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Simple Techniques for Infant Massage

by Lisa Rose February 05, 2016

Simple Techniques for Infant Massage

Baby massage, sometimes referred to as infant massage, is as great for the baby as it is for the masseuse or masseur. It’s pretty obvious why… babies are adorable, and they love touch as much as they require it for healthy development. Sometimes adults can be afraid to administer massage to babies for fear of causing pain to the infant or doing it incorrectly.

The good news is that it’s really quite simple and research has shown are that baby massage aids restful sleep and relieves colic. It is also thought to enhance the developing immune system and motor skills.

There are a few general rules to follow, such as to make strokes gentle but firm, so as not to tickle them. The baby will let you know when it has had enough, so it’s important to watch for signs of irritation or distress. A baby massage will usually go on for anything from ten to thirty minutes.

Using a clean towel or blanket, and first test your massage oil (grape seed or jojoba is best) on a small area of the baby’s skin. It is best to do this one day before the massage in case any delayed irritation occurs. It is always best to begin when the infant is relaxed and quiet, but alert. As with adults, massage isn’t good directly after food. The baby should only be wearing a nappy.

How the baby responds to the initial strokes should determine whether you continue the massage. One long stroke from head to toes should be a good indicator – if the baby becomes distressed in any way, you can try another area first, but if the reaction is the same it is better to leave it until another day.

This video demonstrates lots of great techniques:

Massaging baby’s face and head

Cradling the baby's head in your hands and taking care to avoid the fontanel (the soft spot on the top of the head), start by using your fingertips to massage the scalp, as you would if shampooing the hair. Massage the ears between your fingers.

Trace your fingers around the sides of the baby’s face and using the thumbs, stroke outwards starting between the eyebrows. Taking your thumbs either side of the nose, stroke outwards towards the ears. The jawline can be massages with small circles, using your fingertips.

Massaging the chest and stomach area

Using both hands, stroke outwards from the centre of the chest to the shoulders. Beginning at the bottom of the ribs, stroke in a downwards motion, first with one hand and then with the other. Massage the abdominal area in circular motions using the fingertips.

Next, bring the babys feet and knees together, pressing them softly upwards toward to abdomen, before rotating the hips several times to the right; this action dispels trapped wind.  

Massaging the arms and legs

Holding the baby’s wrist with one of your hands, you can form a C-shape around the top of the arm with your free hand, which allows you to make simple strokes from shoulder to wrist. You can also make a gentle ‘wringing’ motion, using both hands gently from top to bottom of the arm.

The legs can be massaged in the exact same way, and for the feet you can stroke the bottom of the baby’s foot from the heel to the toes. Repeat this on top of the foot, and lightly squeeze and pull the toes. Ankles can be massaged using small circles.

Massaging the baby’s back

When massaging the baby’s back, it is best to place the baby face down in front of you, or on top of your legs, making sure the baby’s hands are out in front and not by the sides. Using both hands, move each hand backwards and forwards, stroking in opposite directions from just below the infant’s neck to its bottom. Make little circular movements with the fingertips up and down the sides of spine, being sure not to press directly onto it. Shoulders can be massaged in a circular motion.

For a qualified therapist, massaging infants only really requires common sense and extra care and attention to the reactions of the infant. No doubt as soon as they are able to talk, they’ll be asking for more!




Lisa Rose
Lisa Rose

Author



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Massage Table Size Guide

Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!

A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.

The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because

  1.  They are smaller in size (normally around 61cms wide) and as such have less materials
  2. They are sold by specialist retailers who also sell anything else they can import and turn a profit on. As such they just buy the cheapest massage tables they can find in China. They go for smaller sizes as they are cheaper.

Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.

 

The Width of the Massage Table:

Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.

Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.

Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.

Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.

If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:

Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.

measuring the width of a massage table


Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.

The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.

You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.

 

The Height Of the Massage Table

Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.

A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:

1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.

The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.

You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!

There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.

1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):

If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.

2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):

The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.

 

Massage Table Shape:

The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.

1. Rectangle shaped with square corners 

This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.

2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners

Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.

 

3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient 

A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.


This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.

 

4. Hour glass shaped with sharp gradient
Same as point above but instead of the it gradually going from wide to narrow, the massage table changes quickly from normal width to narrow width so people of very short stature can get in close.
5. Oval Shaped

 The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.

oval massage table

 

Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!