Adolescence is a unique stage of life. In between childhood and adulthood, teens go through massive changes on both a physiological and a psychological level. Naturally, this means that teens also have unique health and wellness issues. While nothing replaces regular physical exams with a physician, massage therapy can be a valuable component of a teen’s health and wellness. Here are three different issues often occurring as a youth that massage helps:
1. Poor body image and eating disorders.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3% of American teens suffer from an eating disorder, and the majority of them go untreated. Depression, social pressures, and participation in sports that value leanness (such as gymnastics and wrestling), can lead to eating disorders. Needless to say, high school provides a lot of opportunities for all of these.
Studies done at the Touch Research Institute with women who struggle with an eating disorder showed that regular massage decreased anxiety levels. Massage also increased levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine, and reduced depression scores. Participants in the study also showed better scores on the Eating Disorder Inventory, indicating better body awareness. While counseling is obviously of paramount importance, massage therapy can be a powerful addition to other forms of treatment.
2. PMS and menstrual pain.
What’s worse than period problems? Period problems when you’re a teenager. Between the irregular cycles, the inexperience with managing symptoms, and the embarrassment about getting help, high school can be a rough time to have a uterus. Effective treatments like hormonal birth control can have negative social connotations. It requires a pelvic exam to obtain, a procedure that most teens have yet to experience and may wish to avoid.
Massage therapy has been shown to help with pain, anxiety, and feelings of depression related to PMS, as well as other symptoms like water retention. Girls can also benefit from learning self-massage techniques to use when experiencing menstrual cramps on a day-to-day basis.
3. Athletic injuries.
High school athletes get injuries at around the same rate as professional athletes. But their growing bodies mean that they’re often injured in different ways. Since bones grow before muscles and tendons do, youth are more susceptible to muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries. Sprains, strains, growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illnesses are among the most common injuries among teen athletes. Boys are most likely to experience athletic injuries while playing ice hockey, rugby, and soccer. Soccer, basketball, and gymnastics lead to the most injuries in girls.
Sports massage has a long history and can be especially effective when dealing with repetitive motion injuries. Massage therapists are now found at every kind of sporting event, from the Olympics all the way down to your local 10K. Given that teen athletes can be more vulnerable to injury than adults, it makes sense to offer them the same opportunities for healing and pain relief.
Do you know a teen who could use a massage? Let them know they can schedule with us online!