Massage therapist Hannah Gamble tells us more.
Many people think children don’t need sports massage and are immune to tight muscles and scar tissue build up. Why do they think this? Because children are invincible….aren’t they?
Many children take part in regular, quality-level sport and the amount of training they do seems to have increased in the last decade. This is all fantastic news for our children’s health, but we must take into consideration that they are growing and developing.
All children between 8 and 16 are more prone to growth related pain and injuries, due to growth spurts. Bones often grow more rapidly than muscles, putting muscle fibres under strain, causing tightness, pain and an increased risk of tearing. Sports massage can help to ease this pain and keep the muscles healthy, by increasing blood flow, waste removal and gently stretching the fibres.
For athletic children, over training, lack of rest, lack of stretching, all combined with explosive movements, can cause the most resilient child to injure themselves. Children don’t realise when they are over training and need guidance when to take a break, and they often feel under pressure not to let their team mates down by missing training or a match. Unfortunately, we as parents often think their youthful bodies will just bounce back, and to a certain degree they do. But, it is important to look after their precious bodies, rather than let them ‘wear’ out at an early age.
Children and teenagers should run around as much as possible, please don’t think we are suggesting otherwise, but the activity levels (usually high- intensity/explosive type exercise) coupled with sitting for many hours at school, and sitting using electronics in the evening, will put strain through many muscles and joints of the body. So, injuries do happen – both from exercise as well as excessive sitting.
Parents who have seen the benefits of massage on their own bodies are more likely to seek treatment for their children but are often concerned initially that sports massage would be too intense for their child. Massage therapists use reduced depth and attuned techniques on younger patients – modified to suit the individuals age and body development.
The key to preventing neck and back injuries from sitting or using electronic devises, is to educate your child on good posture. And from the activities perspective, starting to educate them in good warm up/warm down routines, stretches and an awareness of core strength (strong stomach and back muscles supporting the midriff) will go a long way to good skeletal health. If you need advice on how to educate your child in good posture and core, please book in to see Mel (Chiropractor), Hannah (Massage Therapist) or Katie Brighton-Jones (Personal Trainer).
Massage, as well as chiropractic, can be used alongside education for preventative measures as well as injury treatment. Many of our patients use sports massage as a preventative treatment. They want to keep their body properly conditioned (flexible muscles, mobile joints) so they can reduce the chance of injuries, such as sprains, strains and muscle tears. Many children only receive their first massage, after they have experienced some form of injury or pain. The trick is to use the sports massage on a regular basis in order to prevent future problems, especially if children are particularly athletic.
Our massage therapist, Hannah would be happy to show parents some useful massage techniques which can be used at home, when their child is in for treatment.
Massage has many benefits on the body and these are especially helpful for a developing child, such as:
- Reduce tension in growing muscles
- Reduce pain
- Increase flexibility
- Maintain healthy muscles
Massage can also help to:
- Boost immune system
- Reduce stress hormone levels / anxiety – many children suffer from some level of anxiety at times – school work, friends, exams, competitions etc. Massage has a calming effect on the body and contribute to a healthier immune system.
- The International Journal of Neuroscience reported that massage improved function in the brain, resulting in increased alertness as well as speed and accuracy during math problems. (alertness and accuracy in school classes has also been attributed to exercise and yoga – so keeping a child fit and active can help them to develop in school)