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Incorporating Massage with your Kids

Adding massage into your everyday routine can help kids develop a good relationship to their bodies, feel more grounded, and offers a nice time for bonding. Here are some suggestions, based on age, on how to make massage a part of your everyday family life.

“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins.” – Dr. Frederick Leboyer


Infants 2 Months- Pre Crawling

Great for babies who display quiet alert time but are still not mobile. Ask your baby permission to give them a massage by using a sign (like showing them your hands) or sound (like swishing some oil between your palms). Look for happy smiles, or grabbing of your hands to indicate a “yes,” and rolling away or crying to indicate a “no.” (if you get a “no” try tending to other needs first and then trying again). This teaches them consent and encourages communication.

Infant massage can be very simple. Start with little circles on the bottoms of the feet and around the ankles. Make a clockwise circle on the tummy to help with gas pain. As they get used to it explore massaging arms and legs with “C” shaped hands. Using pressure is fine, touch that’s too light will tickle. Massaging down the limbs can promote a calm mood, massaging towards the heart can stimulate a sleepy baby. Start with a few minutes a day and build up to a daily routine.


Crawlers and Toddlers

Mobile little ones are unlikely to spend much time in one place, try incorporating some massage into diaper routine, after bath time, or with a song or game. For example, you can play the game “Guess what I’m drawing on your back?” No oil needed, just pretend draw on their back and then spend a little time “clearing the slate” massaging in a circle. The game will keep them entertained and the touch can be very grounding for all those big feelings.


Little Kids

Massage can be a great way to teach anatomy: “Where is your arm? Good!” Then a few massage strokes on that arm. “Where’s your head? Good!” Continue this game as long as it holds your child’s attention. If your child is in the “I can do it by myself” phase, try taking turns- “Where’s my foot?”, your child can massage your foot, then you can say, “Ok now it’s my turn. Where is YOUR foot?” And you can gently massage your child’s foot. Let your child challenge you, too, and ask you to find a body part from time to time.

Make a rhythmic or musical game of your massage: try tapping different rhythms on your child, vocalizing the rhythms as you tap. Have your child repeat after you and sing along. Change the rhythms as you work on different parts of the body.

Rainstorm massage: use different types of massage techniques to create a gentle rainstorm on your child’s back. Fingers pitter patter slowly, then faster, loose gentle fists for big raindrops, wide palms rubbing slowly side to side can be the wind blowing back and forth, make a lightning crashing sound as you spread palms apart from the spine out to the sides of the body as if smoothing out fabric. Get creative. Vocal sound effects are very helpful.


School Age Kids

Massage and bodywork techniques are a great way to help kids calm down and be ready to focus on school work or go to bed.  Living in a busy city there is much sensory stimulation constantly. Some kids who tend to get over-stimulated can benefit from pressure with the hands over the eyes.  Have the child lie down and place your hands over the orbital bones of the eyes–not the eyes directly- and place moderate pressure for about 30 seconds or until the child says they are done.

Joint compression works really well with children who are hyperactive.  Have the child lie down in a comfortable position and apply brief but firm pressure to each of the major joints.  Start with ankles, wrists, then move to knees and elbows, and lastly shoulders and hips. You will want to hold the bones above each joint with one hand, while exerting pressure from the bone below.  For example, for the knee, stabilize the leg with one hand on the thigh, and exert an upward pressure with the other hand from the lower leg. For the hips, it is best to have the child lying on their side and exert a firm downward pressure with two hands on the bony part of the hip.

Let the child give themselves a massage. Guide your child on a massage of their body as you demonstrate on yourself. “First let’s gently squeeze our hands (pinching the meaty part at the base of your thumb). Now let’s squeeze our arms (squeezing big your way from wrist to elbow to shoulder). Let’s give ourselves big hugs (hug yourself).” Continue on face (circles on temples, rub circles or tap fingers on forehead and skull) and legs and feet.)


Preteens and Teens

If your teen is not the touchy feely sort, maybe starting with hands or feet is a good way to ease into the idea of massage. A massage to hands or feet can have a calming relaxing effect throughout the whole body without having to massage the entire body.

If your teen plays sports, massage can be an important part of their self care and relaxation routine. If they are comfortable with you working on them, try to determine which muscles get the most wear and tear in the sport your child plays and focus your efforts there. If they prefer to work on themselves, you can demonstrate on yourself how to rub out achy muscles focusing on the muscles that need the most care. Stretching, rolling on a foam roller  and epsom salt baths can also be great self care techniques for teens.

Treat your young adult to a 30 minute massage at Earth + Sky to introduce them to the world of therapeutic massage. Other modalities they might like are cupping and cranial sacral therapy. Get one for yourself at the same time, you can model good self-care while you make a special day of it.

A word about using oil- babies and kids have very receptive skin- so use an oil that you would feel comfortable eating! That means anything out of your kitchen is fine (coconut, grapeseed and olive oil work well) or a pure product like baby jojoba oil or shea butter works well too. Wait until your child is at least a year to add essential oils, and use them wisely and sparingly.
October 1, 2018 Comments Off on Incorporating Massage with your Kids

Massage for Breast Health- Here’s the scoop

breast-massage-books It’s confusing growing up with a uterus and breasts. I have spent years studying and expanding my knowledge of the beautifully complex female reproductive system. These parts always felt mysterious and distinctly other from the rest of my body. After charting my cycles for 5+ years, dappling in Mayan Abdominal Massage, and venturing into v-steams, I have gained an appreciation for what my lower half can do. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery left me in awe of my own pelvic capabilities. And now, after breastfeeding for a year, my eyes have been opened to what those (not so) feeble A-cuppers are designed to do.

post-breast-massage-filteredSo when I was invited to attend a breast massage workshop hosted by Midwife, Massage Therapist, and Women’s Health Extraordinaire, Susanrachel Condon with the Earth + Sky team, I was delighted, if not also a little bemused. I thought, “That’s all good and well, I’m down for massage any day of the week, but how can we spend 6+ hours talking about rubbing boobs?”

I was very quickly proven wrong. Breast massage includes work on the upper back, shoulders, and upper arm areas. All of course which are connected to the breast tissue in one way or another. The practitioner gave me a few options – she could massage on the skin like a regular massage, through a towel, or she could instruct and guide me to massage myself depending on my comfort level. (I opted for the full monty!)

The lecture part of the class revealed so much on the anatomy, development and health of the female breasts. The same breasts I covered up in misfitted brasseries in 6th grade had a completely different cellular structure than the breasts I carried around in college, which were vastly different than the breasts I have been nurturing my daughter with for the last year. In short, the female breasts do not remain stable throughout a woman’s life. Their evolution is fantastically fluid. (No pun intended.)

Between the ages of 17-24 the breasts develop the most alveoli they will ever contain (except for pregnancy). Through continual ovulation and production of high levels of hormones, breasts continue their life of prepping for lactation. Around the age of 35, there is a slow, but steady waning of hormones. The glandular development begins to decrease. This means that the mid-40’s woman’s breasts are less dense with less glandular and connective tissue. In other words, the breasts prepare for menopause a decade (or more!) beforehand. But don’t worry, the girls take their time, they shed alveoli slowly and thoughtfully.

While oscreen-shot-2016-10-17-at-9-42-11-amn a cellular level, their composition is constantly evolving, so is their palpable quality. A woman may notice at one point in her cycle or season of life, they feel more or less lumpy. More or less sensitive. Or even painful. (Also known as Cyclic Mastalgia, which massage can help relieve.) They change in size. There are few nerve endings in breast tissue, but they respond very directly to estrogen and progesterone. So pain in the breasts, when not stemming from an infection or cyst, is usually referred from somewhere else in the body. It’s crucial that a woman knows her normal – even if that varies in a monthly menarche. Breast massage serves as a great starting point to familiarizing ourself with our breasts and starting the journey of healing our past with all the criticism that comes with growing up female.

Some indications for breast massage include swelling in the lymph nodes from edema (raise your hands pregnant and postpartum mamas!). Massage can clear up general congestion and aid tenderness from fibrocystic tissue. As our breast undergo involution, either after weaning or approaching menopause, massage facilitates healthy drainage. It is also highly recommended for cancer patients. Women who have undergone surgery in the upper chest area, such as mastectomy or reduction, find massage helps immensely in the healing process. And lastly, it just downright feels therapeutic. You don’t need a medical reason to indulge in breast massage. In fact a little prevention can go a long way in keeping the girls happy and healthy.breast-massage-pic-filtered

I left the class inspired and excited about all this new knowledge. I had discovered another hidden corridor on learning to delight in my female body. Breast massage felt like I was removing a bra I had been wearing for years and replaced it with a velvety cloak over my whole upper body. I feel like my relationship with my bosom has grown to be even more intimate, respectful, and loving.

So the final verdict? Breast massage is a healing way to appreciate and maintain breast health. I am grateful that I was able to discover this lost art and I hope to carry it on to other women. So what do you say? Let’s #keepthegirlshappy (and healthy!)



As part of our participation in breast cancer awareness month, our staff (and our sister practice Red Moon Wellness in Brooklyn) all participated in advance training in massage for breast health.  To schedule a session with one of our therapists click here. To find out more about classes contact Susanrachel Condon, CCCE, LMT, LM, CLC at River and Mountain Midwifery.

October 17, 2016 Comments Off on Massage for Breast Health- Here’s the scoop

Infant Massage: Bonding Through Touch


Infant Massage Class starting September 17th at Pranavah Yoga

active alert

Infant massage is more than just learning how to relax your baby! It’s about your baby’s first language touch. Touch can help to grow a baby’s nervous system and teach them about the world, and is so soothing. In this four week class, caregivers and parents will be taught a safe and playful routine to practice with their babies in a supportive and friendly group setting. We’ll also discuss techniques that can help with gassy tummies, and ways to integrate baby massage into everyday activities like diaper changes and playtime. Class will take place on Wednesday mornings from 11:15am-12:15pm at Pranavah Yoga starting on Sept 17th.  There is one 1 make-up class available on October 29th in case you miss a class. Preregistration and payment in full $100 is required, call (718) 392-0979 or sign up here.  Appropriate for babies two months to pre-crawling.

Want to learn more? Katinka was recently interviewed by reporter Rachel Sokol for a piece on baby massage that appeared in Parent and Newborn magazine. See the full article here.

August 18, 2014 Comments Off on Infant Massage: Bonding Through Touch