As a massage therapist, I have clients of all ages. Although most of my patients are adults, I have worked with many children over my 12 years of experience. Most people don’t think of a child as someone who needs a massage because they have, “youth on their side” and “always bounce back”. True, most kids can ride a bike all day long and not feel sore or tired the way an adult might after just 1 hour of biking. And, yes, most kids can “bounce back” quickly after injuries and surgeries. However, there are still many benefits that massage can offer to children of all ages.
Children are constantly on the go. Especially school aged children in sports or other extracurricular activities. We live in a fast paced society and that makes taking time for oneself that much more important. What an easy way to teach children that is ok to be still and relax. I have seen first hand how a massage can help a child that is hyperactive to just be calm and still, even if it is just for the time they are in their treatment.
Many people don’t think of or realize the amount of stress and anxiety children can have to not only be a good kid at home, but to do well in school and excel in sports or music or theater or any other number of extracurricular activities. Even something as simple as making new friends in a new school or starting a new grade level with a new teacher and curriculum can cause your child to have anxiety. I remember how much I stressed and planned over what outfit I would be wearing for the first day of school or for school pictures. Massage therapy reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, therefore reducing anxiety and stress and releases our bodies natural mood enhancer, dopamine.
Massage therapy also helps children (and people of all ages) to get better sleep. Massage helps improve our sleep by increasing serotonin levels and regulating melatonin secretion rhythms which, in turn, encourages deeper sleep. Getting a good night’s rest helps to reduce stress as well as allows us to have the energy needed to get through the day.
Some children struggle with being clumsy or ungainly in their movements as they grow and change due to a lack of body awareness. Massage helps your child to learn this skill of being aware of their bodies and its needs. Another great benefit of massage therapy for children is that it encourages their brain to body communication by stimulating our nervous system. Massage also helps promote the myelination of the brain and nervous system. The myelin sheath covers nerves to help enhance the communication between nerves. This results in improved motor skills AND cognitive development.
Giving your child the tools they need to manage stress and body awareness while they are young can keep them from being overwhelmed, stressed and over tired. We only have one body and it is important to learn how to take care of it at a young age so we can experience a lifetime of good habits and health.