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Can Massage Therapy Help with ADHD?

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Massage, as a treatment method, for children with ADHD has been shown to reduce anxiety, hostility, and overall aggressiveness. Since children with ADHD often seek physical stimulation, it makes sense that massaging your child would be a worthwhile practice.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most talked-about conditions in our world today.

According to Healthline, there are more than 6.4 million American children between the ages of 4-17 that have been diagnosed with ADHD and that number has increased by 42% over the past 8 years.

With ADHD numbers continuing to grow, it is more important than ever for parents to be looking for natural solutions that can help their child as they struggle with this condition.

Massage has become a popular solution for many parents, not only because it works but because it doesn't come with the potentially dangerous side effects that many ADHD medications cause.

Massage and ADHD- What Does the Research Say?

While there is still a need for more research on the topics of ADHD and massage, there are already several tests that have indicated a strong connection between the two.

Many parents of children with ADHD know that one of the very common, yet often undiscussed symptoms of ADHD is a desire to have physical stimulation. It is not uncommon for kids with ADHD to enjoy activities that stimulate their senses. They often like very hot or very cold showers, back rubs, sports, and exercise.

Many kids with ADHD have these touch-seeking tendencies, and these tendencies are what encouraged researchers to start looking at how massage could help. Adolescents diagnosed with ADHD are also known to have higher levels of dopamine in their system. Since massage is known to increase serotonin levels, many experts wondered whether this could help children find a better balance and ultimately help keep their ADHD symptoms at bay.

The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami actually conducted two different studies on ADHD and Massage.

In one study, researchers had participants receive a 20-minute massage therapy session twice a week for five weeks. By the end of the study, the students had lower anxiety, were less hostile and parents believed they were less aggressive as well.

Another study that gave male adolescent participants daily massages, looked at the teachers' perspective. Teachers reported that these students were more focused on their schoolwork and fidgeted less in the classroom with massages. The student participants also rated themselves as happier following the program.

While certain studies have found that students can be more focused and less fidgety with massage, one published study looked to measure the impact of massage in a more measurable way, by using the Conners Scale Test. This test looked at the social function, self-control, academic function, mood, and family functioning, among other things. In short, it tested many of the areas of a child's life that are made more difficult with ADHD.

According to the study, children who were receiving regular massage saw an improvement on their Conners Scale Test, indicating there is a connection between the two with kids who struggle with this deficit.

Adding Massage to a Child's Routine

Parents who are considering massage therapy for their child with ADHD should remember that studies indicate success with massage when it is done consistently, so simply going in for one or two sessions may not deliver any results.

Parents may see the best results by scheduling short 20-minute sessions for their children, so their child does not have to sit still for too long a period. It is best for parents to work with a massage therapist who specializes in massage for children with ADHD, as they can use simple, yet effective pressure strokes and provide this therapy while the child is fully clothed.

There is also a growing group of parents who are learning massage therapy techniques on their own so that they can help provide these massages at home.

In addition to helping with their school programs, many parents are also trying a massage in the evening to help their children with ADHD get quality sleep. Research suggests that regular massage can help with sleep patterns and that they can help children fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly throughout the night.

Massage can also help children who struggle with sleepwalking. This is a problem among many children with ADHD, both those on medications and those who don't take medications for this disorder.

While it is clear that additional research could benefit the topic of ADHD and massage, research is already showing that regular massages may be able to help children with this condition find a sense of relaxation and focus.

As ADHD continues to be an extremely common ailment for children today, it has never been more important for parents with these children to look for safe and effective solutions that can help their child find the peace and focus that they need in order to participate in class, keep up with their peers and live a life that isn't entirely dependent on medications such as Ritalin or Adderall.

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