Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover
From a physiotherapy perspective...
was thanks to baby Charlie arriving two weeks early that Bonny Quick was able to
go to Crufts at all this year. But it was her persistence and hard work that
enabled her win three of the five runs and the British Open Small
Championship with her dog Shelley. With so many of our top competitors being
pregnant and giving birth recently, physiotherapist Nicky Grant thought it might
be interesting to consider pregnancy and agility from a physiotherapy
perspective. This has been adapted from her blog on
I had the honour of being close to Bonny throughout her
pregnancy. I know it wasn't an easy ride for her. She had to focus on her
ambition to compete at Crufts as a motivator to keep fit.
Now this is not my area of specialism and I bow to other physios
who have far greater knowledge on this subject area, but I think I can run
through the basics for a start that may be useful for folk whether
pregnant now or thinking about it for the future.
in pregnancy There are some key physiological things that happen to a woman's body
when she is pregnant. Most obviously the tummy gets bigger and the centre of
gravity changes. This increases the lordosis or curve of the lumbar spine. The
increased curve will put more pressure on the joints of lower back and,
therefore, may be a cause of low back pain.
Another cause of musculo-skeletal pain is due to joints becoming
increasing lax due to hormonal changes. This can effect the joints around the
pelvis and can cause a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction. This
condition can be really painful and can limit activity.
a physiotherapist can help. They can prescribe you exercises and help you with
some pain relieving strategies. You might also want to consider a belt which can
give the pelvis some compression and support which can be really useful.
Other joints can become lax as well so care needs to be taken
during exercise to not put joints at risk or push them out of their normal
range. For example, running a course or training on uneven ground may put stress
on your ankles so considering the surface you train on and your footwear is
There are also haemodynamic changes that occur. The word
haemodynamic relates to blood flow around the body. The heart rate and blood
volume increase. Stroke volume - which means the amount of blood pumped out by
the left side of the heart during one contraction - goes up while cardiac output
- the amount of blood pumped around the body in one minute - also increases.
Essentially all these complicated words mean that the heart needs to work harder
to maintain both mum and baby. This is the reason that some static positions
such as some yoga positions and lying on your back for periods of time are not
encouraged as it may reduce blood pressure and reduce the amount of blood
returning to the heart (1).
Because there is a greater requirement on the body, the lungs
have to work much harder as well. Aerobic exercise, which is sustainable for a
period of time and utilises oxygen throughout, is generally thought to be safe
and encouraged to both maintain and improve fitness through pregnancy (3,4).
During anaerobic exercise when you get out of breath quickly,
your body is not using oxygen and lactate will form in your muscles. The lungs
may struggle to pay back the oxygen quickly enough so caution is suggested with
anaerobic exercise (2) This may mean that running flat out around a course may
be not be a good idea but utilising some distance handling or holding your
contacts for a few extra seconds may help you out. Other types of exercise can
include jogging, cycling, walking etc.
As a general rule exercising while pregnant is thought to benefit
most women who are going through an uncomplicated pregnancy (5). Obviously if
there are any medical complications, exercise advice should be given on an
individual basis for each woman and by a fully qualified health care
professional who specialises in obstetrics.
things to remember Pregnancy is totally different for everyone who goes through it so
listen to your body. Don't ignore any warning signs and look after your
nutrition, hydration, sleep and self-care.
When pregnant, it is important to do the following:-
Drink before and
after training or a competition to replenish lost fluid.
Take healthy and
nutritious snacks out with you and ensure you eat before and after your runs
Try not to compare
yourself to other people. We are all different and our bodies will all react
Pregnancy shouldn't stop your agility journey. It may take you on
a slightly different path but the most important thing is to keep having fun and
1. Clark SL, Cotton
DB, Pivarnik JM, Lee W, Hankins GD, Benedetti TJ, et al. Position change and
central hemodynamic profile during normal third-trimester pregnancy and post
partum [published erratum appears in Am J Obstet Gynecol 1991;165:241]. Am J
Obstet Gynecol 1991;164:883–7.
2. Artal R, Wiswell R,
Romem Y, Dorey F. Pulmonary responses to exercise in pregnancy. Am J Obstet
Gynecol 1986;154:378–83. [PubMed] ⇦
3. de Oliveria Melo
AS, Silva JL, Tavares JS, Barros VO, Leite DF, Amorim MM. Effect of a physical
exercise program during pregnancy on uteroplacental and fetal blood flow and
fetal growth: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 2012;120:302–10. [PubMed]
[Obstetrics & Gynecology] ⇦
4. Price BB, Amini SB,
Kappeler K. Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a
randomized trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012;44:2263–9. [PubMed] [Full Text] ⇦
the author... Nicky Grant
is a Chartered Physiotherapist & Veterinary Physiotherapist. She
qualified from the University of the West of England in 2009 with a 1st Class
Honors degree in Physiotherapy. Starting her career in the NHS at the Bristol
Royal Infirmary Teaching Hospital and Frenchay Hospital, she settled in Somerset
specialising in musculoskeletal physiotherapy at Musgrove Park Hospital in
Growing up in a family of vets she always knew she wanted to work
professionally with animals and in 2011 embarked on an MSc in Veterinary
Physiotherapy in conjunction with her NHS work, gaining a Masters in Veterinary
Physiotherapy with distinction.
Nicky now heads up a physiotherapy practice from Taunton in the
south west of England. The practice treats canine, human and equine patients in
a variety of locations. Nicky specialises in treating agility dogs and their
handlers and has a special interest in optimizing canine performance, in canine
sports injuries and rehabilitation.
In 2015, Nicky accompanied the 2015 IFCS Great Britain agility
team to the World Championships in Italy, offering comprehensive care to both
dogs and handlers. She is currently be part of the KC Team GB coaching team,
working as Team Physiotherapist (Special Projects) in preparation for the
European Open and FCI Agility World Championships.