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Understanding Muscles and Fascia

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

By Jessica Limpkin, Equine Massage Therapist


This week I have been really excited about the return of ‘Webinar Wednesdays’ with Gillian Higgins of Horses Inside Out. This month’s webinar was on the subject of ‘Understanding Muscles and Fascia’. Being a Massage Therapist these are of course 2 of my favourite subjects! This webinar is now available to watch anytime, anywhere, as many times as you like online in the Horses Inside Out Academy.

As I am sure you can imagine I was excited to take part in this webinar and find out what more I could learn in order for me to improve my knowledge, understanding and of course my treatments. I have also been recommending these webinars to my clients, as even though there is tons of in depth information included in the webinars, the way Gillian presents the information with a great enthusiasm and sense of fun, there is something for everyone to learn and every horse can benefit from an owner/rider/trainer with a more in depth knowledge of how their horse works!

As with all of Gillian’s webinars, the benefit of watching live is you are able to ask questions during the webinar and have them answered live by Gillian. However, there is also the opportunity to purchase life-time access to a recording of the webinar at a later date from the Horses Inside Out Online Academy and I definitely think this is worthwhile with this particular webinar as the run time was over 2 hours and there was so much to take in you may need to pause and take notes!


gillian higgins horses inside out What's the difference between muscles, fascia, tendon and ligament in horses? Can you train them? Can you tear them? Can fascia heal? does scar tissue heal? equine superficial and deep skeletal musculature

During the webinar you will learn about the different types of muscle contraction and how to recognise them and what types of exercises or movements require each type.

These are: · Dynamic contractions (Eccentric and Concentric) · Static contractions (Isometric)


Gillian also explains DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and the importance of cross training. Something I am often discussing with my clients. We all know how it feels when we complete a tough workout at the gym, or a long walk or run that we are not used to doing. We feel it in our bodies, not the following day but actually the day after the day after…….. that is DOMS and horses get it too! It is so important to design your horse’s exercise plan with this in mind.

gillian higgins horses inside out How to test for sore muscles in your horse's back. How do you know your horse has a sore back? feel equine back muscles, longissimus dorsi, tension,

Gillian also advises in this webinar how to structure your horse’s training around this. And how to design your horse’s exercise plan around their age and stage in training. You will also learn how to test for sore muscles and develop your palpation skills. I think this is really important for all horse owners to learn, I am always happy to demonstrate to my clients how to check their horse’s muscles for tightness or soreness.

This video is now available to watch in the free tutorial video channel of the Academy.

If you regularly do this with your own horse you will learn what is normal for them and what is not, and also when you need to call in a professional such as myself to treat your horse. And hopefully if you can do this you will be able to call in the professional before your horse gets too sore and this either leads to a pathology in the body and/or they feel so sore you get bucked off! Gillian then went on to explain the stretch and recoil systems in the horse’s body. This is the way in which the body stores energy created from movement and used it to propel the body forward.


gillian higgins horses inside out galloping horse, stretch and recoil, biceps catapult, moment of suspension, webinar, bioimechanics

She included some incredible slow motion video footage from her latest project Anatomy in Action - check it out HERE.


It is truly quite amazing how much the soft tissue in the body contributes to energy and movement. Moving at slower speeds requires more strength from the body, where as moving at faster speeds requires more stretch and recoil contribution to movement. And we then got on to learning about the Fascia, which is actually the largest system in the body. The 3D web that encapsulates the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and organs. I think Fascia could have had it’s very own webinar. Although I do understand why Gillian linked muscles and fascia together in one webinar as they are so intrinsically linked. In this webinar you can learn about the 4 different types of fascia: · Superficial · Intermuscular · Visceral · Deep You will also learn how fascia is innervated, making it a sensory organ, often said to hold emotions and feelings. I often talk to clients about how fascia needs to slide and glide and how it requires hydration (not only with water but also good nutrition) and also how pressure points (such as ill-fitting tack) can cause dehydrated fascia. I’l also explain how fascia has a ‘memory’ and can return to shape once it has been stretched and how it has a high proportion of proprioceptors assisting in our horse’s awareness of where their body is in space. This is all explained in this webinar.


gillian higgins horses inside out fascial sheets in the horse, aponeurotic fascia, cervical fascia, antebrachial fascia, thoracolumbar fascia, fascia lata, abdominal fascia, femoral fascia in your horse,  Equine fascia with a high proportion of proprioceptors

So, if you would like to learn more about the muscles and fascia in your horse, what they are, what they do, why they are important and, also why what I do as a therapist is important for your horse, whatever their job or discipline, I urge you to take a couple of hours to watch this fabulous webinar and find out more!

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