Balance Blog

May 4th

Massage for Children With ADHD

Posted by with No Comments

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is on the rise in the U.S.  A Center for Disease Control survey of parents found that approximately 9.5%, or 5.4 million children between the ages of four and seventeen have been diagnosed with ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD, mainly inattention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity, can last into adulthood.  Often a child with ADHD has difficulty in school, in peer and family relationships.

Mary in Louisville writes, “I think the most challenging part about ADHD for my son is that he wants to please, but very often behaves in ways that frustrate the adults in his life.  He knows he should ‘do better’, but often does not have the capacity to think before he acts. “

According to researchers at the University of Miami Touch Research Institute, ADHD in kids can be treated effectively by receiving regular massage therapy.  In one study, children ages 7-18 received massage for twenty minutes, twice a week. These kids experienced immediate improvement in their moods, and their classroom behavior improved over the long term.

In another study by the Touch Research Institute, adolescent boys with ADHD received ten fifteen-minute massages daily.  Their teachers observed these children to be able to focus more readily on their schoolwork, and were able to sit quietly with less fidgeting.

In both studies, the kids themselves reported feeling happier, and among the 7-18 year olds, their teachers found them to be more attentive in school.

Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, helping to calm the massage receiver and stave off the fight-or-flight response.  Massage has been shown to help with academic performance, alertness, and focus.  Massage can help depressive and anxiety disorders, which may help some children struggling with ADHD.

Because children with ADHD can have difficulty staying still for long periods, they may better tolerate shorter massage sessions.  The therapist may start out with thirty minutes, and shorten or lengthen the following session based on the child’s reaction.  The child may receive massage fully clothed if she or he desires, may choose to wear just shorts, or shorts and tank top.  Generally a child with ADHD will benefit from massage to the back, neck, head, arms and legs.  The child can be massaged lying on a massage table, or if fully clothed, may feel more comfortable seated on a massage chair.

For parents and caregivers interested in doing the massage themselves, some massage practitioners may offer training either in their office, or in your home.  Parents can then choose to give the massages themselves, or to alternate sessions with a licensed massage therapist.  Creating a routine time for massage can be a special bonding time for parents and caregivers and their children to look forward to and enjoy.

C.A. in Louisville writes, “I really dislike the term ‘Attention Deficit DISORDER.’ Because my brain is different and faster than most doesn’t mean I am defective.”  Chuck in Colorado agrees: “In retrospect, as a child and an adult with ADHD, I’ve had to deal with not only the special way my brain works, but also the non-acceptance of ADHD by society.”  He goes on, “I think the name ADHD is an observer’s perspective and not a true description of what the condition is. I don’t have a deficit of attention, I have an excess of it.”

Understanding the needs of a child with ADHD can help the massage practitioner, parents and all caregivers provide the best care possible.  Massage therapy can be a powerful tool to help ADHD children develop self-confidence, inner organization, physical grounding in the world, and overall healthy balance.

Read More
Apr 27th

The Benefits of Sports Massage for Children

Posted by with No Comments

The Benefits of Sports Massage for Children

It’s estimated that nearly 250,000 children get injured each year playing sports.  Often an injured child  will have to sit out for several weeks or months to allow the body time to heal. Sitting out for a season can be frustrating and upsetting.  Massage can help the recovery process go a little smoother. Some benefits of sports massage are:

Faster recovery time

Most children are anxious to get back on the field after an injury. Sports massage can shorten the length of time needed for recovery by stimulating the flow of oxygen and healing nutrients to the muscles.  It can also reduce scar tissue and relieve stress on the injured joints and connective tissues.

Increases flexibility and range of motion

Sports massage can improve the elasticity of tissues, helping to increase flexibility and range of motion. Children who are more flexible and have a wider range of motion are less likely to suffer a second injury.

Helps eliminate lactic acid

Lactic acid is a substance that builds up in the muscles after an intense workout. Lactic acid and other muscular waste products can irritate the muscles and cause soreness. A massage can help alleviate soreness by helping the body remove excess waste products, replacing them with the oxygen-rich blood muscles need for healthy function.

Can help boost performance

Many children fear that their performance will suffer if they sit out for too long. The improved flexibility and range of motion that massage offers can help enhance a child’s athletic performance, after an injury or at any time during the playing season.

Read More
Apr 17th

Massage and Childhood Stress

Posted by with No Comments

People of all ages are affected by stress.  Unlike adults, young children may not have developed coping skills to deal with their anxiety, and grownups can step in and help out.  Bringing your child to a massage therapist may not solve the stressful situation, but the soothing touch of massage can help even the youngest children to cope better with their feelings.

Children can be very sensitive to their surroundings, leading to anxiety when those surroundings change. Childhood stress can result from starting school, transferring to a new school, the death of pets and other loved ones.  Children are also very sensitive to tension in the home, despite parents’ best efforts to shield them.  Like adults, children can also be sensitive to pressure – from their parents, teachers, peers or society.  Usually these messages are subtle, and often inadvertent, such as pressure to perform better in school and sports, to fit in, to have a certain body image and appearance.  These subtle messages can weigh down young spirits and create anxiety.

The caring touch of childhood massage can help counteract these messages by allowing the child to become physically grounded in a positive message: I’m ok, just the way I am.  By providing a sense of calm and well-being to the child, anxiety can be lessened.

In some instances, such as when a child is not as comfortable with strangers as with family, caregivers may choose to learn childhood massage techniques and provide the massage themselves.  Louisville has massage practitioners who are able to provide that training.  Look for someone who has experience both providing hands-on pediatric massage, and training others in massage techniques.

Read More
Apr 6th

Balance Babies and Massage

Posted by with 4 Comments

Do you have a new baby in your life, or perhaps know someone who does? There are so many new things to learn! Diapers, feeding, sleep, how to introduce a new baby to siblings and pets … have you ever considered adult/infant communication as part of this new skill set?

Infant massage has been in practice for centuries. It’s something that new parents and caregivers have instinctively turned to for nurturing their new little ones. What most people are less aware of is that touch is a form of communication – for a newborn, a very important form of communication. Touch is the first sense to develop, and the skin is the body’s largest sensory organ. Without words, with little understanding of facial expressions and body language, touch is the lifeline between an infant and the world around her.

Massage has many benefits for a newborn. The calming effect of massage can help the newborn get more restful sleep. The immune system, circulation, brain functioning, muscle tone and coordination all benefit from massage. A gentle caress can help to ease a distressed infant. It can also serve to increase the bond the caregivers feel with their baby, by giving them an additional means to soothe and calm the baby. Parents who give their infants massage report feeling better able to cope with caring for their child. Massage aids digestion, which may help prevent colic, help the baby gain weight easier and grow more quickly. Some studies have shown that premature infants, who were given massage while in the hospital, actually grew up to 47% faster and were released from the hospital as many as 6 days earlier than babies not given massage.

Massage helps to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This can be helpful when the newborn is recovering from birth trauma. In some cases, however, babies should not be given massage – if your baby has a fever, s/he should not receive massage. In cases of premature birth, fracture or incision, talk to a massage therapist certified in infant massage to find out how to proceed. In cases of hemophilia or malignancy, caregivers should consult a doctor or nurse before proceeding. Consider taking a class with a massage therapist certified in infant massage. You’ll receive hands-on training in just the right strokes and pressure to use for your baby, and you’ll learn the safest and most effective means of providing the right massage care for your baby.

Most importantly, look for a massage therapist who can help you learn a baby’s language – time-out cues like gaze avoidance, splayed fingers and different types of cries. Babies, like anyone else, feel the need to be heard. The language of gentle touch will help build the foundation for a lifetime of positive communication between you and your baby.

Read More