For this installment of Weekend Wellness, we take a look at According to “Gospel” Equine Light Therapy.
It’s no secret that massage therapy is beneficial for both horses and humans alike. Regular massage treatments can help to manage and reduce pain, increase blood flow to tissue, relax muscles and alleviate tension and decrease inflammation. However, there are times that, as a certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT), I realize that more than just my hands are necessary.
Some horses don’t tolerate massage well, others are still more reactive than I would like to see once I am done with the massage and certain instances don’t call for massage. For cases like these, I’ve sought out different products either to complement massage or to use entirely separate from massage. One of my favorite equine therapy products is the According “Gospel” Equine Light Therapy pad.
What Is a Light Therapy Pad?
The According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pads are flexible pads that come in four sizes and are designed to treat a horse (or dog ) all over its body. They are made up of a combination of visible red light and near infrared light modules in order to help the body heal itself. The unique — and convenient — aspect of these therapy pads is that they flex top-to-bottom and side-to-side, making them easy to wrap around the leg or lay it flat on the shoulder, neck, back or poll.
How Does the Light Therapy Pad Work?
The According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad utilizes LED lights at specific wavelengths in order to, according to the website, “help the body heal itself.” The idea behind the technology is that wavelengths of light are absorbed by a photo acceptor, cytochrome c oxidase within the mitochondria of the cell. The energy (photons) from the lights increases the energy within the cell and that speeds up the healing process.
The lights must be specific wavelengths and must be delivered at a specific dosage. The According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad uses two wavelengths — a visible red wavelength and a near infrared wavelength. Using these two different wavelengths is beneficial because they are absorbed by different depths of tissue and the combination of the two, per the website, “work in concert to provide benefits for soft tissue injuries, inflammation, ligament soreness, tendon problems, sore backs, splints, strains, stifle issues, sprains, swelling, shoulder pain, hip pain, sore backs, sore necks, salivary gland problems, wounds, cuts, scrapes, arthritis pain and for trigger points and acupuncture points.”
Visible red light (660nm) is absorbed by skin layers very efficiently and is best for uses such as stimulating trigger and acupuncture points and for treating wounds and infections. Near infrared light (880nm) penetrates to a deeper level has been used to treat concerns of tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and muscle.
My Thoughts on the Light Therapy Pad:
Since I purchased my first According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad, I purchased a second one so that I can treat larger portions of horses’ bodies at one time. Suffice to say, I am pleased with it. But here is a more specific breakdown of my thoughts.
- It’s easy to use. The pad is easy to use and only has a few parts: the pad itself, the power supply, a 10-foot cord and two velcro straps. As a result, getting it up and running — even the first time — is painless. The flexibility of the pad makes it easy to apply to a variety of parts of a horse’s or dog’s body and the velcro straps help keep it in place. Further, because the pads work on a 15-minute cycle, you don’t have to worry about timing the treatment.
- It has built in safety features. One major concern about anything that has to be plugged in and horses is that a mis-step or a sudden movement can end a treatment session, ruin equipment or cause injury to horses, people or property. The According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad has multiple quick release points along the power cord that will separate if a horse moves too quickly and prevent anyone — human or equine — from getting tangled up in the cords.
- It’s non-invasive. The benefit of LEDs from a consumer standpoint is that they do not deliver enough power to damage the tissue, but they do deliver enough energy to stimulate a response from the body to heal itself. LEDs provide a much gentler delivery of the same healing wavelengths of light as lasers do but without the concern of tissue damage.
- It provides pain relief. This is the most important thing about the According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad — it works. As an ESMT, I have finished massages and noticed that horses that are back sore show definite improvement, but sometimes they are still more reactive than I would like. I’ve used the Light Therapy pad on these same horses and have seen marked improvement. Although doing so is not approved by the FDA and you should not do this, I have also used the pad on myself. As an equestrian, I have myriad joint and soft tissue injuries (don’t we all?). Using the pad provides relief for me, so I am fairly confident it does for my clients’ horses as well.
Back palpation of a client’s horse after massage but before Light Therapy treatment:
Palpation of the same horse after Light Therapy treatment. Even though she is still reactive, the severity is decreased:
- It has an accessible price point. As with anything related to horses, things are expensive. However, compared to other red light and laser therapy devices, the Light Therapy pad is reasonable, with the medium pad coming in at $424.
- The downsides. Frankly, I have not seen many downsides to the According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad. I have found it easy to use and most horses with which I have worked have enjoyed their treatments. However, I can see particularly impatient horses having issues. Each cycle lasts 15 minutes, so for horses that do not stand in one place well, this may be a stretch (especially when wanting to treat using more than one cycle). Also, for horses that are experiencing pain in their stifles, hamstrings or groin, there is no readily apparent and safe way to secure the pad, so it’s necessary to stand and hold the pad. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it can be a minor inconvenience.
My overall impressions of the According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad is that it is well worth the investment. Also, it’s named after a horse, which always makes me happy. The founders named the pad for their horse, Gospel Hour, who developed a severe case of laminitis after a surgery to repair an old injury in 1999. They were looking for a way to help Gospel, not begin a business, but as word spread, people started asking them to help their animal friends and Gospel’s light pads became a business.
If you’re interested in purchasing the According to “Gospel” Light Therapy pad, you can visit their website. Be well, Horse Nation. And go riding!
Remember, no body work service or product can replace proper veterinary care or diagnose or treat a disease.