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Compression Wraps vs Static Wraps

Compression Wraps vs Static Wraps

Compression therapy has been around a lot longer than you might think. It was first used in human medicine around 400 BC and over the past century physicians have used graduated compression stockings to improve venous return and circulation, and improve recovery time from injuries. Sports scientists have found human athletes who wear graduated compression garments during activity, specifically after intense activity, have increased oxygen availability to muscles, significantly reduced lactic acid production, enhanced recovery time from injury, reduced DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and swelling associated with exercise. Compression garments have also been shown to assist the body in flushing out waste products (lactic acids and carbon dioxide) after exercise.

From humans to horses
The use of compression wraps for horses has now moved into the mainstream with much of the technology and experience borrowed from human medicine.

Hot, humid climates pose significant risk to horses’ delicate legs, specifically with strenuous conditioning and training. Traditional quilts and polos can trap heat around the leg, or, in a worst-case scenario, a bad wrapping job can be the end of a horse’s career.

Keeping horses stabled with minimal time for free movement, along with concentrated physical training, results in an unnatural movement routine. The transport capacity of the lymphatic system decreases significantly when a horse is standing in a confined space, such as a stall, small paddock, or trailer. The flow velocity and total volume of lymph fluid being moved is reduced, putting the standing horse at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to recovery from injury or exertion. Because the horse has roughly 8,000 lymph nodes, compared to an average of 500 in humans, there is a greater propensity for lymphatic “bottlenecks”— the lymphatic fluid slows down and concentrates when entering each lymph node.

Not surprisingly, performance horses frequently develop swollen or filled legs because of lymphatic compromise.  Graduated compression acts like a mechanical massage on the leg, stimulating circulation and keeping the leg tight and cool.

Preventing “stocking up”

While standing wraps have been the accepted methodology to counteract stocking up, research by lymph specialist Dirk Berens von Rautenfeld from the Medical University of Hannover calls this age-old practice into question.

“Bandages are poison for the lymphatic and blood flow once the horse is not moving,” writes von Rautenfeld, who worked with Professor Cordula Poulsen Nautrup from the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Munich. The problem becomes extremely critical when the head of the fetlock is bandaged because there is already a natural bottleneck at this spot, and the bandage completely restricts the transport systems.

“Every horse has an essentially weak pumping system serving the vascular walls,” says von Rautenfeld. “Standing idle in a stall leads to insufficient absorption and subsequent evacuation of watery lymphatic fluids by the venous capillaries and lymphatic stream. Since lymphatic fluids follow gravity, they pool at the lowest points of the horse’s body—the legs. The best and cheapest antidote is movement, so that the vascular musculature pumps the lymphatic fluids up into the chest cavity and gut for elimination.”

Von Rautenfeld suggests equine compression wraps be used as a prophylactic measure. He recommends horses wear compression for half the day or when stalled, and that they be turned out into a reasonably sized pasture for the remainder of the day.

 

Static versus Compression wrap

One study compared traditional bandaging material with elastic compression garments on lymph flow in a horse’s legs. Ten horses with a tendency for stocking up were examined under sedation with lymphangiography. A continuous subdermal injection of X-ray contrast fluid was put through the lymph vessels of the horses’ legs. The fluid movement was seen to stop with the use of traditional standing wraps, but maintained normal flow with the elastic compression garments.

Wraps provide graduated compression from under the fetlock and up the cannon, When a horse is sized correctly, the wrap should fit like a second skin, exerting “mechanical pressure” on the skin surface, stimulating rather than constricting circulation. The fabric used in these garments is woven specifically for vascular support.

 

Compression wraps also manage conditions like lymphangitis or severe wounds.
What if the horse has sustained a horrific injury or developed lymphangitis? Compression therapy for your equine buddy needs to be as individualized for him as it would be for yourself. Sizing, service, and product quality are keys to making compression therapy work for your horse.  Always discuss the use of compression wraps with your veterinarian or therapist prior to application.

Best Practical Applications for Compression Wraps.

Resources

Alternative Action Treating Lymphangitis, HolisticHorse.com

Equine Compression Stockings, Gentle Touch Massage & Holistic Alternatives, LLC

History, Hidez Science, hidez.com

Compression Bandaging to Manage Edema, Mimi Porter, HolisticHorse.com

 

 

OU1  Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_stockings#History

 

OU2  Human Kinetics, Compression garments may be beneficial to recovery process, excerpt from Recovery for Performan in Sport edited by INSEP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INSEP) (http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/compression-garments-may-be-beneficial-to-recovery-process

 

OU3 Equine MLD, Heather Powell, http://equinemld.com/research-articles/  

Combined decongestive therapy including equine manual lymph drainage to assist management of chronic progressive lymphoedema in draft horses. H. Powell,Equine MLD, Worcestershire, UK; V.K. Affolter, UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, Davis, USA

Bloodstock, Equine Health, July/August 2012 – The importance of the lymphatic system.

 

OU4   Term “Stocking up” is accepted colloquial expression among equine enthusiasts and veterinary medicine/von Hauff.

Equine Compression Stockings, Gentle Touch Massage & Holistic Alternatives, LLC www.gentletouchmassage.net,

http://www.ml-pferd.de/&prev=search

 

OU5 http://www.ml-pferd.de/&prev=search   Equine Compression Stockings, Gentle Touch Massage & Holistic Alternatives, LLC

 

OU6   http://www.ml-pferd.de/&prev=search

Equine Compression Stockings, Gentle Touch Massage & Holistic Alternatives, LLC

 

OU7  Holistic Horse, From Humans to Horses, Mimi Porter

Bloodstock, Equine Health, July/August 2012 – The importance of the lymphatic system

Donna von Hauff is a founder of Strathcona Ventures, the managing company for EquiCrown Canada. She is also a member of the Practice Review Board for the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. Her career history spans serving as Vice President of Concordia University of Edmonton 1996-2006, working as a consultant to the Alberta government and industry 1985 – 1997, and an author/editor of magazine and scholarly articles, and four books. Early retirement provided Donna with the opportunity to further develop her knowledge and work with horses and their owners/riders/trainers.

www.EquiCrownCanada.com

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