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Benefits of Massage for Children with Special Needs

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

Are they hyperactive or do they suffer from high or low body tone?

Have you ever tried a simple foot or body massage on your little live-wire to relax them? Let me share with you some beneficial effects of massage on the body.

I’ve found massage to be a lovely bonding experience with my children, using a simple massage lotion or any plain body cream I have to hand.

I also love my essential oils, for instance I use pure lavender oil diluted with a carrier of coconut oil (and many other homemade concoctions!)

Massage is SO therapeutic and relaxing.

Why- because science has shown that even a few gentle strokes causes the brain to release endorphins (the body’s natural opiates, to give a ‘high’ feeling) as well as the production of oxytocin, which gives us a nurturing and loving feeling.

Interestingly enough, both the recipient, and the giver of the massage will experience a release of oxytocin!

I’m going to briefly outline a few of the body’s systems and the positive effects massage can have:

Muscular skeletal system- Increase flexibility, improve muscle tone, reduce cramps, improve posture, and improve mobility and range of movement.

The benefits of massaging muscles can be described as the 3‘t’s: releasing tightness, tension and toxins.

Digestive system- Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to switch digestion back on (opposite of ‘stress response’) and speeds up elimination of waste products from body- alleviating constipation.

Endocrine system- Counteracts the negative effects of adrenaline, bringing body back to a state of homeostasis and balancing the hormones, the release of endorphins and oxytocin as previously mentioned which gives us a positive high feeling.

Respiratory system- Encourages deeper breathing by relaxing the body, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and improving posture, and improves gaseous exchange throughout the body.

Lymphatic system- Assists with the drainage of lymph from the cells, improving removal of toxins from our bodies, boosts immunity as it stimulates production of lymphocytes (antibodies), reduces oedema (swelling).

Pain control- Can mask pain by giving a pleasurable massage as these positive nerve messages travel quicker than painful ones (pain gate control theory).

By reducing pain and increasing feelings of general well-being and relaxation, you can encourage more restful sleeping.

Psychological – Gives us a feeling of wellbeing, a lovely bonding experience between parent and child, allows us to ‘switch off’ unwind and be at peace, calming the mind and body, preparing body for a deeper night’s sleep

I really encourage you to look at doing a simple foot massage before bedtime or during the ‘afternoon slump’ to relax and calm your little one.

There are many online and local courses in baby and all sorts of massage available, too.

You won’t regret any time spent in massage once you see the many benefits first-hand!


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