When we think about services like massage, acupuncture and yoga we tend to think about them as being for adults but these treatments are equally beneficial and appreciated by kids too!
As adults, some of our structural challenges and the related pains have roots in injuries we experienced as kids that created fascial changes in our bodies that over time changed our structure. If we had received some bodywork when these injuries occurred (like we do as adults) there is a good chance that we may have corrected these problems early which may have prevented long term problems.
Another thing to consider is the systemic effects that can result from trauma (like a fall off the monkey bars) to the structure of a child’s body. I can use my daughter as a good example of this. A six year old through and through, Neko loves to move her body. She learns gymnastics twice a week and is always eager to practice her new “tricks”. Last week she came home from her lesson and eagerly told me she learned how to do a back walkover. She attempted to demonstrate this new trick in our livingroom and landed hard on the top of her head. I could see when this happened that her neck had also been affected.
When cervical vertebrae or the skull, experiences a trauma like this the side effects that can/may result are: neck or back pain, misalignment of the spine, headaches, concussion, blurred vision, irritability, lack of focus, and lethargy. It is difficult to precisely identify what someone may experience based on the overall mental and physical health of the body. Each body will react differently to the same type of “trauma”. (Down the road, a problem in the neck, that the body was unable to heal on its own, could lead to problems in the hip, knee, or ear!)
One strategy to address this type of injury is Craniosacral Therapy. In a CST session the therapist will: palpate the child’s body to identify the primary source of dysfunction from the child’s fall. Then through light physical touch (no more than the weight of a penny), the tissues and bones of the body are helped to release their compressions, so that the body may heal itself, and find better alignment. The desired outcome would be to not just treat and alleviate the symptoms of the fall, but to release the site of impact or the source of the symptoms, so that the child may be pain free. (If the fall or trauma was particularly emotional for the child, the emotions could also be released from the tissues, by dialoguing with the child, so that the child does not hold onto it.) The session is only different from a session in which an adult is the client in that their craniosacral rhythm beats faster than an adult, and they frequently release restrictions easily. Children are extremely open to the idea that their body can heal itself. Children make great therapists themselves, when they offer healing touch to parents, siblings, and friends who have had “owies”.
I brought both Neko and my son Milo (who also had recently taken a bad tumble down a set of stairs) in to see Amy this week. I was astounded at how calm both kids became during their sessions and how quickly they got there. Have you ever seen a 2-1/2 year old boy remain still for 45 minutes straight (and not be asleep?) I hadn’t either until his session of CST. Mid-way through the session he looked over at me and said “This is fun. Can I do it again sometime?” After his session we came right home and he proceeded to have a great nap. He has a broken elbow which is in a cast and Amy was able to do some great work around his shoulder which has been working extra hard to support the heavy cast. Neko was also very calm after her session. Amy recommended we come back for a follow up session for Neko because she noticed some restriction in her occiput that might need a little more work.
Some conditions that CST can help to address in children are:
Injury (subacute and chronic)
Chronic Ear Infection
Colic in infants
Abnormal Muscle Tone
Strabismus and Nystagmus,
Reflux and digestive disorders
Latching Issues in infants
In addition to accidents and injuries we have seen a number of young people – primarily teens – who are experiencing stress. The pressures of grades, SATs, activities and social issues leave our teens in some pretty serious states of high stress. Concerned parents have brought their children in for massage to encourage some relaxation. These kids can also experience guided meditation and reiki in their sessions to deepen the relaxation effect and to learn strategies for coping with stress on their own.
Massage is great for babies too and this is something you can learn to do for them on your own!
Infant massage can work to:
- Reduces stress hormones
- Increases midline orientation
- Deepens bonding and communication
- Enhances body awareness
- Encourages Development
- Improves sleep and provides relaxation
- Aids in digestion
Introducing bodywork into our children’s healthcare routine can help to avoid chronic pain and other health issues throughout their lives. Teaching them to care for themselves in these ways set them up for a lifetime of good health.