Do bandages really prevent overstretch tears such as ligament sprains and tendon bows? They do provide minor protection from interference injuries and other blunt force trauma or abrasions however they are not there for support as many people think they are. You may use the argument that ‘my horse has worn bandages all his life and he is fine’ however some horses are more predisposed to the injuries than others.
What they can do is provide irreparable harm to nerves and other tissues when they are unevenly or too tightly wrapped, and can cause accidents if they are too loose. When the core temperature in a tendon reaches a certain level, the tissue begins to degenerate and therefore means that the tissue cells begin to die.If this happens the tendon is weakened, and therefore are more vulnerable to further injury such as major tears. It also allows the fibres to stretch beyond their normal range until it finally snaps. This is the direct result of wearing wraps or boots during exercise and is regardless of the overall body temperature.
Research has shown that actual support of tendons and ligaments from wraps and bandages is virtually insignificant, so the main reason for using them is for protection from over-reach and interferance injuries, bumping jumps, fetlock burns and the like.
Could ventilated boots therefore be the answer?
The horses legs are covered by very tough, unflexible skin and have unbelievably strong lateral support ligaments so ‘going over’ on their ‘ankle’ doesn’t happen. Forces on the tendon from back to front or up and down cannot be helped at all by bandages/boots. There is nothing which can be put on their legs that can seperate the digital flexor tendons and prevent strain unless you banadge/boot up so tight it restricts the fetlock movement which is not highly advised.
All bandages and boots should be left off as much as possible. If tendons overheat they can undergo tissue death if the critical heat threshold is exceeded and that can lead to months of box rest and rehabilitation.
The only way to prevent overstretch injuries is by adhering to a program of conditioning and skill exercised in order to strengthen the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It is a mistake to think that boots or wraps will prevent these injuries, because they won’t.
Please provide me with your comments on this blog and your opinions on tendon boots/bandages.