A lot of people see massage as a relaxation treatment, but it is also therapy and can be very beneficial to children and teens, as well as adults. Children tend to recover from injuries faster than adults, but as they develop and grow, injuries can result. Growth spurts put stress and pressure on structures, especially on children and teens who are active in sports. As the child grows, the bones grow at a quicker rate than muscles and tendons, causing tight muscles, and a decrease in flexibility. Bones tend to be weak because they are not fully ossified.
Orthopaedic injuries associated with growing athletes include:
- Muscle strains
- Osgood-Schlatter disorder
- Growth plate disorders
- Avulsion injuries
Massage therapy helps to loosen and lengthen muscles to help treat or prevent these injuries. The treatment may also include: stretching exercises to increase range of motion, retraining of movement patterns to take the strain off injured structures, strengthening exercises, instructions for home care and returning safely to the activity, proper warm up before activity.
A major cause of injuries in young athletes is overtraining and specializing in one sport. Starting from a young age, competitive athletes may spend 15-25 hours a week, year round, training for their sport. This includes rep soccer, hockey, and lacrosse players, dancers, figure skaters, and gymnasts. Just like adults, children get tight muscles from spending so much time competing and training, and massage can be very beneficial to treat and prevent injuries. A tight muscle doesn’t function properly. Add that to a growing body, and pain and injury can occur.
Your child doesn’t need to be so active to need a massage. Medical experts have recently come up with the term “text neck” to describe pain in the upper back and neck from constantly looking down at your phone. This condition starts in the teenage years. We will be covering postural injuries in a later blog.
If you have any questions about whether massage may be beneficial to your child, please don’t hesitate to call the clinic at 905-220-7858.
Written by Madeleine Hunter
Certified Athletic Therapist, Registered Massage Therapist
Reference: Dutton, Mark. Dutton’s Orthopaedic Examination, Evaluation and Intervention, 2012