Registered massage therapy as a treatment option for children
Prior to studying massage therapy and before having my own children, I studied early childhood education in the early 1990’s and spent many years working in various childcare settings. I spent those years attending to children with growing pains and associated discomforts, constipation, fevers, headaches, separation anxiety, fatigue and stuffed or drippy noses; an endless list. In each instance, I was led by my intuition (along with my first aid training) and used touch as a way to support the little ones in coping with their discomforts.
A registered massage therapist’s (RMT’s) scope of practice includes the assessment and treatment of the soft tissues of the body (muscle, joints, ligaments, tendons, fascia, skin). RMTs can also assist with prevention, augmentation of physical dysfunction and rehabilitation from injury at any age.
The following are a few conditions that your child may benefit from having a massage therapy treatment:
Anxiety or Depression: Soothing and rhythmic techniques, reducing tone in muscles and possibly coaching deep diaphragmatic breathing, may aid as part of a treatment in managing the symptoms of anxiety and/or depression in children.
Cerebral Palsy: The goals would be to reduce pain from the contractured muscles and spasticity of muscles, by using slow repetitive, predictive strokes.
Scoliosis: Treatment goals for scoliosis may include reducing fascial tightness, increasing local circulation, relieving muscle tightness and knots (trigger-points), abdominal work and strengthening the diaphragm by the front of the ribs. Strengthening weak muscles and joint mobilization of ribs and other relevant joints may also be effective.
Tight Muscles and Tension Headaches: May be soothed by reducing the muscle tone and knots in the stiff muscles that are implicated. Sometimes headaches can be brought on by knots in the neck or back, from stuffy sinuses or tension in jaw and facial muscles from grinding or clenching teeth. Massage in these areas may aid in reducing discomfort and pain.
Constipation: Treatment involves treating your child’s abdominal area, possibly your child’s back as well as moving the legs and hips to encourage movement and increase your child’s feeling of relaxation. Special care in communicating and watching body language is taken to make sure we are within your child’s comfort level while treating.
Growing Pains: muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons are growing in length and can sometimes feel uncomfortable and painful. Massage may temporarily sooth the discomforts of growing pains using rhythmic and repetitive techniques over affected areas and gentle manipulation of specific areas of discomfort. The use of deep moist heat can also encourage overall relaxation.
Strains and Sprains: Young athletes and non-athletes may injure their ligaments and muscles. The goal is to reduce pain and increase mobility of joints and muscles. Treatment will be tailored according to where they are in their healing process.
Asthma: Goals may include treating the abdomen (ribs and diaphragm) and neck muscles to reduce muscle tightness of the secondary breathing muscles. Soothing techniques can encourage the feeling of relaxation. Please make sure your child brings their inhaler with them to their appointments.
Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment goals may include relieving excess fluid in the hands and feet reducing muscle tightness in those sore muscles using slow repetitive, rhythmic and predictive techniques to avoid spasticity. Encouraging healthy tissue by using gentle stretches or strengthening muscles is important to minimize tissue breakdown.
As you can see, massage therapy treatments for specific conditions can benefit youth. Booking 60 minutes for your child’s first session will allow for your child to get to know their therapist and for any assessments to be completed. Following this, shorter treatment times of 30 minutes tend to work well. The registered massage therapist will have an age appropriate discussion about ways to feel empowered to communicate with their therapist in order to meet their therapeutic goals. Parents are welcome to stay in the treatment room during their child’s session.
Please be in touch with the Registered Massage Therapists at Proactive Pelvic Health Centre with any questions you may have regarding treatment for younger people.
Ayelet Grosbein, RMT