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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

A systematic review of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine in sport and companion animals: soft tissue mobilization

Bergh, Anna; Asplund, Kjell; Lund, Irene; Boström, Anna; Hyytiäinen, Heli

Abstract

Simple Summary Soft tissue mobilization involves different massage and stretching techniques that are commonly used in animals. Despite the frequent use, there is limited knowledge of how the methods affect the animal. Therefore, this study reviews the scientific literature on massage and stretching in cats, dogs, and horses. Three core bibliographic sources were used. Relevant articles were assessed for scientific quality, and information was extracted on study characteristics, species, type of treatment, indication, and treatment effects. Of 1189 unique publications screened, 11 met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review, nine on massage and two on stretching. The risk of bias was assessed as high in eight of the studies and moderate in three of the studies. There were large differences in reported treatment effects; two studies assessed as having a moderate risk of bias indicated a decreased heart rate after massage. According to the results, the scientific documentation of massage and stretching is not of sufficient quality to draw clear conclusions about their clinical effect in horses, dogs, and cats. Soft tissue mobilization is frequently used in the treatment of sport and companion animals. There is, however, uncertainty regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of these methods. Therefore, the aim of this systematic literature review was to assess the evidence for clinical effects of massage and stretching in cats, dogs, and horses. A bibliographic search, restricted to studies in cats, dogs, and horses, was performed on Web of Science Core Collection, CABI, and PubMed. Relevant articles were assessed for scientific quality, and information was extracted on study characteristics, species, type of treatment, indication, and treatment effects. Of 1189 unique publications screened, 11 were eligible for inclusion. The risk of bias was assessed as high in eight of the studies and moderate in three of the studies, two of the latter indicating a decreased heart rate after massage. There was considerable heterogeneity in reported treatment effects. Therefore, the scientific evidence is not strong enough to define the clinical efficacy and effectiveness of massage and stretching in sport and companion animals.

Keywords

massage; stretching; myofascial release; soft tissue mobilization; shiatsu; trigger point therapy; tactile therapy; massager machine; massage gun

Published in

Animals
2022, volume: 12, number: 11, article number: 1440

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Asplund, Kjell
Umea University
Lund, Irene
Karolinska Institutet
Boström, Anna
University of Helsinki
Hyytiäinen, Heli
University of Helsinki

Associated SLU-program

SLUsystematic

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12111440

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/117450