Massage is often viewed as something only older individuals require. Some occasionally think of young people, but only if they are athletes coping with overworked muscles. The truth is, massage therapy has benefits for everyone regardless of age.
Theraputic massage not only relaxes muscles, it can help with depression, anxiety, and stress – things that have become all too common for young people today.
Massage dates back to ancient times. The oldest known book on massage was written in 3,000 BCE in China. Writings including hieroglyphics in Egypt appear to show massage techniques in 2,500 BCE. So today’s massage therapists have a huge volume of history to draw upon.
Massage Therapy: How Young Is Too Young?
Most professionals agree, there is no lower age limit on massage. Even babies benefit from the occasional gentle rub-down, working those growing muscles. Typically the only difference between younger and older people is the duration: a child may need fifteen minutes of work, while a full-grown adult is better served with forty or fifty minutes.
What Can Massage Do For Growing Bodies?
Muscle and bone grow continuously until adulthood. But often these two tissues don’t grow at the same rate. This is why some young people experience neck and back pain: the bones may not grow as quickly as the muscle, which causes spinal bones to get pulled apart slightly by muscle mass. A gentle massage or stretch therapy can relax these muscles as they develop.
Young people lead stressful and busy lives. As with older individuals, a massage can ease the day’s stresses. And massage has been linked with improvements to the immune system, so it may contribute to keeping young people healthy.
Here are just a few of the benefits of massage on growing bodies:
- Massage improves the immune system by improving circulation through the lymphatic system.
- It improves blood circulation, helping to feed growing muscles and bones.
- A gentle massage relieves stress.
- It improves socialization in young people, as it gives them regular physical contact. In fact, children and young people can learn to massage each other, improving the bonds between them.
- It improves sleep, something young people often struggle with.
Caveats: What Should You Be Careful Of?
For a healthy person of any age, massage may be beneficial. But there are potential issues to be aware of. Some medical conditions can be problematic for massage. An individual with any swelling or fever should not be massaged. Also, those with diabetes should avoid it. If your child has any condition you are concerned about, consult your doctor before enrolling your child in massage therapy.
Enrolling A Child Or Young Person In Massage Therapy
Some therapists may not wish to take on a younger individual, so check be sure to ask up front. You as the parent will likely be required to sign a consent form. Also, typically a massage therapist of the same gender will be assigned to work with your child. If you have any questions for your child’s massage therapist, the time to ask is before his or her first session. Massage is intended to be relaxing; it’s important that you be relaxed and comfortable as well.