Many parents are seeking out deep tissue and sports massage for their children. They have seen the benefits in their own bodies and want their children to experience the same benefits for themselves.
Many people think children are immune from tight muscles and scar tissue build up. Why do they think this? Because children are invincible, right?!
Children, especially children athletes, experience all the aches and pains their adult counterparts do. Over training, lack of rest, lack of stretching, all combined with explosive movements can cause the most resilient child athlete to injure themselves.
Many adults use massage therapy as a preventative measure. They want to keep their body properly tuned up so they prevent injuries. Many child athletes often receive their first massage only after they have experienced some form on injury or pain. The trick is to continue the deep tissue massages on a regular basis in order to prevent future problems.
If you have decided you want to schedule a deep tissue or sports massage for your child athlete, here are some things to consider.
Find a therapist who has experience working with athletes and doing sports massage. If they already have experience working with children athletes that is much better. There are certain skills of communication and patience which are necessary when working with children. You must find a therapist who can devote extra time for the massage (non hands-on time) towards speaking with the child, helping them feel comfortable with their massage and understand some of the basic components of a massage.
It is important for the child to understand what is going to be happening throughout the massage, what kind of sensations they can expect (pain, pressure, ache, stretch, etc.), and most importantly, that they are in charge of the session and their bodies. If they are uncomfortable, they have the right to speak up and say no.
An adult must be present for the entire duration of the massage. This is for the protection of the child and massage therapist. Having a parent or guardian present during the massage helps the child understand they have someone "powerful" watching out for their best interest. Many athletic organizations that involve children have this guideline as well. It is a fundamental guideline for providing deep tissue and sports massage for children athletes.
There will be an excessive amount of communication and explanation. It is vitally important for the child and adult to understand what is happening to the child's body during the massage. There is constant checking in with the child to make sure they are not trying to appease the massage therapist by not expressing their pain. There is a large problem with children not wanting to disappoint an adult, which leads to the child thinking they are doing something wrong if they tell the sports massage therapist the pressure is too much.
Also, there are reasons certain areas of the body should be massaged for the child athlete, areas which are uncommon for them. Besides the common areas associated with massage, such as the back and legs, other areas may need to be worked on. These areas can include the upper portion of the chest, the gluteal (butt) region and areas of the body responsible for hip rotation and flexion. These can be extremely sensitive areas due to tension and due to the strangeness of being touched in those areas. Permission from the child and adult is always received before massage is performed on those areas. I will constantly communicate with the child throughout the deep tissue massage session in order to let them know exactly what is going to happen next. This may seem excessive at times, but it has proven to be the most effective method of relaxing and reassuring the child.
I hope this post helps clarify what to expect when getting a deep tissue or sports massage for your child. Remember to help explain what to expect to your child before their massage. Joking with them about how much the massage will hurt is not helpful. Instead, address some of their concerns and remind them they are in charge of the session and you will be there with them the entire time.
If you're in the Central Florida area and want to get some great deep tissue massage or sports massage for yourself or traveling team or performance company get in touch with me through the Contact page and set something up.
Have a Great Day!
-Michael Ames, LMT
Deep Tissue & Sports Massage Specialist