What is Manual Ligament Therapy (MLT)?

by K. Garland

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Manual Ligament Therapy or MLT is a new therapeutic modality that has been adapted for use in animals. Lola Michelin, director of the Northwest School of Animal Massage in Washington State, was in the Fraser Valley recently to instruct a massage training practical and offered to demonstrate MLT at the Dip N Run Stables in Aldergrove, BC.

Manual Ligament Therapy is an osteopathic technique that was originally designed by Arik Gohl for use with people. It is based on the work of Dr. Hugh Logan (Logan Basic Technique) in collaboration with other chiropractors and osteopaths. Manual Ligament Therapy utilizes the sensory attributes of ligaments to alleviate tightness (or hypertonicity) in muscles and rebalance the joints. Research has revealed that some types of muscle pain (acute or chronic) can be traced back to the ligaments. With MLT, gentle pressure is placed on the ligament to relax the muscle and correct muscular dysfunction.

Lola Michelin provided a demonstration of this technique on both a horse and a dog. She noted that MLT can provide relief for joint issues in horses who cannot tolerate chiropractic treatments.

Lola demos MLT on Flirt the horse.

More Manual Ligament Therapy on Flirt’s hind area.

“It’s designed to resolve not only hypertonicity in muscles that leads to pain and dysfunction, but it also assists the proprioceptive learning in animals…in other words, muscle memory or muscle patterning. So, if an animal is having some difficulty in movement or difficulty in their activities due to a past injury or insult, MLT can help to retrain or address that learning pattern in a more functional way,” says Lola Michelin.

Lola uses MLT to address joint pain in Hudson’s right shoulder.

Lola also works on Hudson’s opposite foreleg for balance.

Manual Ligament Therapy can be useful for geriatric dogs who suffer chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions. MLT can address an abnormal gait, a stiff neck/shoulder, or hip pain. Dogs who are learning new activities or who participate in agility can also benefit from this therapy.

Lola adds, “It’s a very effective technique. It takes very little time to get quite dramatic results for the animal. And it’s a completely pain-free modality, so the animals enjoy receiving the therapy.”

For further information, the Northwest School of Animal Massage has adapted this modality for animals and is offering the first of five modules to teach Manual Ligament Therapy for both dogs and horses.

(Photo Credit: K. Garland)