Massage for My Toddler’s Growing Pains


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Ellie Dukes

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You may or may not know that I have 3 children, ages 12, 6 and 3 and a half.  Two dudes, and one diva; the youngest is my diva.

What are Growing Pains?

Despite the name, growing pains do not occur during the time of most rapid growth, such as the adolescent growth spurt; they do not occur at specific sites of growth, and do not affect the growth of children who have them.

My Son Zac’s Growing Pains

I first started noticing my middle dude Zac, who was 4 or 5 at the time, kept complaining at night that his legs hurt. I thought he just wanted me to massage them for him. I would do it some times and other times I would just tell him he was faking. One night I woke up because he was sobbing uncontrollably and writhing in pain. He said his legs hurt really badly and it wouldn’t stop.

My Instinct Was to Massage It

I immediately started to massage his legs. While I was massaging with the utmost care and compassion for my own child, I could only think of all the times he told me he was in pain. It was usually at the end of the day, usually in the evening just before bedtime, around 7 and 8pm. Both legs and both feet were affected. It usually occurred the days he was very active, running, jumping, and tumbling. Being a regular active kid in the day-produced growing pains so bad it work him out of his sleep a few nights.

Bringing Awareness to Breath at an Early Age

I helped him to calm down, soothing him by speaking slowly and softly and massaging him gently. I asked his dad to bring in the heating pad, a pair of my wool socks and some baby Motrin. I did some light stretching, compressions and gentle Swedish massage.  I helped to be aware of the pain in his legs and to point to where it hurts the most and to tell me when it went away or felt a lot better. I showed him how to breathe deeply, slowly filling his tummy with the air. Exhaling slowly to slow his crying and also to calm him so he did not go into an asthma attack, which was just about to come on, because of the high anxiety.

Daddy was very efficient in getting the items and even got him a warm cup of milk. (Daddy saves the night and gets 10 ‘cools’ points for that one) He was very concerned and did not understand what was going on, but he followed my lead, sat nearby and reassured Zac that he was going to be OK. After about 20 minutes (seemed like an hour) Zac said, “I feel better mommy, leave the socks on, you can turn off the heating pad.” We bundled his legs with an extra blanket to keep the heat in. Zac turned over and let out a deep sigh of relief.

We looked at the clock and it was 3am. The great thing about massaging kids is that you don’t have to do it for very long. Their little bodies recover quickly.  To this day he remembers how to control his emotions with breath work and to let me know when he’s had a hard day of playing.

I am prepared for my little diva’s growing pains. She just started to complain about her legs hurting her at nighttime. However she knows how to work her mommy-and-me massage time. She turns over and says, “can you sagge my back now please?”

A massage therapist by day, on-call mommy massage therapist at night. Don’t worry – I have all of them walk on my back during the day; I get my time in too.

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