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Massage For Young Children And Active Youth

Massage for Young Children and Active Youth

Massage therapy can benefit anyone from infants to the elderly. The general benefits of massage, which are relaxation, decreasing muscle tension and pain, or increasing mobility, can apply to any age group. However, there are specific reasons why massage therapy is beneficial for children specifically.

These days our children are adapting to hectic lifestyles with stressors of school, peer pressure, family problems, advancing technology, competitive sports, chores … to list a few. Children are constantly overworking themselves to keep up and maintain the pace of their lives. They seldom get a chance to slow down and let their bodies really rest or relax, which can lead to poor sleeping patterns. Studies have shown that massage can help decrease stress and stress hormone levels in children and adults. Studies have also shown that children’s massage can reduce anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Decreasing stress, in turn, can help improve sleeping habits.

When they do manage to slow down or stop, it is usually in front of some type of tablet or electronic device which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to issues like “tech-neck” from constantly looking down at a device (More on tech-neck coming soon). This creates strain on their neck and spine, which can result in long term pain, headaches, and poor posture or a hunched back. Massage therapy can help relax those strained muscles. In addition to massage, educating children in correct posture when using a device, as well as postural stretches, can greatly help with preventing long-term issues.

Athletic children who play multiple sports or are at a competitive level often incur various injuries, muscle strains and pains. Massage therapy can help to ease muscle aches and specific pains caused by injury or overuse. It can also help to increase circulation, flexibility and function of muscles and joints.

Childhood disabilities, disorders and structural or developmental issues are becoming more prevalent and require more attention, as well as more in-depth strategies. There have been many studies done to show the effects of massage therapy on children, some of the beneficial results include:

  • Autistic children have shown increased relaxation during activities after receiving regular massage, more so than those who received other methods of relaxation.  There was a decrease in touch sensitivity and disruptive behaviour, and an increase in sleep and energy levels.
  • The effects of ADD and ADHD in children could be reduced with regular massage treatments, thereby exhibiting less hyperactivity and more on-task behaviour.  In some cases, regular massage has even cut down on the amount of regular prescription medication needed.
  • Teenage psychiatric patients experienced improved sleep and clinical progress as well as decreased depression, anxiety and stress.
  • Children with cerebral palsy had greater extension in previously flexed muscles with massage.
  • Preschoolers showed better performance on tests of intellectual and manual skills after a 15 min massage.  They also slept better during naps, were less likely to be overactive and had better behavior.
  • Massage was shown to help children with dermatitis and other skin conditions.
  • Massage was noted to relieve pain in children with early onset scoliosis.
  • Regular massage helped to reduce and relieve childhood and adolescent growing pains.

The only reasons that may restrict massage options for children would be if they have a fever, acute infection or staph infection, swelling, open sores, or active diabetes.  Otherwise it is up to the child as to whether they feel comfortable to have a massage.

In most cases, younger children tend to have a shorter attention span, making a 30-minute session would be more than appropriate, as it is adequate time to receive an effective treatment. Moreover, as children approach middle teenage years, 30 or 45-minute sessions could be appropriate depending on the extent of what is needed for their individual treatment plan.

Parents are always encouraged to be present in the room with children, and for teenagers it is up to their discretion. It is the massage therapist’s obligation to ensure that they ask the child if they want a massage, what they would like worked on and to follow the child’s wishes. In addition, the therapist should explain the treatment plan in such a way that the child can clearly understand to ensure that they feel comfortable and consent to the treatment.

If you have been wondering if your child would benefit from a massage therapy treatment please come in or call True Balance Rehab to ask questions or book an appointment and give it a try. It just might be the type of therapeutic treatment that your child needs.


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