Reconditioning After Lay-Up

A small-animal orthopedic veterinarian once told me, The athlete that heals slowly heals best. In other words, although some physical therapy might be recommended as the body heals, the body’s soft and hard tissues need to recover wholly from”P>A small-animal orthopedic veterinarian once told me, The athlete that heals slowly heals best. In other words, although some physical therapy might be recommended as the body heals, the “>A small-animal orthopedic veterinarian once told me, The athlete that heals slowly heals best. In other words, although some physic”A small-animal orthopedic veterinarian once told me, The athlete that heals sl” small-animal orthopedic

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A small-animal orthopedic veterinarian once told me, “The athlete that heals slowly heals best.” In other words, although some physical therapy might be recommended as the body heals, the body’s soft and hard tissues need to recover wholly from the damage they suffered before undergoing the extra stress of training and the physical demands of building up, bulking up, or speeding up. Asking too much of an out-of-condition body on the mend risks delayed recovery, possible setbacks, and sometimes permanent damage.


While that wisdom applies to the canine, equine, and human athlete undergoing rehabilitation, it’s also relevant to the body that’s completed its recovery or rehabilitation and now, after a period of being laid-up, is headed back into a reconditioning program.


Explains Nat White, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor of Surgery, Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, “We humans know that if, for example, we were exercising by running five miles a day, became injured, were laid off for two months, and then, after not running for two months, came back and tried to run five miles, we would be slower, we’d probably ache afterwards, and we’d be out of breath. The reason is our body has been de-conditioned. Basically, the body is not used to doing that exercise anymore, so all of these structures that we used to exercise underwent changes and adapted to the lesser stress, lesser speed, and lesser endurance.


“In the same light with the horse that doesn’t do anything or is laid-up, its muscles, tendons, joints, and heart all get out of shape

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Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She’s schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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