If you’ve been to a horse show recently, I can almost guarantee that you have at least heard of, if not tried, PEMF therapy. This type of therapy has been around for quite a while, but it has only just gained popularity in the horse world. After hearing about PEMF from a lot of the prominent show barns in the area, I decided to give it a shot just to see what all of the excitement is about.
Before I go any further into this post, I do want to make a disclaimer of sorts that I am currently preparing to do undergraduate research on the effect of PEMF therapy on performance horses. Therefore, this post is going to serve as a sort of pre-research survey on my particular experience with PEMF after trying it on my personal horse. After my research has been completed, I am planning on writing a follow-up post compiled with all of the data collected from the study (and hopefully published paper) to help you make a decision on whether or not PEMF is the right therapy for you and your horse. I hope to be able to answer the golden question: does PEMF therapy actually work?
What Is PEMF Exactly?
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves pulsing electromagnetic fields from the coils connected to the machine into the tissue to promote healing. I won’t bore you to death by going into depth about the science of it all in this post, but the basis behind this type of therapy is this: the electromagnetic fields promote healing through the restoration of proper cellular energy. PEMF is claimed to:
- boost cellular metabolism
- promote faster healing and reduce recovery time
- relieve soreness
- relax muscles
- improve speed and strength
- improve overall comfort and wellbeing
All of these claims are great, but what I find most interesting is that PEMF therapy has been widely used in both animals and humans for the specific clinical indications including bone healing, healing of chronic wounds, general pain, osteoarthritis, and inflammation.
If you are interested in learning more about PEMF therapy, you can click here.
Why Did I Choose PEMF?
I am a huge believer in the wonders of chiropractic work for performance horses. I can, without a doubt, say that it works. Other than that, I haven’t ventured out into the world of alternative therapies. What can I say? I am a little stuck in my old ways when it comes to that.
The claimed benefits of PEMF caught my eye. Diesel has been having some SI soreness and stifle catching recently, which I am attributing to an increase in workload. I thought PEMF could be the key to resolving these issues as it is claimed to decrease body soreness and speed up recovery after strenuous exercise. What’s even better is that it is a little cheaper than chiropractic so it would allow me to use it more often in between chiropractic sessions to keep his soreness in check.
I can say without a doubt that Diesel definitely enjoyed the process. He licked and chewed the entire time it was being done and even started to doze off towards the end. There was never a point during the treatment where he seemed uncomfortable or ouchy. He seemed downright pleased with the whole experience.
After the treatment, I did feel that Diesel was much looser throughout his body and was definitely more relaxed than before treatment. He felt more willing to stretch down and through his body when ridden the day after. However, I don’t think that it necessarily helped with the stifle catching. I actually found that his stifle seemed to catch a little more the day after. I am guessing that the treatment could have possibly relaxed and loosened the muscle surrounding the stifle causing it to “slip” a little more than normal. I don’t think that it actually made the problem worse per se – just exposed how weak his stifles actually are. That is definitely a work in progress (say hello more cavaletti work and transitions)!
I will say that my trainer’s jumper got treatment as well, but she didn’t seem to notice any difference before and after treatment. However, he does not particularly show any difference before and after chiropractic treatment as well. Take that as you will.
Overall, I feel that it is hard to say without a doubt whether PEMF will benefit your particular horse or not. It definitely seems to be dependent on the individual as to how much they can benefit from it. I am interested to see what the results of my study show. After all, numbers don’t lie!
If you aren’t already, follow my blog to see the follow-up post and let me know down in the comments if you have ever tried PEMF!