October 29, 2013
When you combine the benefits of both massage therapy and a regular fitness practice, you may find that your overall health gets a nice boost, especially in terms of muscle recovery, range of motion and other such factors. The blend of benefits one can derive from massage therapy and fitness pursuits often proves well worth the effort.
In fact, in some circles, massage therapy may be considered one piece of the broader picture when it comes to the concept of fitness. If your definition of fitness expands beyond the basics of activities such as lifting weights or jogging, then it should be easy to see how massage therapy can be an element of fitness as well. This bigger perspective on fitness not only includes practices such as massage therapy, but perhaps healthy eating, meditation and other concepts and principles.
However, even if you think of massage therapy as totally separate from a regular fitness practice, it is tough to deny it can serve as a wonderful balance to the intense physical activity performed by those who are committed to regular fitness practices. Much in the way that a healthy diet or consistent meditation might benefit one’s athletic performance and fitness results, massage therapy can complement overall fitness.
For example, consider a person who lifts weights and performs some form of cardiovascular exercise five days a week. This person’s body may be experiencing wear and tear from this fitness practice, especially if the resistance training and cardio sessions are performed at levels of high intensity. With the wear and tear of such a committed fitness practice, this person’s muscles and joints most likely need to be cared for with regular rest days and, if at all possible, regular massage therapy appointments.
One of the most important ways massage therapy can complement fitness is by focusing on the health and optimal function of the body. In other words, a massage therapy appointment can be a time for the athlete or fitness enthusiast not only to receive much-needed rest, but also to receive the application of massage techniques that may be able to help speed the healing and rejuvenation of the body’s muscles and joints.
A prime example of the benefits of massage therapy for the person with a regular fitness practice is the fact that massage therapy can help ease aching muscles. However, there can be many other associated fitness benefits when it comes to massage therapy, such as increased range of motion, increased circulation, greater mental ease and relaxation, and so on.
By balancing one’s regular fitness practice with a consistent commitment to receiving massage therapy, attaining those goals of greater health and wellness may be achieved at a faster rate—and with less chance of injury. After all, when the body is receiving adequate rest and the healing techniques of massage therapy as a counterbalance to the physical stress of regular fitness training, the chances of injury can be decreased.
Source: Massage Magazine
October 22, 2013
Being committed to fitness can mean a number of things, and the definition of committed fitness tends to depend on the individual. However, many people may agree fitness is not a narrow concept. Instead, it can involve everything from exercise and diet to mental attitude and adequate rest. Here, we take a look at several important pieces of the overall fitness puzzle.
For starters, the word fitness tends to bring up images of various forms of exercise. For one person, fitness might involve a consistent routine of resistance training and cardio exercise. For another, the exercise portion of fitness might mean attending regular yoga classes and taking a jog several mornings each week. From riding bicycles and swimming laps to participating in aerobic exercise classes and lifting weights, there is a broad range of exercises that can fall into the category of committed fitness.
Perhaps one of the less obvious, but no less important, pieces of overall fitness is adequate rest. This is what happens in between those exercise sessions, and it can be crucial to maintaining one’s optimal fitness level. This is because the body does most of its healing and repairing and rebuilding during periods of rest—not during the actual exercise sessions. When resting, the individual who is committed to fitness will be allowing his or her muscles to build and recharge.
However, rest does not just mean sleeping. It can also mean taking a more active approach to the healing and rejuvenating aspects of fitness. In this sense, being committed to fitness can mean scheduling regular appointments with a massage therapist. Massage therapy fits into the picture of all-around fitness because it can serve to boost the health of both the body and mind. For example, an hour spent on the table during a massage therapy appointment can speed the repair of the body’s muscles, which are under stress during those exercise sessions.
If you know people who doubt the importance of massage therapy when it comes to high levels of fitness, provide examples of most major professional sports teams. These teams typically hire massage therapists to help their athletes stay in top form, prevent injuries or heal as fast as possible from existing injuries or setbacks. The intense rest and rejuvenation massage therapy can provide is a wonderful complement to the stress and strain regular physical activity can place on the body.
Of course, the power of massage therapy to boost and maintain one’s fitness level is not just for professional athletes. Any person who is committed to fitness can tap into the benefits of massage therapy as a counterbalance to exercise. For instance, many people who enjoy competing in marathons and other types of races will book massage therapy appointments on a regular basis to keep their bodies in top form.
Remember, being committed to fitness is not all about being active. It is also about taking care of your body by getting enough rest and seeking out massage therapy to help soothe sore muscles and prevent possible injuries.
Source: Massage Magazine
October 8, 2013
The short answer is, yes, of course–you need a massage. Who doesn’t? You deal with deadlines, long lines, short tempers, and your dog’s distemper. We’re all at the receiving end of things we would rather not deal with. Massage can be the valve that eases the pressure.
Massage therapy is useful for many conditions, in addition to relaxation and stress relief. See your doctor for a diagnosis first, and then consult your massage therapist.
Relax Your Sore Jaw
Does your jaw make a popping or cracking sound when you chew? Do you clench your jaws without even knowing it? If so, then you may have temperomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
Many people are surprised this is something massage therapy can help. However, TMD is a biomechanical problem. It’s muscle that’s doing all that clenching; spasm in those muscles can throw off the proper function of the jaw joints, causing pain and sometimes headaches. Trauma to the mouth or tooth loss can also be contributing factors. Many people experience a popping or clicking in their jaws, but if it isn’t painful, it isn’t considered pathological.
People suffering from TMD find it difficult to open their mouths very wide and activities like brushing their teeth or chewing meat may be too painful. There is a lot you can do to help yourself if you do have TMD. Your massage therapist can show you exercises to relax your jaw, as well as bring down local pain and general stress that lead to all that jaw muscle tension. In these treatments, therapists often work on the muscles inside the mouth. Using a sterile protective glove, therapists will work to release those troublesome trigger points.
Bonus tip. If you suspect you have TMD, check with your dentist. He or she can diagnose the problem and may have more solutions to ease the jaw pain. Jaw-clenching can also damage teeth. If you wake with sore jaws or aching teeth, you may be clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep.
Ease Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from several variations of spastic colon, a condition that often alternates between constipation and diarrhea. If you develop bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel habits, or if your stool has an unusual appearance, your first stop is to see your doctor to explore these symptoms. Your doctor may want a sample to check for parasites or blood in your stool and may order a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy to rule out serious possibilities. Often the cause is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a benign disorganization in the peristaltic movements of the colon.
The bowels are so nerve-rich that some people refer to the colon as the body’s “second brain.” Its actions are very sensitive to your mental state, so stress management–and massage–are key. As with many other conditions, the less stress you feel, the less pain you feel. Massage releases the power of your body’s inner pharmacy: endorphins. When you receive massage, your autonomic nervous system is affected so pain signals are slowed or stopped. In short, massage calms things down.
After you have a diagnosis, speak with your therapist about your condition. You may benefit from a soothing abdominal massage to aid your digestion. Consider massage as part of a program to reduce IBS symptoms, as well as eliminating certain foods that cause sensitivities. Many IBS sufferers try elimination diets or consult a nutritionist to aid their digestion and figure out which foods make their symptoms worse.
Bonus tip. Until just a few years ago, it was thought that a diagnosis of IBS indicated a greater likelihood of colon cancer in the patient’s future. Happily, more recent research indicates that is not so.
Alleviate That Pain In The Neck
In adults, neck pain–clinically known as torticollis–often comes on suddenly as the muscles in one side of your neck become so short that your head is drawn down to one side. Massage therapists are great at lengthening short, tight muscles. After an evaluation of the range of motion in your neck, your therapist will use gentle massage techniques to gradually slow the nerve firing in the painful area. As the tension eases, the therapist may use trigger-point release techniques and various ways of stretching the muscle to regain balance and normalize the muscular function in your neck. Follow-up exercises will keep that tissue supple and healthy.
Several times a summer I will amaze a client suffering torticollis by asking if they slept the night before under the cool breeze of a fan blowing directly over their body. Fast asleep in one position too long, a shortened neck muscle is chilled and painful trigger points result.
Get your therapist on speed dial before next summer’s heat waves hit or prevent the pain by not allowing the air conditioner or fan to blow directly on you all night.
Bonus tip. Torticollis limits your neck’s range of motion so you can’t check your blind spots while driving. For everyone’s safety, please let someone else drive you to your appointment.
Get Rid Of Tennis Elbow
You don’t have to play tennis to get this nasty dysfunction: lateral epicondylitis. People who do a lot of work on a keyboard frequently get it, too. It’s a form of tendonitis (an inflammation of a tendon at the outside of the elbow).
If you feel pain at your elbow, speak to your therapist. He or she will help you identify the pain by palpating gently the painful area and may perform range of motion tests or ask you to move your arm in certain ways as he or she resists those motions.
Tennis elbow is a common condition that can be persistent if not treated. Treatment may require general massage above and below the affected joint and specific friction-based techniques. Your therapist will instruct you in the use of ice packs to ease the pain and will reevaluate your progress with each office visit to monitor and document changes.
With tennis elbow it is important for you to take a break from whatever activities make the pain worse. You will also be asked to do some homework with remedial exercises to strengthen the tendon and the surrounding muscle.
Bonus tip. You may feel pain on the inside of the elbow. This is a similar problem affecting a different tendon and arises from a different motion. It’s called golfer’s elbow (or medial epicondylitis). Assessment and progress of treatment is similar to tennis elbow.
Quiet Your Headaches
There are several different kinds of headaches, each with different causes. For instance, there are migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. If you suspect any of the above, see your doctor and then see your massage therapist. People often make their own diagnosis and assume any very painful headache is a migraine. It’s possible, but not necessarily so. Tension or sinus headaches can be exquisitely torturous, too, but the kind of headache you have is not determined by its intensity but by its likely cause.
Migraines affect 23 million Americans a year, typically afflicting women more than men. These headaches are sometimes preceded by a warning phase where you see haloes, auras, or wavy lines around lights. This type of headache is very debilitating. The sufferer will want to retreat to a quiet, dark room.
Migraines have a hormonal basis and may recur even if you eliminate known triggers. Still, it’s best to be aware of these potential triggers. Migraines are often linked to bodily reactions to aspartame, caffeine, cheese, citrus, ice cream, monosodium glutomate, or red wine, and the pain occurs on one side of the head.
Let your doctor make the diagnosis and, if appropriate, let your massage therapist ease the pain.
Bonus tip. Many people with migraines find it helpful during the early stages of the headache to plunge their hands and forearms into ice water. This reroutes blood to the extremities and can abort a headache. Some headache sufferers also use biofeedback therapy to stop migraines before they build to full force.
If you wake with headache pain, contact your doctor’s office since this type of head pain may signal the need for medical intervention.
Many people experience headaches only occasionally and often the hidden cause is dehydration. You may just need to drink more water.
Get A Massage For The Joy Of It
Our nervous systems are wired for the flight or fight response. Stress was eased in the old days by the exercise humans got when they successfully eluded hungry bears. However, in modern times, stress and worry tend to hang around.
As long as we’ve been on this planet, massage has been a joyful thing to receive. Our brains and bodies are wired to enjoy it.
Poke an animal with a stick and muscle contracts. In other words, stress makes muscle shorten. Massage–softening and lengthening muscle–counteracts that compressive stress.
Despite these bodily woes, not every massage has to be a treatment of a problem. Massage just feels good and you don’t have to have a problem per se to benefit from it. Some people wait for the stress or pain to build up before they come in for massage, fearing they won’t get as much out of the experience otherwise. Don’t wait for it to build up.
Whether you are receiving massage in a spa or in a clinic, many of the massage manipulations you receive are based on spurring the body’s natural relaxation response. Muscle tension eases. You’re horizontal and you don’t have to do anything but enjoy an hour’s vacation from the mundane routines that propel us in our overstimulated society. Relax. Let go. And go get a massage.
Bonus tip. Book several massage appointments right now, creating an opportunity for you to tune out, drop out, and bliss out on a regular basis. You deserve no less.
October 1, 2013
Few jobs out there are not only financially rewarding, but personally rewarding as well. One of these such jobs is one we’ll discuss in this article. It’s one that you could learn to do as a hobby to have your friends and/or significant others love you, or you could do it to make lucrative income from it.
Either way, when you know how to be a massage therapist, good things happen.
You see, there’s a slew of benefits that come with learning how to give massages. You give people all kinds of gifts, including:
-Help people recover from (or prepare for) strenuous workouts. This is an amazing gift to share – one that people very much appreciate.
Improve the condition of the skin. Being that skin is our largest organ, you can only imagine the benefits that occur from this.
Enhance joint flexibility.
Lessens depression and anxiety – This alone is well worth giving a massage. How nice is it to do something natural versus taking commonly prescribed pills?
Improve circulation – massages help flow oxygen and nutrients in through your tissues and vital organs.
Relieves migraine pain – again, fantastic for not having to deal with commonly prescribed medication.
Promotes new tissue generation (including lessening scar tissue and stretch marks). Tell this to any woman and see how quickly she wants her massage.
As you can see, there are tons of benefits in learning how to be a massage therapist – or even just learning how to do it for your loved ones.
September 24, 2013
If you look at each one as a separate entity, massage therapy and fitness may appear to be two quite different concepts. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear massage therapy falls within the broader concept of fitness, and that massage therapy and fitness can work hand in hand to improve overall health and wellness.
To fully grasp the way massage therapy and fitness are connected and can work so well together, one may first need to understand the broader concept of fitness. Too many people may have a narrow view of fitness, one that includes only such active pursuits as lifting weights or running every morning.
The larger perspective on fitness includes more relaxing and passive pursuits as well. Fitness can entail such things as watching what you eat and creating a healthy daily diet, along with stretching, getting plenty of sleep and doing activities such as yoga or dance. Within this larger perspective on fitness, we can begin to see where massage therapy fits in as well.
Massage therapy could be considered a key piece of fitness due to the fact massage sessions have been linked to improved health. The health benefits of massage therapy may range from decreased mental tension and lower blood pressure to greater range of motion and fewer physical aches and pains. Of course, there are many other potential benefits of massage therapy, which may be related to the type of massage one receives.
For example, a person who suffers from headaches may find that a certain massage technique reduces the frequency of those headaches. For another person, lower back pain may be a chronic problem that lessens with regular massage. For those people who have neck-and-shoulder pain associated with daily computer work, massage therapy can help alleviate those issues as well.
As you can see, massage therapy has a broad reach as far as the various issues and conditions it can address in an effort to better a person’s health and his or her ability to function optimally. It is not hard to make the link between these benefits and the overall notion of fitness, because massage therapy can serve to boost a person’s health and wellness, which is the aim of most fitness pursuits.
There are also more specific connections between massage therapy and fitness. For example, one common reason people may seek massage is because of aches and pains caused by an intense fitness activity or even due to an injury sustained during a fitness pursuit.
To take this example a bit further, it is necessary to grasp the wear and tear that intense fitness regimens can place on the body. For instance, a person who runs nearly every day and participates in marathons and other such events will experience wear and tear on the whole body, from the leg and back muscles to the neck and joints. However, with regular massage therapy sessions, such damage can be mitigated, which can help the fitness enthusiast prevent possible injuries.
Source: Massage Magazine
September 20, 2013
The Massage Therapy Foundation is always looking for new research that is helpful for massage therapists.
This month we are reporting on “The Effects of Massage Therapy on Pain Management in the Acute Care Setting,” published in the March 2010 issue of the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
The authors of this publication, Adams and colleagues, suggest pain management within the acute care setting is a focus of empirical study by researchers, healthcare facilities and accreditation organizations throughout the United States. Previous studies have shown that high levels of stress and anxiety increase pain, and delay hospital patients’ recovery by limiting movement and self-care activities, while also reducing quality of sleep. In the hospital setting, stress is due to factors such as excessive noise, social isolation and pain from procedures. In fact, in the acute care setting, clinical procedures are often the only time patients receive touch.
Literature indicates massage therapy is the complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) treatment most often prescribed by physicians that is beneficial without adverse effects. Because massage therapy may be effective in reducing pain through the gate control theory, as well as the relaxation response, it may also play a role in psychological healing along with physical healing. Adams and colleagues conducted this study in the acute healthcare setting to examine the impact of massage therapy on pain and well-being. To account for both psychological and physical effects, the authors included quantitative and qualitative methods.
The study recruited 65 inpatients in various hospital units, admitted between October 1, 2006 and March 31, 2007, at a hospital in a large rural area in the southwest United States. Study inclusion requirements included a physician order for massage, as well as the ability of the patient or a family member to provide consent. Additionally, feedback about the massage and return of a qualitative survey after hospital discharge were collected.
Three licensed massage therapists employed by the hospital provided massage. Each was trained in working with hospitalized or medically frail patients. The massage sessions were 15 to 45 minute sessions given to patients at bedside. The session length varied depending on the patient’s energy level and availability. Techniques used included effleurage, petrissage, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, cross-fiber friction and pressure point therapy. The head, neck, shoulders, back and feet were areas most commonly massaged depending on the patient’s needs, with patients either supine or in side-lying position. Contraindication for massage sites included areas of injury, surgery or intravenous lines.
Patients indicated their levels of pain before and after receiving massage using a visual analog scale (VAS). The VAS consists of a horizontal line with “0″ at 1 end and “10″ at the other, with 0 indicating no pain and 10 indicating severe pain. At the completion of the patient’s last session, a survey was given asking about length of hospital stay, number of massages received and the impact of the massage on overall pain levels, emotional well-being, ability to move, ability to participate in therapies, relaxation, ability to sleep and recovery. Additionally, participants were asked if they thought massage therapy had an effect on their need for pain medication, how long the effects of the massage had lasted and whether they planned to continue using massage therapy as part of their healing process. An open-ended inquiry at the end of the survey encouraged participants to comment freely about massage. These results, along with demographic data, number of massage sessions and nursing comments were also analyzed.
Of the initial 65 participants, 53 completed the research project. Most participants received one massage, many received two to three massages, and a few received more than three massages. Sessions lasted between 15 and 45 minutes with most being about 30 minutes. The pre-massage pain levels had a mean score of 5.18 on the VAS and the post-massage mean score was 2.33, indicating that the pain level decreased by more than half. The effects of the massage lasted one to four hours for most participants. Some felt they lasted four to eight hours and a few felt they lasted anywhere from eight to over 24 hours. No negative effects from the massage were reported by the participants. The results of the survey included significant reduction in overall pain and need for pain medication as well as an increase in emotional well-being, relaxation and ability to sleep. Over two-thirds of the participants said they planned to continue using massage therapy as part of their healing process.
The results of the study are promising. According to the article, “The fact that patients throughout the various hospital units, with a wide variety of pre-massage pain levels, experienced relaxation through massage therapy indicates the true potential for massage to support healing for hospitalized patients.” Additionally, massage therapy relieved the sense of isolation the patients felt. Because so many participants reported increased emotional well-being, the authors suggest it is possible it could be due to the need for compassionate human touch.
Study limitations included only participation by those adults with health status that allowed them to receive massage and to complete the study paperwork. Patients whose energy or pain levels prevented them from participating may have provided information indicating other results. Another limitation is that physiological indicators of pain such as heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels were not collected. Finally, a minimal sample size was used with no control group; mainly due to the additional cost this would have incurred.
As researchers in the field continue to pursue understanding the role of massage in pain management, massage therapists can leverage these research findings to promote the need for skilled touch in hospitals to help patients heal. Adams and colleagues suggest, “The further integration of CIM therapies such as massage into the hospital offers the possibility to improve the experience for patients who face physical, psychological, and social challenges in an unfamiliar environment.”
As health care systems continue to transform, it is possible that massage therapy will be more widely recognized as essential for patients in the acute care setting. Moving forward massage therapists can reference this work and other research on pain management in the healthcare setting to support the use of massage in the clinical care environment. To learn more about the effects of massage therapy, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation article archives, read accepted MTF Research Grant summaries, or search PubMed for massage therapy studies.
Source: Massage Today
September 17, 2013
A recent study validates the benefits of massage on arthritis.
A new study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine and published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal supports what bodywork therapists have known for years: Massage can help alleviate the painful and debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
For the study, 42 adults suffering from RA in the upper limbs were randomly divided into two groups. Both groups received massage therapy once a week for four weeks and were taught self-massage techniques to be performed daily. But one group received light pressure massage and the other, moderate pressure. At the end of the four weeks, the group that had received moderate pressure reported reduced pain and increased flexibility and strength in affected areas: wrists, elbows and shoulders. Both groups noticed decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“As patients with rheumatoid arthritis work with their doctors to determine the best treatment options, we recommend discussing routine massage therapy,” says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., who led the study. “In addition to physical activity such as yoga, moderate pressure massage therapy, along with self-massage techniques, can help manage the pain and stress that results from various forms of arthritis.”
The study was performed with support from the Massage Envy chain, which also partnered with the Arthritis Foundation (AF) in 2011 to help raise funds and awareness for the organization, and is sponsoring the Foundation’s 250 Arthritis Walk events taking place now through November in 130 cities around the country.
“Walking is a proven way to keep joints healthy and gain support in your community,” says Cindy McDaniel, vice president of consumer health, Arthritis Foundation. “We hope that families across the nation will join us as we raise funds to find a cure.”
The AF reports that one in every five adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. are afflicted with some form of arthritis, and it is the nation’s leading cause of disability. To learn more, visit the Foundation’s website at arthritis.org.
Source: Day Spa Magazine
September 10, 2013
For those who seek a big-picture view of overall health and wellness, it is important to include the regular use of massage therapy as an integral part of true fitness. After all, fitness is not just the strength of one’s muscles, a percentage of body fat, cardiovascular power and mental clarity. Fitness also includes the health and wellness of all the body’s systems, as well as one’s mental and emotional state–and massage therapy has much to contribute in these respects.
Therefore, when it comes to creating overall fitness—fitness that is present both inside and outside the body, from head to toe—one must consider the value of massage therapy for achieving this goal. It may help to think of massage therapy and big-picture fitness as two sides of the same coin, with that coin being overall health and wellness. As you consider this notion, you should begin to see how massage therapy can serve to complement and bolster nearly any aspect of fitness.
For example, consider the common view or stereotype of fitness as a man with a lean and muscular body. This man most likely lifts weights, performs cardio sessions and eats healthy foods on a regular basis. Now, by bringing massage therapy into the equation, this man could also help his muscles and joints stay in the best possible shape, recover from tough workouts in less time and better prevent potential injuries. As you can see with this example, massage therapy and muscle building can go hand in hand to help create optimal fitness.
Another common notion of fitness might be the cardiovascular powerhouse—perhaps a long-distance marathon runner, bicyclist or other type of endurance athlete. These people work hard to build their cardiovascular systems in order to achieve faster speeds or longer periods of activity. This type of fitness typically involves repetitive sessions of cardiovascular training.
In this scenario, the benefits of bringing massage therapy into the picture are similar to the previous example, due to the fact that cardiovascular training also has an impact on the body’s muscles and joints. Fortunately, regular massage therapy sessions can help reduce the negative side effects that could come about as a result of intense cardiovascular training. For example, the woman who runs many miles nearly every day would be wise to receive massage on a consistent basis, to keep her legs and hips and entire body functioning optimally.
Essentially, one might think of massage therapy as a vital component of the rest and recovery every athlete needs in order to reach his or her maximum potential in the chosen form of fitness, whether it be lifting weights, participating in triathlons or simply maintaining the ability to move with ease and grace in order to prevent potential injury.
The bottom line is massage therapy can contribute to that big picture of fitness by keeping the body’s muscles and joints in good shape, speeding the recovery of overworked areas and helping to prevent or rehabilitate any injuries.
Source: Massage Magazine
September 6, 2013
Stress and anxiety is a large part of life for children and whether its family or school issues, combating anxiety can be tricky. Fortunately, there are a number of options, including pediatric massage therapy.
Numerous studies have documented the effects of touch therapies, including the positive benefits it offers in dealing with emotional and academic anxiety.
At the heart of anxiety is worry. This is the central characteristic and causes a level of excessive concern about real or imagined situations. A child may have anxiety about a big test coming up (real), but also may be worried about what to wear to school in fear they may be teased (imagined). When worrying gets to an excessive point and begins to interfere with the child’s life, treatment can become necessary. The hard part about diagnosing and treating anxiety is that it manifests itself in many different ways through behavioral, intellectual and physical reactions.
How Early Does Anxiety Begin?
Normally, anxiety presents itself around seven to nine months old, and is exhibited by “stranger anxiety,” meaning the infant will become upset around new people. This “stranger anxiety” signals the child’s cognitive development when children begin to discriminate among people. The next development stage happens around 12 to 18 months when children begin to exhibit separation anxiety while parents try to go to dinner or run an errand. This stage normally works itself out by the age of two. Both of these periods are important indicators that our children are developing as normal.
By the age of eight, children begin to shift their focus to specific, identifiable events (animals, monsters under our beds, etc.) and focus more on less specific concerns like grades or making and keeping friends. As the child begins to grow into adolescence, they begin to worry about a host of additional issues such as sexuality and moral issues, which can all lead to increased levels of anxiety.
How does Anxiety Affect Children?
So, now that we know how anxiety grows within our children, it is important to know the types of anxiety that can affect them. Separation anxiety is not limited to children 12 to 18 months old, but can be influenced by parental relationships and more commonly bullying. The child could refuse to go to school due to the bullying or a school phobia. A generalized anxiety disorder is experienced by children who may have excessive anxiety about a variety of things with no specific cause.
While commonly associated with returning soldiers, children can fall into the post-traumatic stress disorder category if they experienced a traumatic event such as domestic abuse, losing a loved one, experiencing a natural disaster or sexual assault. These events cause high levels of anxiety due to reliving the experience, as well as flashbacks.
Social phobia disorder is seen in children who have excessive fear of being in social situations like crowds or groups. Lastly, obsessive-compulsive disorder includes repetitive thoughts (obsessions), an unending desire to repeat specific acts or placing objects in the same arrangement (compulsions).
How can Pediatric Massage Help?
Massage can help facilitate one-on-one time between a parent and child fostering a relationship that will grow stronger. Starting in infancy, a parent can begin to massage their child, which forges a stronger bond and increases communication. Pediatric massage, when caregiver administered, can give you time to sit down and discuss the child’s day or any anxiety they may have. Studies have shown children and adults who receive massage experience diminished anxiety during academic stress, hospital stays and other potential anxiety related events.
Just as massage can be given by parents, many pediatric massage therapists work with children experiencing anxiety. Keep in mind, that just the thought of leaving their home to come in for a massage may cause them anxiety. Pediatric massage is not meant to cause further anxiety, but our hope is that it may benefit the child by relieving some of their stress.
Pediatric Massage Tips
Before the session, decide with the parent’s guidance whether the session should be in your setting or theirs. Coming to a new location can be anxiety provoking for many people. If the session will be in your environment, help prepare the child for coming to a new location by sending pictures of your setting beforehand to the parents. You can email them to the parent so they can show them to child to help make them more comfortable.
Always, as with any pediatric massage session, ask permission before you begin and check in frequently. This could include giving the child ways to communicate their likes and dislikes in a passive fashion, such as using “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”
Especially at the first session, but every time if necessary, do not ask the child to disrobe to their comfort level. Body image and concern of “what others will think of me” are often causes of anxiety. There is no reason that massage must be performed skin-to-skin. Many clients benefit from a gentle touch over their T-Shirt.
Take your time with transitions and always be consistent. If possible, work together with the family to keep the same time, place and routine. Creating a consistent massage time for a child can help to create routine, stability and provide calm that just might keep anxiety at bay.
Source: Massage Today
September 3, 2013
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Anyone who has received a massage following a few days of intense physical activity most likely knows the massage therapy experience is different when your body is sore versus when you receive massage following several days of rest and relaxation. Even though massage therapy almost always feels good, some people seem to prefer or value their massages more when they take place at a time when the body is aching.
It seems there may be inherent wisdom to the concept of enjoying a massage more when your muscles are tight and tense. Going to get a massage after intense fitness pursuits not only feels great, but it can also be great for your health. Therefore, the fact so many people’s thoughts turn toward massage after engaging in fitness events appears to be an all-around positive trend.
Next time you are feeling the effects of an intense week of fitness activity, do not fight the inclination to book an appointment for massage therapy. Your mind and body may be telling you that a massage is the necessary counterbalance to all that fitness-oriented work you have been doing. In fact, a quality massage session can actually help to speed healing and recovery after days of fitness pursuits have broken the body down.
For example, your fitness routine may include cardiovascular exercise, such as running or jumping rope, along with resistance training, such as performing body weight-based exercises or using weights and machines. This combined fitness focus on cardiovascular and muscular health is quite common, perhaps because it can be a great all-around fitness routine.
However, while engaging in cardiovascular and muscular fitness protocols is wonderful in terms of boosting respiratory health, shedding body fat and building lean muscle mass, such fitness pursuits also take a toll on the body. This is what you feel when you wake up with aching muscles or a body that is drained of vital energy. At this point, instead of gearing up to take on another day of intense fitness routines, turn your attention to massage therapy.
The point here is you can learn to listen to your body, so that you know when it may be time to balance the intensity of your fitness schedule with the rest and recovery of a much needed massage. The danger of not listening to your body when it is aching or tired, or both, is you may go about your fitness routine as usual and end up with an overuse injury.
For fitness enthusiasts who participate in competitive events, such as races or sports matches, the risk of skipping out on the restorative benefits of consistent rest periods and regular massage appointments may be that your performance suffers. After all, it is hard to perform at the top of your game when your muscles and joints hurt, your range of motion is limited and your energy levels are low.
Source: Massage Magazine