One Is Never Too Young To Start Massage Therapy

Yes, it’s true. Massage therapy has shown to be beneficial for people of any age, albeit the application of techniques are modified depending on the client’s age and condition.

Newborns/infants can benefit from massage therapy by way of relaxation, stimulation, relief and interaction.  During infancy, a child is taking in an abundance of information from his/her surroundings.  That infant can learn to relax when placed in a relaxed environment, and just as easily experience negative feedback in a stressful environment.  Some massage techniques can be applied to provide relief from colic, or easing the discomfort associated with gas or spasms.  A child suffering from cerebral palsy may find both stimulating and relaxing treatments beneficial, using treatment techniques that either stimulate muscle response or relax others.  The interactive aspect of treatments foster the ability to build relationships, teaching the infant about forming bonds with other individuals.

The ability for children to experience the benefits of massage does not end in infancy.  Recently I have treated a variety of children, some as young as 9 years old.  Underlying issues have included anxiety-based tension, while others involved functional issues related to the chosen sport of a highly athletic child (gymnastics, ice hockey, soccer, etc.).  Their response to treatment has been more than positive.  Not long ago, an 11-year-old ice hockey player came to me complaining of an imbalance in his hips.  He felt there was a decreased range of motion in his dominant side, especially during a busy training and game schedule.  After one session his range of motion improved significantly.  In another case, built-up shoulder tension troubled a 10 year old with a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  Treatments appeared to aid him in reaching a increased level of relaxation, experiencing a “melting” feeling when trigger points are manipulated under point pressure.

These are just a few cases in my experience as a registered massage therapist.  However, I have found this positive trend to be a common observation amongst fellow peers and colleagues in the health care field.  One can speculate why this might be.  Maybe this trend is related to the amount of time available for chronic tension to set in. An adult working a particular career for years, performing the same repetitive task for hours each day, will be much more susceptible chronic tension due to overuse. On the other hand, a child’s activity level varies through the day so tension built from overuse or stress may be less likely to become chronic.  It is also possible that this trend may have some relation with high levels of adaptation as a child’s body grows during adolescence.  Once again, these are merely speculations on my part.  Further research would be required to confirm these theories.  However in my experience, children (and teens) are like conduits when it comes to receiving therapeutic treatment of any way, shape or form.

A couple of days ago, a study was brought to my attention.  This study evaluated the effect of myofascial trigger points (a.k.a. “Knots”) in children who experience tension-type headaches.  Although the study was performed on a small sample size was small (9 girls; mean age: 13.1years; range: 5-15 years) the results were significant.  After using trigger-point manipulation over a specified number of treatments during the course of the study, there was a reduction of headache frequency by 67.7%, intensity by 74.3%, and duration by 77.3%.

To access the study, click here.

So no matter if your child is highly active in sport (gymnastics, hockey, baseball, soccer, etc.), or going through emotionally stressful periods in his or her life, consider involving that child in some form of holistic or wellness regimen.  Doing so may set that child on a clearer and healthier path through life.

As a supplemental note, beginning July 1st, 2010 I will be introducing a child/student discount for massage therapy services at my clinic.  To receive more information about this, or any other aspect of my practice, please feel free contact me.

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