Notes: Excerpts from: Children and Massage…A Powerful Combination. Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring 2003. By Shirley Vanderbilt Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Massage is a wonderful stress-buster for children.
A young child starting school who is unfamiliar with the area or children in the class will experience stress. Family illness or financial problems, divorce and even vacations can produce emotional strain.
Touch is the first sense to develop in humans. It is essential to our health and well-being. Babies have been known to fail to thrive and even die without an adequate amount of physical contact. Adults, as well, can become depressed and ill if they are isolated from this most basic of human needs. Children who learn healthy views of touch and are provided with positive tactile experience by their caregivers are more likely to grow up to be adults with healthy self-esteem, a sense of appropriate boundaries and long-lasting intimate relationships.
Hernandez-Reif, of The Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Fla. notes that one of the consistent findings in studies of the benefits of massage therapy is a reduction in stress and stress hormone levels: “There is a relationship between stress and the immune system. If stress hormones are chronically elevated, the [hormone] cortisol will destroy the healthy immune cells that fight viruses and tumors and keep the immune system healthy. If you can reverse that, you not only reduce stress but also reduce stress hormones, allowing the immune system to bounce back and do its job, which is to heal the body and keep it healthy.”
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