Recovering Faster: Why Sports Massage is Critical for Young Athletes

Injuries are tough...maybe even more so for young athletes due to not only the taxing physical recovery, but the mental and emotional aspects that go along with trying to make it back. Kids are pushed hard these days due to a very competitive world, and resting is considered "over-rated" by many. However, keep in mind that over training and repetitive muscle actions increase the rate of an injury, particularly for teens who are more vulnerable due to changing bodies.This overuse may result in joint pain, muscle exhaustion and inflammation that may lead to more serious injuries, especially when you add in the "growth" factor...yes, teens are growing!  

So, how can we help our young athletes mitigate injury that is often a result of overuse, besides the obvious, rest? Massage of course. Massage is a common facet for professional athletes and is gaining momentum for amateurs as well. Tom Smith, athletic trainer for the Orlando Magic, was interviewed in an article by the Massage Therapy Foundation and mentioned that massage can have "very powerful healing results" and he is a huge believer in it. Isn't it cool that you, as a parent, can offer the same healing touch to your young athlete that professional athletes are getting?

Let's take a look at the benefits of sports massage:

Chakra Catepillar

Chakra Caterpillar

Spring is in the air and I am longing for the warmth of sunshine and the colors of nature blooming! Ah, color - something we've been missing for months. So for a little inspiration, why not get creative and use the chakras as your guide. 

Below is a picture of a chakra caterpillar that my daughter made. This is a wonderful project to introduce the chakras, or wheels of energy, to children. (They also align with the colors of the rainbow!) Children can learn the colors associated with the chakras and find them on their body. Use this reference to explain chakras to small children:

Root Chakra: 
            Color: red
            Location: Tailbone
            Activity: Stomp your feet on the ground. This helps us connect with our Mother Earth and feel grounded.

Sacral Chakra: 
           Color: Orange
            Location: Right below the belly button
            Activity: Dancing can help balance the sacral chakra which instills feelings of joy, happiness and well-being.


Opening the Heart Chakra

The heart chakra, located in the center of the chest, is the energy point that embodies love, warmth, compassion and joy. Teaching our children how to maintain an open heart is a priceless skill that provides emotional balance that will follow them throughout their lives.

However, this isn’t always so easy. Children, like adults, can suffer from guilt, grief, fear and betrayal…all emotions that can lead to a closing of the heart chakra. This closing is often a natural response to hurt and a means to protecting oneself; however, holding hurt feelings cuts one off from others and severs our human connections. 

By opening the heart chakra, one is able to let go of pain and form deep bonds with others. The heart chakra is a healing center because love embodies it. In fact, the Sandkrit word, Anahata, means “unhurt”. Beneath where past hurts lie is a pure and spiritual place where love is housed.

How do we teach our children to maintain an open heart? Here a few tips:

*Encourage openness of emotions.
*Teach kids to place their hands on their chest, visualizing a beautiful flower blooming beneath them as they let go of hurt feelings.
*Incorporate the primary heart chakra color of green and the secondary color of pink.
*Flowers and Essential oils can open the heart chakra. These include rose, rosewood, jasmine, holly, pine and eucalyptus.
*Eat leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, celery and squash.
*Drink green and herbal teas.
*Add a little spice, such as sage, cilantro, basil, thyme and parsley to your everyday diet.
*Incorporate the “other natural medicine” – music! Tibetan Singing Bowl music is a wonderful way to become in tune with the vibrations of the heart.