With few exceptions, children love touch, and massage is wonderful for their growing bodies.
There are some really important things to look out for if you are seeking a massage therapist, or intending to massage your own children.
Children are resilient. Remember that their bodies aren’t yet fully formed. And touch can make and break trust.
I have massaged my children since they were born and they love touch. I also know that I can not “make” them have a massage just because I think they should have one.
The photo above is of my son – he came to my studio at the end of my shift and spontaneously asked for massage. He tells me where he wants massage and I listen to his words and watch the cues of his body. He tells me when he’s had enough. What privilege!
Growing is a tough gig for children. From birth to adulthood, their bodies stretch and morph. Bones grow in length, knit and knit together. Muscles and ligaments lengthen and strengthen in response to size and activity. Growing is energy intensive and for some children it can be painful too.
The combination of muscle soreness from sport, play, study and growth can be uncomfortable leading to tiredness, loss of enthusiasm and lethargy. Children are pretty resilient and tend to bounce back faster than adults do. Like adults, children benefit from massage to help them to keep moving, and better still children love caring and nurturing touch!
Massage improves muscle flexibility and range of motion. It is a sleep improver, and a refreshed child is an energised and happy child.
I encourage parents to massage their own children as I feel that it is an important act for improving the bond bond between parent and child. If you do not feel confident or perhaps you are uncomfortable massaging your child then seek the assistance of a massage therapist.
WHEN TO SEEK MASSAGE
Does your child have a fresh injury? Breaks, strains/sprains, muscle tear, and impact injuries need to be treated by a GP or physiotherapist first. Children’s bodies are exceptionally sensitive to injury, particularly the growth plates.
I would also recommend seeking the advice of a GP if your child is suffering regular, severe headaches – particularly if dizziness, nausea and memory loss is also present.
As a massage therapist, I work with the soft tissues of the body to help keep muscles and connective tissues healthy.
An injury can have an impact on your child long after it has visibly healed. This could be inefficient movement formed by habit (eg a limp), favouring the “good” limb, changes in posture or inefficient muscle movement due to scar tissue, trigger points and adhesions.
Older children also have additional stresses of study at high school, university and are often balancing work and sport. Massage is a welcome break and can assist in reducing the impact of stress and mild / severe headaches.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Your child may never have had a massage before from you or a professional and he or she might feel nervous/anxious or self conscious. Please help me to give the best treatment possible by preparing your child prior to your first visit.
Things you need to know:
- I am a male therapist. I can recommend a female colleague to you if your child is likely to be more comfortable.
- Your child should where shorts, and singlet or sports bra – this allows access to the majority of leg and back/neck. I will never ask your child to remove his or her undergarments.
- Sometimes I need to observe posture and movement – I do this by looking at the way the body moves and by feeling for differences in the muscle and its movement.
- I need your permission and your child’s permission for every massage treatment.
- Your child has rights to his or her body and can refuse the treatment that I recommend.
- I require all children under 16 years to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Your child can ask you to wait in the waiting area.
- Treatment will last 20 to 30 minutes.
- Treatment might require touch to the buttock and upper front of the torso (upper pectoral area). I will never touch the breast area, or work in the upper inner thigh (groin) of any child.
- I will most likely massage your child through a towel or his or her clothing. The singlet might be moved to allow access to the back if it is appropriate to do so.
- I will talk to your child throughout the treatment so he or she knows exactly what to expect.
- We can stop the appointment at any stage if your child is uncomfortable.
- Treatment techniques may include massaging muscles, gentle thumb or finger pressure to muscle and gentle stretching.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A THERAPIST
It might come as a surprise that massage is an unregulated industry in Australia. The title of massage therapist is not protected by a board, unlike that of other medical industries such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture amongst many others.
If you are seeking a massage therapist for yourself or your child here’s some simple things to look for or ask:
- Qualifications: Cert IV, Diploma or Degree
- Professional membership: requires the therapist stays up to date and also enforces a code of practice
- Insurance: the therapist should be insured, and there are an alarming number who are not
- Background screening: it’s your right to ask for evidence of a National Police Certificate or Working with Children Certificate.
Importantly, look at the personality of your therapist. Touch takes trust and your therapist should have a personality that will reassure your child.
I am David Clayton a Remedial Massage Therapist based in Modbury – I am married and we have two beautiful children. Massage is wonderful for growing bodies and I massaged my wife through her pregnancy and both of my children from birth.
Massage does not need to hurt to be effective – I take a gentle, respectful and nurturing approach to massage – giving muscles and tissue time to change, rather than forcing change. I work with children, young adults, expectant mums, and older adults. I have a passion for improving movement particularly with people who have very old injuries, conditions of the head neck and pelvis, and chronic pain conditions.
Member of Massage and Myotherapy Australia and registered with all applicable health funds to offer rebates.
Bachelor of Applied Science, Dip Remedial Massage, Cert Pregnancy Massage, Master Herbalist, NAT Trigger Point Master