Warm-Ups and PROMs

Written By: Jean Emery - January• 31•13

Getting started in agility can seem overwhelming at first.  So much to learn from training obstacles and other skills to your dog, to learning how to direct your dog around a course to the rules of the game itself.  But there is one more critical component that you should not ignore: your dog’s physical health.

Agility demands much from your dog and preventing injury is largely your responsibility.  Properly conditioning your canine athlete for the sport is a topic for another time.  This post tackles what you should do right before each run to make sure that your dog’s muscles and joints are ready for vigorous activity.

Dr. Julie Mayer, DVM, and rehabilitation specialist, stopped by to talk with me about why it is important to warm-up our dogs before working them.  But she also introduced me to the concept of warming up not just the dog’s muscles, but the joints of each leg and the neck.  Here’s our conversation:

 

 

Passive Range of Motion (PROM)

Most of us understand how to warm up our dog’s muscles by doing some light running or jumping before training.  What may not be as familiar is the concept of performing passive range of motion on your dog’s limbs.  Passive means that you as the handler will move the front and rear extremities.  Range of motion refers to the distance and direction you will move the joint between the flexed position and the extended position.

PROM exercise is done to preserve flexibility and mobility of the joint, to loosen stiff joints and hopefully eliminate and prevent injury by preparing the vital leg joints for the impacts of agility jumping and turning.

Dr. Julie demonstrates how to do PROM on your dog.

Cool Downs

After vigorous activity, you will want to cool down your dog to allow its body to return to its normal state. Giving your dog time to cool down, at least 2-5 minutes, will help get oxygen to the muscles that might have been depleted by the demanding activity, as well as get rid of waste products such as lactic acid that has been generated.  Cool down can be as simple as walking the dog around.  You may also want to gently massage the dog from head literally to each toe.

This is also a good time to run a quick check for any sign of injury or small changes that could turn into bigger problems if left unattended.  Dr. Julie calls it scanning and shows us how she scans dogs that come into her rehabilitation practice.

If have specific questions about passive range of motion, or scanning, you can contact Dr. Julie through her website.  Also, look for an article by Dr. Julie in the February 2013 issue of Clean Run Magazine.

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