Many adult athletes recognize an regularly use massage for the muscular benefits it can provide. Encouraging oxygen and nutrients to reach the muscles more efficiently, boosts muscle development, growth and repair. While it cannot prevent injury it can improve muscle conditioning thereby reducing the risk of any damage. Yet I am still to meet any athletic children who use massage as a means of looking after themselves (other than my son that is).
My 12 year old son is an avid football player and spends at least 10 hours training and competing a week, not to mention the kick abouts with friends after school and at the weekend. I have always encouraged sport as a method of providing health and fitness for my kids and presumed my son to be in excellent shape. However upon starting my training as a massage therapist I used him to practice leg and foot massages on and discovered him to be overly toned and in actual fact lacking flexibility as a result of his tight muscles. To say I was surprised was an understatement. There is a tendency to assume that active kids are naturally supple and their energy and strength never ending. What I found with my son was quite the contrary. It has been a learning curve for both of us as he was also unaware of how strongly his legs were contracting.
I could only use very light pressure to start with and for limited time periods, this gradually increased as improvements developed. It has taken a lot of time and hard work to get his legs to relax properly. He can now recognize tension himself and can act upon it using stretching exercises and regular massage.
These days I use treatments for him as maintenance, he thoroughly enjoys the sessions and feels the benefit, finding his legs stronger and more flexible which assists his physical capabilities as a young athlete. This reinforces his new found understanding of what it means to be self aware and how important it is to look after himself. Not only is the massage nourishing his muscles, it is also easing muscle spasms which may be restricting joint movement and is getting nutrients to the bones. The experience has been nothing but positive for my son and I am 100% sure that he will continue to use massage into his adult life as a means of maintaining his wellbeing.