Embracing Infant Massage as a key wellness tool for families
Do concepts such as holistic bodywork, mind-body connection, psycho-social-spiritual ever lose their value as trends in wellness evolve and shift? Does it ever become redundant to revisit and reiterate the therapeutic benefits of massage to a population of natural health care providers? Therapeutic benefits which are constant, regardless of social convention or trend. Massage therapy is an invaluable treatment option and is known to relax soft tissue and increase extensibility, improve immunity, increase circulation thereby reducing ischemia and edema. Additionally, massage therapy can help reduce stress and enable an internal environment conducive to restoring the psyche.
The effects massage may be especially beneficial to the infant population, thus revisiting and reiterating its merit may, indeed, be purposeful, as this knowledge and demonstration of technique is an invaluable patient education and empowerment tool, since most infant massage is performed by parents versus practitioners. Infant massage may be employed to enhance neurological and cognitive development, reduce muscle tugs associated with bone growth, relieve colic, and facilitate restful sleep. Additionally, massage therapy reduces cortisol levels, which boosts immunity via the proliferation of natural killer cells, helps prevent afflictions such as childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and also reduce pain in conditions, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
For children with special needs, such as those with Downs Syndrome or cerebral palsy, proactive massage may be beneficial in improving muscle tone, thereby reducing the progression of muscle atrophy and contracture, maintain flexibility and joint range of motion, and relieving digestive disorders, common to this population of children.
Infant massage courses, sometimes referred to as Babyssage, are available not only to health care professionals who would like to incorporate this tool into practice, but also to lay persons, such as parents and caregivers who would learn how to access and apply the benefits of massage therapy to enhance the quality of daily living for themselves and their children. Special considerations must be made with respect to pacing and pressure; it is also important to maintain eye contact and respect the infant as a cognitive being who will provide feedback regarding the treatment, though some of the cues may be non-verbal.
LaPlante C. Tender touch: Infant massage helps babies find the connections that help them grow. MTJ. 45:4.Winter 2006.