By Sandy Levy
Kids need massage for all the reasons that adults do and more, because they cannot even survive and grow without loving touch. Like adults, some children suffer from injuries and from general muscular tightness and pain—think heavy backpacks, and too much computer time!
When a young child needs massage therapy, the best provider is a parent. Certainly infant massage is in this category. We do not offer classes in infant massage, but there are whole books on the subject and you can find simple instructions here.
Youngsters are naturally fearful of being handled by a stranger, and may be anxious, especially if they have had painful medical treatments. Sometimes the best plan is for the therapist to assess the child’s needs and train the parent to treat the child. Progress can be monitored by phone consultation, or further visits, as needed.
Older kids are often happy to be treated by a therapist, particularly if their parent remains with them at least initially, though we have had very outgoing children who were fine on their own from the get-go. This is a judgment call for parents, with input from the therapist.
The techniques used for children are no different from those used for an adult. It isn’t age that determines the choice of technique or the choice of how to apply it, but the need of the particular person. One might think, for instance, that a strong, densely-muscled person might require very deep pressure, but this is no more true than the notion that a small, elderly person could want or need only light touch.
One more benefit of introducing massage therapy to a child: children can also give massages, and older children, especially, can be quite good at it. This is a skill well-worth introducing!