Pediatric Massage – Essential Touch for Children

Pediatric Massage – Essential Touch for Children

It is March Break here in Canada and seeing all the smiling children in public places this week has reminded made me think about why it is so important that we fill the essential need for touch for these precious members of our families.  Massage is beneficial to just about everyone, but children in particular have an essential need for touch. The benefits are numerous:

  • Touch stimulates our brains. The limbic cortex area of our brain allows us to generate emotions and make connection with others.  This touch is biologically necessary for survival.
  • Massage aids sleeping. Pediatric Massage has been found to help children fall asleep quicker, sleeping deeper and for longer periods of time. A full night’s rest can aid in the healing process as well as create the optimal time for the largest percentage of healthy growth to take place.
  • Touch can ease physical symptoms and emotional discomfort. Research has suggested that massage therapy can alleviate physical symptoms and emotional stress associated with pediatric medical conditions. Studies have shown pain, anxiety and depression can be minimized in children after massage.  This gentle touch therapy also provides comfort, relaxation, reduction of stress hormones and relief from chronic conditions like asthma, nausea, constipation and muscle aches.

For example, immediately after receiving massage, children with mild-to-moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis experience decreased anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. For young children with autism, their aversion to touch decreases with massage, while their ability to focus increases.

Numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of pediatric massage therapy when safely provided by trained professionals. “Pediatric massage provides a wonderful, unspoken communication of compassion and healing,” said Ana Maria Verissimo, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics int he Department of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Centre. “The ability to provide massage therapy as an adjunct to conventional medical treatment is a dream come true.”

Touch creates and maintains bonds between people, especially between parents and children. Giving a child a nurturing touch can deepen the trust and joy in a parent-child relationship.  For children who have difficulties with verbal language acquisition, eye contact and tactile aversions, evidence suggests the application of pediatric massage may be very effective.  Children who receive massage often appear to relax quicker and focus with greater success after their session.

Children who benefit from receiving healthy touch are often more giving of gentle touch to their family members and peers. Having an understanding of how massage makes them feel and noticing their parents upset, uncomfortable or in pain can bring about the desire to want to comfort them through giving nurturing touch.

When spending time with peers, children may notice their friend might benefit from healthy touch, a hug or a gentle pat on the back. When they want to convey their friendship, a gentle massage on the back passes along the message, “I care for you.”

Show a child in your family you care this March Break by giving them a gentle massage. For a more therapeutic massage you can contact me.

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