Growing pains are common in childhood. It can affect both boys and girls. However, the term -”growing pains”- can be deceiving. The intense sensation a child goes through does not necessarily come from what the term implies. In fact, the majority of children that experiences it are the ones that tend to play hard. Jumping, running, banging their legs, and falling around tends to play a significant role. Children’s legs get a very intense workout when they are having a lot of fun.
At night is when a parent will find out whether or not their child is prone to it. If your child gets growing pains, not to worry. Learning specific techniques for massaging your child’s legs will help your child rest better at night.
Target areas to focus massage are:
- The outside of the lower legs
- The inside of the lower legs
- The Border of the shin bone in front of the lower leg
- The calf muscle
- The lower thigh
Be very mindful not to manipulate the knee (patella) itself. This can be a very sensitive area.
A nice routine would be, before going to bed, have your child take a nice warm bath or shower to wash off the day, but more importantly, to warm up those muscles.
Prepare a cream or base oil (olive oil will work just fine), and add lavender essential oil with the unscented cream or oil. When your child is done with that nice refreshing bath and has his/her PJs on, massage the legs around those target areas. Use just enough pressure to get the muscles and nervous system to respond. However, be mindful that your pressure is not too (or overly) intense. The intention is to help your children to relax and rest throughout the night.
Start with an effleurage (gliding motion) to prepare the skin, muscle groups, and other tissue for more detailed massage techniques. This is like an your introduction or saying “hello” to the area you are about to massage. As you effleurage, pay attention and notice if you feel anything out of the ordinary like knots, heat, or coolness.
“Just to be sure, ask your child if he / she had any major injury that would have resulted in a sprain, strain, broken bones or deep cuts. If the skin feels very warm or looks swollen, then do not proceed. Contact a doctor right away (either yours or at the hospital).
With open hands, start at the ankle of one leg (placing your hands at the top of the lower leg shin area) and flow up toward the knee and end just above the knee. Move the hands on either
side of the leg and flow back down to the ankle.
Do this three times.
PETRISSAGE (Kneading): More Focused Work
Take your thumbs and place them at the very top of the knee (on the lower thigh), where it is soft, and glide your thumbs out from the top to the outer knee in an alternating movement.
Then with both thumbs, and gently press (with a stagnant compression) upward (do not glide). Start center and work outward.
Back to the lower leg. Make “lobster claws” with your hands (four fingers together with separate thumbs) and squeeze the lower legs focusing on the sides of the legs.
Bring focus on the outer lower leg and place both thumbs on the side of the leg and gently squeeze up and down the leg. Then do the same on the inside of the lower leg.
With open hands, do squeezes all around the leg with some massaging [kneading].
TRIGGER POINT TECHNIQUE
Go to the outside of the lower leg about midway. Feel for an obvious stringy muscle (if you don’t feel that, then you can skip this part). With your thumb, balance on top of that muscle by pressing straight in. Move in slowly, because this typically can be very sensitive and hurt. Hold down for a few seconds. Add in, as you hold, move the leg to where there is a 90 degree from the ankle to the knee and from the knee to the hip. Hold the leg steady as you make circles with the foot in both direction. About 4 slow circles (count 4 in one direction then 4 in the other).
Then do the other leg.
May your child rest well every night by your loving hands.