Stress, injuries, and illness are not exclusive to adulthood, leaving a significant number of pediatric clients and youth who can greatly benefit from massage.
While you may still hold an image of massage therapy in your head as being a luxury pampering that takes place in a fancy spa environment, the truth is, most massage therapy is performed in medical offices and in client’s homes.
These sessions are focused on relieving pain and improving muscle tone, reducing stress, improving flexibility, and recovering from an injury.
Kids can get just as much relief from a massage as Mom and Dad.
Working with Pediatric and Young Clients
A child’s anatomy differs from adults in many ways, not just in size.
Young children have more bones than adults, as there are many that fuse as they age.
It’s important that your massage therapist know these differences and any precautions to take to avoid injury.
Infant massage is usually sought under a doctor’s recommendation to assist with some conditions that are unique to the very young.
It is often used to help promote sleep and there is some evidence that suggests that early massage can help boost the immune system of children born prematurely.
Soothing a child with gentle massage can help reduce the symptoms of colic.
Your massage therapist must have a very gentle touch and should not introduce any range of motion exercise into the session as dislocation and hyperextension is a risk.
When a child is old enough to begin walking regularly, massage can be introduced to improve posture and can help correct issues with gait.
Early intervention by working with antagonist muscles can treat common problems such as bow legs, pigeon toes, and foot drop.
Many children begin participating in team sports and competitions at an early age.
Dancing, gymnastics, Little League, and soccer are all examples of activities that can stress your child’s muscles.
Youth and Teens
You may not remember all that well, but middle school and high school are incredibly stressful.
Classes get more difficult, social interactions become more confusing, and most kids don’t get the sleep they need.
This is also the time that kids start going through very fast growth spurts, resulting in frequent muscle cramps and “growing pains.”
On top of all of that, heavier participation in sports and physical activities can lead to injuries, cramps, and spasms.
Pediatric and Youth Massage Safety
Selecting a licensed or certified massage therapist ensures that your practitioner has gone through a thorough background check, including fingerprinting and criminal history review.
Additionally, look for bodyworkers who belong to professional organizations that enforce strict ethical and professional standards. For example, the American Massage Therapy Association and the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodyworkers.
I am a member of both. In fact, as of 2021 I am an elected Board Member to the Missouri Chapter of the AMTA.
Aaron Harris, BCTMB Age Policy for Pediatric and Youth Massage
I have worked with clients of all ages in a variety of situations. I have discovered that the following policies make the sessions go smoothly:
- Children under the age of 13 MUST be accompanied by a parent at all times.
- Children 13 and under should get any of the fully clothed modalities, such as shiatsu, Thai (age 6 and up), reflexology, or craniosacral.
- Children aged 14 – 18 may choose any modality and parents are required to remain on premises, but may choose to leave the room for the session. Kids of this age may feel more comfortable with the added level of privacy.