The holistic benefits of massage are not confined to patients of any particular age. In fact, the ancient practice of massage has been shown to improve overall health in people at every stage of life, regardless of their background, age or occupation. The medical community is increasingly cognizant of the particular ways children may benefit from massage – how optimizing the body’s performance can help support crucial stages of growth and development. Children who are exposed to massage at an early age may develop an intrinsic appreciation for its capacity to both sooth and strengthen the body. As a growing number of Canadians succumb to stress (and stress related disease), it is more important than ever to reinforce healthy habits for a more balanced lifestyle – a practice best begun in childhood. Massage as a therapy is effective for children whether they be infants, preschoolers, teens or even young adults, and making massage therapy a routine in the child’s life can help it to grow into a balanced and mature adult.
Massage Therapy provides endless benefits for your child, some of which include:
Sports Performance and Injury Prevention
Hockey, soccer, football, dance, or gymnastics are just a few of the sports your child may be active in. Some children are not only involved in one, but multiple sports whether recreational or competitive. As a parent you might be wondering can a massage help my child enhance their sport performance and allow them to be less susceptible to an injury. Yes! Regular massage treatments will allow for an increased blood flow to children’s growing muscles resulting in less muscles tension, an increase in joint range of motion which can decrease overall stiffness, and cause a relaxation response. All of these benefits are sure to allow for muscles and joints to recover while decreasing post physical activity soreness and preparing your little athlete for the next sport event.
Relief from Stress and Anxiety
We often think of stress as an adult affliction; but the truth is that even very young children experience stress and anxiety. Children have their own exposure to stress, which can come from school, family, technology or even playtime with their peers – all are facts of life that most young people must learn to cope with as they progress toward maturity. This stress can cause imbalance in the immune system and hormonal imbalances as well. Massage therapy can act as a stress buster for children, even when they have passed the stage of infancy. Massage practiced regularly can help a child reduce stress, which can in turn may help a child to sleep better.
Tummy aches is a common complaint among young children – and quite often a source of worry for parents. Although gastroenteritis, over-eating, or a food intolerance are common offenders, constipation is the most likely culprit when it comes to abdominal pain in children. Rather than relying solely on laxatives or diet, many parents turn to massage therapy to sooth stomach ache due to digestive dysfunction. Gentle abdominal massage may alleviate colic in newborns and can be helpful in addressing other digestive issues that arise as children mature. Under the guidance of a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), parents can learn to administer the technique at home, perhaps avoiding an unnecessary trip to the ER or another missed day of school.
Body Language and self esteem
A massage therapy treatment encourages kids to communicate about what they are feeling. Many questions are asked through out their treatment such as: What is causing pain and describe? Too much or too little pressure? Are you uncomfortable? What feels good and what doesn’t feel good. This dialogue helps them develop their ability to say what they want and don’t want happening to their bodies and it helps build confidence in their ability to communicate about themselves. It is a great skill to develop early on in life.
What happens for a child’s first massage therapy treatment? Usually the child’s parent brings a book and sits in the treatment room with their child during the first appointment. At the second appointment, the parent most often sits in the waiting area and at some point when the child is comfortable, the parent drops the child off and returns after the appointment is over. However, any of these situations is fine at any point – the parent can sit in on every session or sit in the waiting area every time. It is up to the child and their consent is respected.
Children Ages 6 and 10 years seem most comfortable with a 30 minute appointment and older children to teens tend to prefer a 45-60 minute treatment, but each child is unique and has different needs and attentions spans.
Many of our RMT’s specialize with children massage if it be for stress, anxiety, developmental disabilities or sports performance we would be happy to help guide you and your child to the benefits of Massage Therapy.
The CE Team:)