What is the Lenton Method™?

What is the Lenton Method™?

As part of the world’s first canine massage therapy clinical trials, Winchester University and Sparsholt University Centre are researching the Lenton Method, a unique approach for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain management in dog which is taught only to graduates of the Clinical Canine Massage Practitioner Programme and practised by Canine Massage Guild therapists.  Thousands of dogs benefit each year from the Lenton Method, but what exactly is it?

Read on to find out more….

Introduction to Clinical Canine Massage from The Canine Massage Guild

The rise in popularity and availability of canine massage therapists in the UK is at an all-time high, with dog owners and canine professionals proactively seeking out therapists from the Canine Massage Guild, whose name has become synonymous with an ethical and affordable service which achieves unrivalled results for dogs. Clinical Canine Massage Therapy is sought by dog owners for many reasons… they may be showing signs of chronic pain, living with mobility issues or arthritis, being rehabilitated from soft tissue injury or have anxiety issues. Alternatively, they are agility or sporting dogs whose owners want to keep them in tip top muscular condition.

Guild therapists will often be heard to say they use ‘The Lenton Method’, but what is it?  How does it work?  Why is it different from just plain old ‘dog massage’ and could it be just the therapy to help turn your dog’s life around?

What is the Lenton Method™?

The Lenton Method is a pioneering, results-driven approach for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain management in dogs. It is taught exclusively to therapists who have undertaken the 2 year, Clinical Canine Massage Practitioner Programme with the Canine Massage Therapy Centre Ltd (CMTC), which is externally accredited with LANTRA.

The Lenton Method™ was developed by Natalie Lenton, Director of the CMTC and founder of the Canine Massage Guild, and is now used by over 120 Guild therapists across the UK, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Malaysia to help thousands of dogs. The Method has a strong track record of success anecdotally, and is now being researched in the world’s first double-blind clinical trials on canine massage therapy with Winchester University and University Centre Sparsholt.

What Constitutes The Lenton Method?

The Lenton Method is a 3-tiered approach for the in-depth assessment and treatment of dogs with muscular and myofascial issues as well as for chronic pain management for arthritis, hip dysplasia and other orthopaedic conditions. It is also used to maintain muscular integrity in sporting dogs.  The 3 tiers of the method are:

  • Advanced Palpation and Evaluation
  • BodyMapping
  • The 7 Protocols
  • Advanced Palpation and Evaluation

The Guild therapist learns and utilises a systematic and scientific method of advanced palpation skills to isolate and evaluate over 50 pairs of muscles and areas of fascia for initial assessment, and that’s just for starters. The palpation routine is a procedure and repeatable from therapist to therapist so dog owners can be guaranteed of a thorough and consistent assessment each and every time they use a Guild therapist.

The art of palpation can be likened to braille, but rather than reading and translating words and numbers, the therapist is reading and translating muscular and myofascial injuries or issues that may be the cause of presenting issues as outlined in the 5 Principles of Pain; a methodology which helps owners to identify sub clinical and subtle signs of pain that respond well to massage. This specialised palpation employs a variety of techniques including myofascial grip modulation, support and force control necessary to make the palpation comfortable for the dog.

Known as the practice of informed touch or the art of seeing with your fingertips, palpation takes the therapist a year’s hard practice to initially learn and then master the Lenton Method’s structured, in-depth approach of evaluating and assessing the subtleties and nuances of the individual muscles, deep and superficial fascia. Canine Massage Guild members offer free muscular health checks for dogs at shows, so when you watch a muscular health check by a Guild member you are watching the first part of the method and the enviable skill of being able to truly read your dog’s musculature.

  • Body Mapping

Body mapping is the second part of the method – a very specific and comprehensive anatomical site map of muscular injuries and myofascial problems used in the Lenton Method in conjunction with the advanced palpation procedure.   Strains, trigger points, fascial adhesions, hyper/hypotonicity, hypertrophy, atrophy,  superficial and deep fascial dysfunction – which don’t show on X-rays or scans – are just some of the issues that will be assessed using this methodology.  This skill alone requires that therapists are trained to memorise this extensive map, and using their palpation skills from the first part of the method, identify the issues mentioned above.

The map has been honed to fine detail to enable therapists to identify problems that may be causing or contributing to compromised mobility.  As mentioned, as muscular and myofascial issues won’t be detected on X-rays or scans, it’s vitally important that the therapist knows how to assess and evaluate the tissue correctly.  Practice and development of this skill throughout their careers is why Guild members’ competency in palpation is second to none.

Of course, therapists also learn a standard anatomical features palpation map to distinguish fine details such as capillaries, veins, arteries and nerves that can be differentiated from abnormalities in the muscle and fascia.

  • The 7 Protocols

The 7 Protocols are a unique set of complex direct myofascial release techniques which loosen and free up large sheaths of fascia and intermuscular septum to improve range of movement to skeletal joints and reduce chronic pain without actual direct skeletal manipulation. The 7 Protocols of the Lenton Method™ are especially successful for ageing or senior dogs, those with a history of chronic pain, and agility, sporting and active younger dogs.  They are especially relevant for dogs with arthritis or other orthopaedic conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia, spondylosis, luxating patella and for both prehab and rehab after surgery such as TPLO or other cruciate ligament surgeries.

Significant improvement in range of movement, comfort levels, pain reduction, mobility, posture, activities of daily living, performance and behaviour are often seen, all in just three initial sessions of clinical canine massage therapy. The Protocols are profound and life-changing for many dogs who receive the therapy.

Prior to the Lenton Method’s application, Guild therapists prepare the dog’s muscles and fascia by using a selection of other techniques from the four disciplines of Swedish massage, sports massage, deep tissue and indirect myofascial release massage. The therapist will assess each dog as an individual and select from a further 60 techniques from their skills toolbox to treat the patient.

The 3 Series – Why The Lenton Method is Applied Three Times over Three Weeks

Some dog owners may just opt for one session of massage to see if the treatment suits their dog.  It’s a good way to give it a try, find out more, and see how your dog responds to the treatment.  However, when seeking to improve an existing condition, address chronic pain and mobility issues, provide relief for arthritic joints, spondylosis or other bone-related issues, or rehabilitate a soft tissue injury, it’s important to be realistic about your dog’s treatment.  Some myofascial and muscular injuries or issues may have been held in the body, for not just weeks but years, and it can be unrealistic to think that one session of massage can erase months or years of overcompensation and pain. Also, not every problem can be palpated and treated immediately with just one session. The initial course of three sessions is recommended so that your dog can get used to treatment and also so that the therapist can work through possibly many layers of injury.

Over the course of one session a week for three weeks, the muscles and fascia do something we refer to as ‘letting down’ or ‘tissue yield’. This means the tissue progressively changes and relaxes over the course of treatments, enabling the therapist to essentially ‘unpeel the layers of an onion’ to finely detect and treat the underlying cause of malfunction.

For example, if a muscle is hypertonic it will require a session or two to restore normal resting tone. When normal tone is restored and the tissue becomes supple rather than hard and resistant, the therapist may then be able to detect trigger points. When those have been released, underneath there may be scar tissue from the strain hidden away which is often the cause of intermittent lameness and long-term chronic pain which doesn’t show on X-rays or scans.

Ethical practice and peace of mind for the owner and vet

The series of three sessions over three weeks is an important part not just of the Lenton Method but also of Guild members’ code of ethics and conduct.  No owner will be asked to return, week in, week out, month. The sessions are spaced to allow the body time to respond and assimilate change.

Contrary to popular belief a dog does not have to lie down and be still for an entire massage.  Often a therapist may help to introduce massage techniques and touch to a dog in a position the dog is comfortable in, such as a sit. Patience when treating dogs with this therapy is key and helping to dogs settle by giving them the choice of sitting or lying, couch or floor, is an equally important skill our therapists learn to assess over the course of their extensive training. A Guild therapist will often be heard to say “we work with the dog, not on the dog”, and through this they listen and respond to areas that the dog presents, and shies away from, equally.

After the initial three sessions, maintenance treatments are discussed with the owner or the owner may choose to use the therapy for their dog whenever they see fit.  The Canine Massage Guild therapists’ ethos is always ‘your choice and your dog’s choice are paramount to our therapy’.

The Lenton Method™ and Clinical Canine Massage Therapy in the Veterinary World

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association Manual of Canine and Feline Rehabilitation supportive and palliative care states, “Muscle pain is not well recognised in veterinary medicine and often not in human medicine.” (Lindley & Watson 2010). Indeed, muscular and myofascial pain and the application of massage to effect positive change in the 5 Principles of Pain is a field that deserves recognition as a specialist area in itself.

Muscular and myofascial injury doesn’t show up on x-rays or scans

It’s important for owners to know that muscular injuries and myofascial pain don’t show up on X-rays or scans.  The art of muscular and myofascial assessment is a true skill that takes years of dedication to develop. Canine Massage Guild members work with your vet in a specialist paraprofessional role to assess issues which may be causing or exacerbating pain within the muscular system and extra cellular matrix (ECM) commonly referred to as fascia.

Some owners may wonder why their vet hasn’t found the cause.   This is unfair. The fact is that we are all good for something not one of us for everything. Vets are highly qualified in their field and have very technologically advanced diagnostics in this high-pressured profession to help them. Muscular and myofascial pain, however, is difficult to assess for and even harder to pinpoint. A vet may have 15 minutes in consultation with your dog standing up for examination. The Guild therapist is able to spend an hour per session with hands on your dog enabling a thorough examination and assessment of the complex muscular and myofascial systems as well as taking into account tissue yield as discussed earlier. Guild members work with your vet and never treat without veterinary consent, in compliance with the Veterinary Act 1966 and Exemptions Order 2015 and also provide your vet with a written report to ensure continuity of care.

 The takeaway

Canine Massage Guild therapists use the Lenton Method, a 3 tiered approach to the treatment of myofascial and muscular injuries and issues, as well as for the management of chronic pain associated with orthopaedic issues such as arthritis. The Method frequently obtains results in 1-3 sessions with positive changes the owner can see and the dog can feel.

Guild members work with your vet by gaining their consent to treat and provide a report for continuity of client care, they adhere to a strong code of ethics and conduct and are dedicated to providing your dog with the caring, results driven treatment they deserve.

Click here to discern if your dog is showing signs of muscular of myofascial pain as a standalone issue or due to overcompensation from an orthopaedic issue like arthritis with the 5 Principles of Pain

Click here to find your dog’s local therapist using our official canine massage therapist register