Preventing a Psoas injury – training spread jumps
Do you practice doubles, triples and spread jumps regularly???
Often when I am teaching a workshop, I ask agility competitors – “How often do you practice doubles, triples or spread jumps”? I have to say many of them answer “only at a competition”. Sigh
Many instructors don’t set these jumps up due to time constraints. My advice, show up early and lend a hand. This could be the few minutes every week that will save your dog from injury. When you undertrain these jumps, a dog will often fling themselves over as a last ditch effort to clear the jump or will crash through it not realizing the need for extension. This is when injury can happen.
Question: What does it take for a dog to go over a double, a triple or a spread jump?
Answer: EXTENSION, which stresses the lower back and hip flexor muscles (Iliopsoas)
Doubles, triples and spread jumps are commonly the culprit for Iliopsoas muscle strains or tears when the dog has NOT been exposed to this type of extension work on a regular basis. This injury can be a three to six month recovery and some dogs have intermittent lameness or performance issues for months, even years after the handler thought their dog had recovered. Many competitors put their dog back in competition too soon and then the dog re-injures the muscles before they have had time to fully repair.
Depending on the dog’s structure and jump style the dog will learn to take these jumps with nice extension but they do need practice. When a dog “over-extends” (rear comes up higher than lower back) the hip flexor muscles (Psoas) become over stretched causing injury. This can be painful for the dog. These types of soft tissue injuries are hard to diagnose and take a long time to heal.
Injury of the Iliopsoas muscle will typically present with offloading of a hind limb or an intermittent limp that is exacerbated by exercise or performance activities. Other less significant signs may be knocked bars in agility or a slowing in the weave poles.
Finding a Veterinarian that has experience diagnosing soft tissue injuries is key. X-rays will not show soft tissue injury and you need a Vet that knows how to palpitate the dog correctly to diagnose without spending the dollars on an MRI. There are some great treatments available such as cold laser for pain management and shock wave therapy which also reduces pain and stimulates healing.
I hope this helps you understand the need to train double, triples and spread jumps regularly.
Here are some photos of exercises you might do to strengthen the Psoas muscles. If you are interested in guidance, please see my classes listed below or email me.
Bobbie Lyons, Cert CF
My Performance Puppy and K9 Conditioning class will give you the foundation you need to build a conditioning program designed specific to you and your dog's needs. Self guided rehab classes also available: The Enigma of the Iliopsoas (Hip flexor injury) and Balance Your Blades (shoulder injury) Sign up today!