Child Massage by Jessica Schiewe, RMT
Over the years, and as we get older, our priorities and stressors change. We tend to forget what it’s like being a kid. We worry about mortgages, groceries and transportation. Stresses we had as children and teenagers seem so insignificant in comparison. We forget (maybe on purpose!) that the pressures from – school, other kids, our embarrassing body changes, sports – are just as real and important. Big changes, which happen all the time in their lives, can affect their bodies’ behaviours and function. Massage can decrease stress by relaxing their bodies in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. It provides support and compassionate touch that reduces the frustration, isolation and anxiety that are a very real part of growing up.
The obvious benefits of getting your child massaged include relaxation, lower anxiety levels and increased clarity. Plus there are a number of lesser known benefits. For example, massage increases circulation. This improves immune function and promotes healing so when a child falls and scrapes their knee, good circulation brings nutritional and metabolic factors to heal the wound faster and decreases the chances of scarring.
Generalized therapeutic approach seems to have a normalizing effect on the body’s energetic processes. Sleep, mood and a balanced energy level can help increase attentiveness and learning, which has positive implications for those with attention deficit disorder, hyperactivities or learning disabilities. Massage helps to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and supports effective breathing and digestion. It can improve grip strength, functional activities, positive mood, self-esteem and body image. Therapeutic massage plays an important role in prevention programs by providing a natural mechanism for stimulating the body to adjust to the stress of daily life and restore natural homeostatic balance.
Reasons to treat: ADD/ADHD
MVA-motor vehicle accident
During childhood, bones throughout the body grow in thickness and length. The site of lengthwise growth is the epiphyseal plate in long bones (femur, tibia, humerus, etc.). This site ossifies (hardens) by the ages of 18 to 25 years.
From age 3 to puberty the physical growth is mostly in height. Height accelerates under the influence of increased hormone levels. Both physical and emotional pains are common. Growing with muscle dysfunctions like bowleg or knock-knee can be addressed before the bones become rigid and create future problems like osteoarthritis in the knee joints or hip dysfunctions.
Long bones grow more rapidly than the muscle tissue, resulting in a pull on the periosteum (the protective bone covering that is a very pain-sensitive structure). This causes growing pains. Massage can help by gently lengthening the muscles, stretching the connective tissue and providing symptomatic relief of pain.
Circulation is important to carry the nutrition in the blood that’s essential for bone growth, body repairs and overall health of all body tissues. Throughout childhood, the control of skeletal muscle by the nervous system becomes more and more precise. By mid-adolescence, we have reached the peak level of development of this natural control and can simply accept it or bring it to a fine edge with athletic training.
Mechanical stress on bone results from the pull of skeletal muscle and the pull of gravity. Muscles that do not regenerate properly can create fibrosis (scarring). Skeletal muscle activity maintains bone health and strength because of the rich blood supply.
Muscles, like bones, will atrophy if they are not used continually, so a lifelong program of exercise keeps the body operating at its peak potential. Adolescents should engage in regular weight-bearing activity prior to the closure of the epiphyseal plates (within the individual bones) to help build total mass before their inevitable reduction with aging.
Bringing children in for periodic massages gives the parent an opportunity to promote a healthy and balanced life. Considering attention spans and smaller bodies, 30 minute appointments are recommended for children under the age of 12. Massage is a great way teach good touch (vs. bad touch) and allows him or her to be confident in making their own decisions about their boundaries. Kids are given options for different ways that the massage can be performed. This allows them to trust their choices about what they are comfortable with and teaches body awareness.
Massage enhances and improves the physical health of your child by positively affecting the nervous, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems. It also contributes to the mental health of your child by helping to alleviate some of the stresses associated with childhood and adolescence that we all too often forget.
During my past 2 ½ years experience, I have had a fantastic opportunity to work with a variety of ages ranging from 2-17 years of age. I use a variety of techniques from therapeutic massage to myofascial release and craniosacral therapy, to establish a balance in the body.