Body Sense

Spring | 2014

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Body Sense 3 I'm writing this after a night when I was awakened by my 2-year-old at 4:00 a.m. He was pointing to his legs and saying, "Ow! Ow!" His first growing pains were here. WHAT ARE GROWING PAINS? The childhood leg aches that we call "growing pains" are normal, though nobody knows exactly why they happen. They most often happen at night when the body is calm after a very active day. Not every child gets them, and the painful episode is usually over by morning. The massage therapist in me feels that it may be a little inflammation cycle that kids experience after a hard day of play or athletics. For instance, my son likes to climb, jump, and tumble—all day long and usually every day. I experienced growing pains periodically throughout my adolescence. I remember how my legs ached intensely and how my joints throbbed. At times, the aches were so intense I was sure I had some sort of disease. "Is there such a thing as a leg-falling-off disease?" I asked my mother. Little did I know that massage could help soothe these pains, or that some day I would use it to soothe my own son. "I'M HAPPY, MAMA" Learning infant massage has helped me in many situations, and it has continued to be useful past my child's infancy. I credit it with decreasing the length of my hospital stay for my firstborn, and since then, infant massage strokes have helped with childhood tummy aches, chest and sinus congestion, school-day jitters, and more. At 4:00 a.m., I put on my robe and gently ease my son's legs from his PJs. I cover the rest of his body with his favorite blanket and then warm lotion between my hands. The familiar swish-swish of the lotion brings a smile to his face as he anticipates the massage to come. As my pressure meets his pain, he sighs and says, "I'm happy, Mama." He repeats his sweet thank- yous in his tired, little voice. I smile and the Ease Growing Pains With Infant Massage By Gina Michelle weariness from lack of sleep fades away; it's just a quiet moment between him and me. I use the strokes I learned in a workshop on infant massage: the Indian milking stroke, the squeeze and twist, the rolling leg stroke. I follow my intuition and choose petrissage and compression strokes that get to the deeper muscle fibers and aid in circulation. I even throw in Thai yoga-inspired strokes that bring gentle traction to the joints. Before I'm finished with the first leg, my baby boy has fallen into the lovely realm that hovers just above sleep. He is still conscious enough to tell me how the touch feels. As I start on his other leg, he has fallen into a light sleep. His breathing turns into a soft snore as I finish the massage. It only took 25 minutes, but our experience felt longer, sweeter. A NEW DAY Later that morning, my son skipped into the kitchen with his sunny good morning greeting and said to me, "Mama, I am a new boy! I love you!" He gave me a hug and ran off pretending to be a heavy-footed dinosaur. Now that's great feedback, wouldn't you agree? B S Gina Michelle is a registered massage therapist of 13 years and former instructor at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy and Denver School of Massage Therapy. Owner of Malama Massage Therapy in Fort Collins, Colorado, she is building her practice again while raising three young children. She is best known for her lomilomi, prenatal, postpartum, and private infant massage instruction. Resources Dowshen, Steven, MD, ed. "Growing Pains." Accessed March 2014. Available at http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/aches/growing_pains. html#. McClure, Vimala Schneider. Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents (Bantam, 2000). Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Harris, Sally S., MD, MPH. "Parent & Teachers: Growing Pains." Accessed March 2014. Available at www. pamf.org/parenting-teens/health/specific-conditions/growingpains.html.

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