Infant and Pediatric Massage

Massage therapy is known to be especially beneficial for children, and can address not only their physical ailments, but their emotional care as well. Even if your child doesn’t have any health conditions, they may still be experiencing pressure academically and socially more than ever before.  Infant massage is an important way to communicate with baby and to build trust and understanding.

There are some very clear distinctions between the two modalities of infant massage and pediatric massage. Pediatric massage generally applies to children up to age 18, and infant massage is specialized for children up to 12 months.  It’s important to know how each modality can help your child and why it’s important to start massage as early as possible.

Benefits of Infant Massage

From a medical perspective, massage can aid in weight gain, support immune function, optimize neurological functioning, improve digestion, and decrease stress hormones. Studies show that premature/low-birth-weight infants who received daily massages showed greater weight gain and shorter hospital stays in comparison to control groups who did not receive daily massages. In addition to the health benefits of infant massage, massage may reduce colic, soothe common discomforts, promote restful sleep for the infant, and increase bonding.

Benefits of Pediatric Massage

Children need nurturing touch to grow and reach their full potential. In studies performed by massage therapy researchers, regular massage helps children experience better sleep, stress reduction, fewer growing pains, reduced stress hormones, increased IQ, improved concentration, decreased anxiety, increased focus, and decreased aggression.

For children with health conditions; massage and nurturing touch can provide the child with many physical and psychological benefits to boost their healing. Pediatric massage therapy has been known to help children with numerous health issues including (but not limited to): autism, aggression, broken bones and fractures, cystic fibrosis, depression, HIV/AIDS, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, scoliosis, and sprains.

Researchers have found that children with autism who receive massage therapy show less stereotypical autistic behavior, are more social and attentive, have a decrease in aversion to touch and an increase in concentration, and have less anxiety.  Pediatric massage might provide relaxation, stress reduction and calm muscle spasms. Over time, the child typically becomes more accustomed to tactile stimulation and the benefits of regular pediatric massage are amplified.

For children under significant stress, who have experienced loss, are subject to peer pressure and bullying, have learning, cognitive or anxiety disorders or may be at a higher risk for depression, a regular massage program is especially helpful.  Depression is typically characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness and/or changes in mood and behavior, although symptoms of depression vary with each individual child.

Massage therapy helps ensure safety, trust and open communication between the pediatric client and therapist. It is not up to the massage therapist to diagnose any health condition; rather, we use our training and experience to explore the possibilities that skilled touch can bring to support your child’s health and well-being.  If you’re interested in learning more about how massage therapy can help your child, please give me a call. We can determine together how massage therapy can make a positive impact on your child’s life.

Two Violence Breeding Grounds

A study published in the November 2008 issue of Pediatrics revealed important information about the effect violent video games have on children. After assessing American and Japanese children’s video game habits and their level of physical aggression against each other, the researchers concluded that exposure to violent video games was a casual risk factor for aggression and violence in those children.

Also, appearing in November 2008 publication, a study investigating childhood aggression appeared in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescents Medicine. While it is known that deployment stresses a military’s family, further investigation revealed the impact on preschoolers of having a parent away at war. The researchers concluded that children between the ages of 3 and 5 with a deployed parent are more likely to show aggression than other young children in military families.

NOTE: all under age clients will have a parent/legal guardian in the room during their session

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Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy enhanced with essential oils (highly concentrated plant oils) added to the massage oil or lotion or inhaling.

Inhaling essential oils through the nose is thought to promote beneficial changes in the mind and body by affecting the limbic system (a region of the brain known to influence the nervous system). Essential oils are also believed to be absorbed through the skin.

After the consultation, essential oils may be selected for you and mixed into the massage oil or lotion. Many massage therapists use pre-blended massage oil or lotion. Diffusing essential oils in a diffuser to inhale the oils is also an option. The subtle aroma of the essential oils fills the air around you during the massage.

In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. In fact, several essential oils — including lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, and others — have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

CAUTION: Essential oils may cause an allergic skin reaction. Essential oils can be absorbed through skin, so it’s important to avoid excessive use of aromatherapy oils. If you’re sensitive to scents, aromatherapy may not be right for you.

Post-partum Massage

Post-partum massage has been shown to be effective for a quicker recovery and better health. Unique postpartum benefits include hormone regulation, pain relief, reduced swelling, relaxation, stress reduction, better sleep and improved breastfeeding. More advanced therapy helps restore your body to its pre-pregnancy condition, speeds healing and assists with C-section recovery.

Post-partum massage focuses on helping to restore the body to its pre-pregnancy condition and to address the demands of breast-feeding and of course, the physical and emotional stresses of carrying and caring for a newborn.

Massage therapy helps to speed a woman’s recovery by restoring tone to the muscular and connective tissue, realigns body weight to its original distribution, tones overstretched areas of the skin, increases circulation which assists in the removal of excess fluids, reduces swelling and nourishes the body.

Residual body aches from pregnancy are normal. Adding breastfeeding and childcare can intensify arm, shoulder and back pain. Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication. A skilled therapist may also resolve even associated numbness and tingling. Chronic or severe pain may require multiple sessions for resolution.

As with all massage, postpartum massage eases muscle tension and stress from the overall responsibilities that correspond with caring for a newborn. Sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, swelling, and postpartum blues can all be reduced through massage.

Post-partum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting condition that affects 10-15% of mothers. Studies show massage to be beneficial for treating postpartum depression. Don’t hesitate to consult healthcare providers for assistance, including a postpartum body worker.

Improved Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your newborn, but can also be a challenge for some moms. Massage therapy relaxes the body, increases circulation and increases milk production. Studies show that massage increases prolactin levels, a lactation hormone.

Relaxation in the chest muscles opens the shoulders and improves lactation. New research indicates that breast massage helps relieve breast pain, decreases breast milk sodium and improves newborn suckling. Consult with your therapist about this service as work directly on the breasts may not be legal in some areas.

When Can a New Mother Start Postpartum Massage?

You may start receiving postpartum massages as soon as you feel comfortable. Your therapists will position you comfortably if your abdomen or breasts are sore. If you have maternal complications, first consult with your medical provider.

What Positions Are Safe in Postpartum Massage?

Any position is safe after delivery, but may be adjusted for your comfort or specific treatment. Some moms crave being able to lie face-down again after lying on their sides for almost nine months. Others may be uncomfortable face-down because of breast discomfort or the distraction of leaking milk. The side-lying position can be comfortable and very effective to treat specific issues of the shoulders, pelvis or legs.

Aromatherapy during a Postpartum Massage

Holistic treatment with aromatherapy can be effective therapy for postpartum moms. Essential oils are pure extractions from plants and can assist with relaxation, hormone balance, cleansing, and treatment of anxiety or depression. Most high-quality oils are safe and non-allergenic after pregnancy, but let your therapist know if you are nursing. Most aromatherapy can be diffused into the air, added to lotion or applied topically. Inquire about the therapist’s expertise in this area and if there is an additional charge.

Include Postpartum Massage in Your After Pregnancy Care

Massage can improve post-delivery recovery and health for many women. Supplement the guidance and advice of your medical care provider with massage to support the transition to your new maternal role. A trained therapist will assist you with physical, emotional and educational support as you find the joy of motherhood. Consult with your physician if you have had any complications or have concerns before beginning any new therapeutic practice.

Pre-natal Massage

Massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for pre-natal care. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Modern investigation and research is proving that pre-natal massage therapy can be a very instrumental ingredient in a woman’s pre-natal care and should be given careful consideration. Latest information suggests that women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during first, second, or third trimester. Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, hormone regulation, reduction of swelling, improvement of nerve and back pain, improve circulation, reduce headaches, improve oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.

I take extra care to ensure my pregnancy massage clients are comfortable. Side-lying positioning (once lying on your stomach becomes uncomfortable) supportive, soft cushions are used to alleviate the extra strain on the lower back and pelvic areas when the pressure of massage techniques are applied. Extra strain in these areas can cause unnecessary back or abdominal pain, so naturally we want to avoid any potential discomfort.

Through the second trimester, you may prefer to lie on your back with a small, cushion placed under one hip to provide a slight elevation. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, your therapist may utilize such massage techniques as reflexology, Swedish massage or certain techniques that address your specific requests and needs.

Massage for pregnant women offers a number of benefits, and it’s always a good idea to discuss with your therapist any everyday symptoms you’d like to see relieved. Those might include:

  • Headaches can be relieved by massage focusing on the head, neck and shoulders. In addition, maintaining optimal levels of stress relief through massage reduces the chances of migraines or tension headaches by relaxing trigger points and muscle spasms.
  • Muscle tension created by carrying the extra weight of a baby can be relieved by encouraging blood flow to the afflicted areas. This provides more nutrient-rich oxygen and also increases the flow of lymphatic fluid, which sweeps away toxins and metabolic waste.
  • Fatigue, backaches, leg cramps and swelling/edema can all be relieved through various types of massage for pregnant women.
  • The ordinary aches and pains of pregnancy are countered by the release of serotonin, your body’s natural anti-pain chemical, which is stimulated by massage.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic Massage is massage which is offered with the goal of obtaining a therapeutic benefit. It differs from relaxation massage, performed to help someone relax. While this type of massage is often relaxing, the end goal of the session or series of sessions is not relaxation. This type of massage is offered at a number of spas and massage studios, and many massage schools teach therapeutic techniques to their students.

Therapeutic goals can vary considerably between massage therapists and clients. In some cases, massage is recommended by a health professional and may be performed as part of a larger treatment plan. For example, someone in physical therapy for an injury might have regular therapeutic massage to loosen muscles, improve muscle tone, and increase flexibility. Likewise, it can be used to supplement wound care, cancer care, and a variety of other treatments.

Psychotherapists may also utilize or recommend massage in their work. In addition to having physical benefits, therapeutic massage can also be psychologically beneficial and may be used to increase trust, promote relaxation as part of a therapeutic program, alleviate severe depression, or to treat other conditions. Psychotherapists might even recommend back to back massage and therapy sessions to facilitate psychotherapy.

NOTE: I can NOT and will NOT diagnose a client at any point in our sessions.

Sports Massage

Sports Massage is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements.

Aspects of sports massage therapy are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen. Sports massage therapy can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.

One of the key benefits of Sports massage therapy compared to other modalities is its ability to target muscle-tendon junctions. A 2010 study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion. Another study conducted by Margaret Jones, Ph.D. of the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrated a notable trend toward decreased muscle soreness in the athletes who received massage either before or after exercise.

For anyone participating in regular physical activity, Sports massage therapy every week or two may be a great addition to your normal regimen. It’s best to talk with your professional massage therapist to find a plan that will work best with your schedule, level of activity and budget.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue Massage is a type of massage therapy that uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. While some of the strokes may feel the same as those used in Swedish Massage therapy, deep tissue massage isn’t the same as having a regular massage with deep pressure. It’s used to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle “knots” or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation.

At the beginning of the massage, lighter pressure is generally applied to warm up and prep the muscles. Specific techniques are then applied. The most common techniques include:

Stripping – deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs

Friction – pressure applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.

Deep tissue massage should NOT hurt, but it’s likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic relaxation massage. You should always feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much for you. If the pressure is more than you can comfortably take, you might unconsciously tense up, guarding your body from pain. This makes it harder for the therapist to achieve results.

You are always better off with less pressure — only as much pressure as you can take while still being relaxed. Deep tissue massage isn’t about how deep the therapist can get, but how deep the therapist needs to get in order to reach the muscles needing work.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.

Precautions

Deep tissue massage may not be safe for people with blood clots (e.g. thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged. If you have blood clots or are at risk of forming blood clots, it’s essential that you consult your doctor first.

If you’ve had recent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or any other medical procedure, it’s wise to check with your doctor before starting massage therapy. Some people with osteoporosis should avoid the deeper pressure of this type of massage.

Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, fragile bones, or areas of recent fractures.

If you have any condition, it’s important to consult your primary care provider beforehand to find out what type they recommend. For example, people with certain conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, may not be able to tolerate the pain of a deep tissue massage.

 

Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. It is the most popular type of bodywork performed today; one of the primary goals of the Swedish Massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by massaging the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. However, Swedish Massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. It is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish Massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.

In all Swedish massage, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage lotion, crème, oil or gel, and performs various massage strokes. These movements warm up the muscle tissue, releasing tension and gradually breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissues, called adhesions. Swedish massage promotes relaxation, among other health benefits.

Additional Swedish Massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish Massage session; communication is encouraged with your professional massage therapist so that your massage is customized to your specific needs.

Before the massage, the therapist should ask you about any injuries or other conditions that he or she should know about. Things you would want tell a therapist include areas of tightness or pain, allergies, and conditions like pregnancy. You can also tell them up front if you have a preference for light or firm pressure.