on.
I must admit on the journey to the WAO I was uncertain how seriously the team would take the concept of warm up and cool down massages. This uncertainty, however, proved to be unfounded as I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I had from all the handlers who definitely made me feel a complete and valuable part of the team!
Ultimately the effects of massage therapy speak for themselves as Agility Team Scotland came back with some amazing results:
- Sweep and Euan Patterson won Gold in the individual 650 cm Pentathlon with an absolutely amazing performance as well as Silver in the Individual Biathlon. Making them no doubt the most successful pair of the whole competition. They were on fire over the week!
- Kelsy and Yvonne Reid won the gambler’s round in the individual 300 cm Games
- Kayla and Donna Kerse won the jumping round in the individual 300 cm Biathlon
- Ritz and Cathy MacDonald were second in the bonus speed stake 400 cm
- Peter Elms and Jynx were third in the agility round of the individual 525 cm Biathlon
- Dane Redford and Edge were third in the individual bonus speed stake 650 cm
I feel honoured by the trust you put in my ability with your team mates so now it is my time to thank all the team for your feedback! And hopefully I will see you all next year!
Agnes – Agility Team Scotland Canine Massage Therapist
“I very much appreciated the support Agnès provided to this year’s Agility Team Scotland in the role of Canine Therapist. Her tireless work through the event ensured the dogs were fully warmed up and prepared for their runs and cooled down appropriately ensuring they were performing at their best. Her professional approach contributed significantly to what has been the most successful ever showing by Agility Team Scotland at WAO. I am very much hoping Agnes will continue to support the team in the coming years” – Alan Short -Team Manager
“I really owe Agnès Campan a massive thank you too. I asked a lot of Sweep last weekend, pushing him hard for 3 days and Agnes’ s massage treatment kept him running and moving so well. Thank you Agnes!” – Euan Paterson and Sweep – Penthatlon gold winner (650 cm) & Biathlon silver (650 cm)
“You were awesome, so pleased we had you on board. The difference your work has made to Kelsy is remarkable. Thank you Agnès” – Yvonne Reid and Kelsy – Game Gambler winner (300 cm)
“I would like to thank Agnès for her role in the Agility Team Scotland for helping maintaining our dogs before each run at the World Agility Open.
“Agility is a top sport that requires our dogs to be in top condition and with Agnès’s help they certainly were. Many of the dogs/handlers came home with prizes including the gold & silver position. Once again, thank you” – Cathy Mc Donald and Ritz- Bonus speed stake second
“What a different in Howie’s jumping after just one session with you Agnes, thanks so much” – Lee Owen and Howie
Author: Agnès Campan
For more information please visit Agnès Campan‘s biography