BY TYLER BUI
We provide the highest quality of care for our horses’ bodies, but what about our own? In almost any other sport, the athlete’s physical state is top priority—but our sport is unique, as it requires two athletes—a horse and a rider, and we end up often overlooking the well-being of one side of the partnership.
Human Touch is reminding riders about the importance of taking care of our physical health, and how optimizing our bodies will improve riding performance. As the top selling massage chair brand in the U.S. and the official massage chair of the USHJA, Human Touch chairs have changed the lives of many through the improvement of physical performance and range of motion, and well-known fans include McLain Ward, Jimmy Torano, and Adrienne Lyle.
The company is endorsed by the World Federation of Chiropractic, made up of thousands of physical therapists, chiropractors, and medical practitioners who use Human Touch equipment on a daily basis. Over 40 of the NCAA Top sports programs rely on Human Touch massage chairs for recovery and relief for their athletes, including the University of Alabama, the University of Georgia, Clemson University, and Vanderbilt University to name a few.
Looking at the top athletes and programs in almost any other sport, massage therapy is one of the most common and effective ways to provide relief and prevent injuries. While it’s a common practice with our equine companions, we see so many riders, whether amateur or professional, hobbling around the barn or showgrounds unable to perform at their best ability.
“There seems to be a consensus that riders do not take care of themselves as much as their horses,” Troy Hinson, Equestrian Program Manager at Human Touch, tells The Plaid Horse. “There’s so much focus on the horse, so the rider also needs to make their self care more of a priority. By taking care of yourself, it means you’re taking care of the horse because it makes it easier on them.”
How Massage Can Help Performance
Long story short, our muscles get sore after physical exertion whether in the gym or on a horse. Micro tears and damage are created in our muscles in this process. The necessary nutrients are shuttled around the body through circulation and into the muscle to repair and rebuild these tissues. This is why massage therapy is such an effective recovery method. The faster your muscles are able to receive the vital nutrients and oxygen rich blood flow, the quicker your recovery. That improved circulation leads to a faster recovery.
“Your joints, your back, your spine, your hips, and your knees are all taking a pounding while riding while they are trying to absorb all that constant shock,” says Hinson. “If your muscles are better recovered and can operate at a more optimum level, that in turn makes it easier on the horse—as well as your joints and spine. It really gives the rider on the horse the best opportunity to succeed.”
The chair itself offers a full body massage, targeting and compressing specific areas such as the feet and calves to improve circulation. It also targets the arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to help out with inflammation or can slow any arthritic developments. The rollers work through the neck, shoulders, full back, and glutes, to help melt away that tension stress while relieving sciatic or lower back pain.
Like most massages, a Human Touch chair massage can lower heart rate and blood pressure, and increase blood flow and circulation. In addition to the other physical benefits, the massage will help to release muscle tension and improve flexibility and range of motion.
“Put yourself in zero gravity, which is a term coined by Human Touch and NASA,” Hinson continues. “Also known as “The neutral position,” it takes the stress and tension off the the spine, hips and knees as you slowly recline and feel like you’re nearly floating. During relaxation through massage therapy, your body increases the amount of serotonin and melatonin which helps to reduce the amount of cortisol production and reduce stress, which improves mood, and improves sleep.” Human Touch’s goal is to get riders to better prioritize their bodies and physical health. Human Touch has launched a new, customizable lease-to-own program and also has 0% financing options available “to create more opportunities for riders, trainers, and barn owners to have Human Touch massage chairs in their barns, tack rooms, employee break rooms, and homes,” says Hinson.
Overall, using a Human Touch massage chair will speed up recovery, alleviating tension and stress in the muscles and aiding relaxation. When muscles are recovered, the rider has improved physical ability. While it may not be your first thought, better prioritizing your body as the rider will be beneficial to your partnership and performance with your horse.
82% of Human Touch owners who purchased a massage chair FOR SPORTS RECOVERY feel their chair has been effective
63% of Human Touch massage chair owners take less medication or no medication now, as compared to before purchasing their chair
78% of Human Touch owners who purchased a massage chair FOR STRESS RELIEF feel their chair has been effective
How Does Massaging the Rider Help the Horse?
The more fresh blood flow you’ve got to your muscles, the quicker the recovery. The quicker the recovery, the easier it will be for your muscles to perform at the optimal ability while riding. The better your muscle recovery and performance, the more your muscles take the workload off your horse, and the easier you make your horse’s job. Human Touch chairs are designed to target areas important to riders, like the lower back, neck, shoulders, feet and calves, plus arms, hands, wrists, and fingers, to reduce pain and inflammation and to slow arthritic developments.”
Benefits of Massage
Daily massage alleviates…
- Lower back or sciatic pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Hip pain or soreness
- Headaches and migraines
- Foot pain and plantar fasciitis
- Plus: Massage aids in recovery and preventative maintenance, improves sleep, and improves circulation
Human Touch Fans and Supporters
- McLain Ward
- Jimmy Torano
- Adrienne Lyle
- Several NCAA Division I sports programs, including University of Alabama, Clemson University, and Vanderbilt University
How to Choose a Human Touch Chair
Visit humantouch.com/equestrian and the website will guide you through several questions about your goals (from reducing back pain or stress to improving recovery time or sleep), where you’ll use your chair, how much space you have to use, and whether you prefer a gentle or invigorating touch. At the end, you’ll get customized options that fit your needs, plus the ability to connect with the company to ask more questions.
PHOTOS: ES EQUINE PHOTOGRAPHY & COURTESY HUMAN TOUCH
*This story was originally published in the October/November 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!