Community Spotlight: Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts

Carla Moodie is an intuitive, integrative, and therapeutic Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Master, who is dedicated to holistic well being and lifestyle. She offers her services at Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts in Pittsfield, MA. Below are techniques that you can use to help soothe your child’s growing pains and assist in cultivating a calm evening routine.

Nurturing Parent Massage

Nurturing Parent Massage came from me realizing that I needed to be there for my son. Growing up, I never experienced the troublesome ordeal of growing pains. However, being a parent to an active toddler gave me some real insight about what this experience was about. I learned real fast about how growing pains can affect our precious little beings. In my experience as a first time Mom, I was dealing with a double whammy.  Ever since my son was a baby, he refused to surrender to bed time. He fought it like a champ. Tack that on to intense leg sensations at night, and we are talking about a for-real nightmare.

By the time my son turned 4, I made a decision (separate from what he was going through). I got this inspiration and need to learn something new and bring myself back from postpartum depression; and that’s when I fell in love with massage. I went off to Kripalu (Center for Yoga and Health) and immersed myself in the study of massage therapy and bodywork, with a yogic perspective. Even though I was “led” to take this venture for myself, I began to realize that I just acquired something very valuable. Not just for myself, but also for my family. This self-journey gave me the perfect solution for my son, and essentially that’s when I came up with a wholesome resolution to growing pains.

How did I know this routine worked? Well, my son has a good friend who is around the same age and had growing pains even worse than his. Of course kids want to spend as much time together playing and they love having sleepovers. The very first sleepover they had, the friend’s mother warned me that he wakes up in the middle of the night in pain. She also let me know that she did try rubbing his legs when the intense sensations started at night. He would be fine for a little while, but then wake up multiple times throughout the night, still in pain.  

So on this particular night of the sleepover, I was on the alert. On cue, he started. I got a lavender cream and I started the massage flow I used on my son. I was able to safely apply some basic fluid massage techniques, and use range of motion and compression. We were getting the circulation moving, connecting to the internal (or deeper) muscles, and pressing out the aches and pain sensations, respectfully. He became more settled and relaxed. He stopped crying in his sleep and was able to rest. At this point, I was able to head back to bed. He did not wake up again, like he normally did, and was able to sleep for the rest of the night. I asked him if he remembered being in pain that night, and he did not remember a thing, and told me he slept well.

Not only does this massage take away the pain, but it helps with being able to rest better at night.

What makes this modality beneficial is the blend of massage techniques, three different bodywork modalities, and a mama’s (or a parent’s) loving touch. Massage techniques like effleurage, petrissage, and the amount of pressure used get the circulation moving while soothing the aches and pains. Massage also moves in fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients that support healing and relaxation.

Range of motion is essential for getting to the deeper muscles.  Bodywork such as Thai Yoga Massage and Integrated Positional Release Therapy are perfect for that. The appropriate amount of Trigger Point Therapy helps to focus on specific muscles. There are times when muscles get so bound up that the use of a relaxing glide (like effleurage) or range of motion is not enough. Holding a trigger point triggers a message to the muscle to release and let go.

There is a nice variety of options in these techniques that are used to, not just meet the goal of soothing the aches and pains our precious little ones go through, but to help them rest better and have fewer experiences with growing pains.

The absolute best part of this treatment is that it comes from the loving hands of a parent. The nurturing expression we give to our children can last a lifetime. Currently, I teach parents how to safely provide this technique for their children in individual appointment sessions (with the child present). If a parent is not trained in massage, it is ideal for the parent to be taught this flow in order to learn the right amount of pressure and technique to use. However, in the meantime there are some things you can do using the effleurage, petrissage, and trigger point at home, around bedtime.

The Basic Techniques for Home

Effleurage is a fluid gliding motion that typically moves or flows in the direction of the heart. So with the legs, start at the ankles with open hands and fingers together and glide your hands upward to the knee. Stop just above the knee then bring that motion back down on the sides of the legs. Do that at least 3 times or as many times as needed.

Petrissage is typically done after the muscles have been warmed up with effleurage. This technique is a kneading motion, like how you knead bread. When most people think about massaging, this is usually the technique they are envisioning. It is a squeezing, wringing, and getting more of a hold of the muscles groups. This can be done on the calves, the heel of the foot ,and the softer areas of the foreleg.

Trigger Point is the best way to really “communicate” with stubborn muscles to let go. With this one, you have to be mindful of how much pressure you use. It is best done after the first two techniques. With effleurage, you are likely to find those muscles that are stuck in spasm. When you find them, use your thumb and, starting gently, begin to press into the muscle just before it gets too painful (check in with your child to make sure the pressure is ok for him or her). Of course, if they are making that “painful” face or says it’s too much, lighten up. Hold the point until you notice it is not as rigid, yet softer to the touch. Finish it out with a few more flows of effleurage. Doing the finishing flow helps to avoid bruising. If your child bruises easily, your goal is not to press so deep that it causes bruising. Contrary to when adults get a massage and have been lead to believe this is the norm, it is not. No one should walk away from a massage bruised as a result of the treatment. There are some blood conditions or medications that may cause this and you may need to talk to your doctor about it, but this is not the norm.

Additional Helpful Hints

To really make an impact with reducing your child’s pain at night, here are some great things to do before the massage and bedtime:

Warm Bath

Run your child a warm bath.  Make sure it is warm enough for the pores to dilate, but not too hot.  Add epsom salt (appropriate for child’s age) to the bath. Look for some that has lavender in it (be mindful of any allergies your child may have) or you can add lavender essential oil to the water. Allow your child to soak for 15 minutes (no more than 20).

Preparing for the Massage

It is best to use hypoallergenic massage oils like grapeseed (this oil is unscented). However, if you don’t have that around the house, you can use olive oil, coconut oil (cooling for summer), or even sesame seed oil (which is perfect for warming in winter). Keep in mind, these oils do have a scent to them, so if you are planning to use a child-friendly essential oil, it may change the experience of use.

If you are able to use an essential oil, lavender is perfect. Lavender promotes rest and relaxation. It can help the systems of the body to let go. There are also great lavender based creams or lotions. These are good to use when you don’t want to stain your clothes or sheets with oil.

Add Music

You can also add relaxing music to the experience. Music that is great for toddler lullabies, yoga or massage. There is also music that is used for EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). Using this type of music is a bonus. The purpose for it is to essentially balance the brain hemisphere and promote better brain functioning and processing. The way I look at it, whatever stress or strain the child may end up holding on to as a result of pain or any other stressors that you may or may not know about, this music will more likely help deep-seated stressors to be processed out of the body easier and promote relaxation, which optimizes the physical healing process caused by growing pains. Playlist for EMDR music can be found on well-known free music channels online.

Taking Care of You… To Be there for your Child

I would be remiss if I do not mention this last, and most important element; You. Your expression of love and care is the main ingredient to this modality. It is the safe place your child thrives in.  When you are calm, mindful, and in a “do no harm” mode; your child is more likely to relax. They sense our every emotion whether we are outward with those emotions or not. As parents, if we are upset, angry, frustrated, sad, scared or anxious they will respond to that and take it on. They are energetically connected to us, and for natural reasons. They are learning about a world that we have been living in for a while now, and they can actually learn about it through our responses and energies. This is an innate parenting ability we have. It uses no words and sometimes no actions, just our sixth sense.

So when you are preparing for this nightly massage, do a little meditation or centering and bring yourself into the present moment (if you have ever taken a yoga class that starts with a centering, this is what I mean). Do some slow deep breathing, and every time you exhale, relax your mind and your body even more. Set your concerns, troubles, and stresses aside for this moment. Don’t worry, they will still be there when your are done. But for the moment, your child needs you, so make this time specifically for him or her.  

If you have a hard time with getting there, find a yoga class that incorporates Pranayama (yogic breath work). This aspect of yoga teaches and reminds us how to breath and how to optimize relaxation through the breath. Getting Reiki sessions also helps. Reiki is an energy therapy that accesses our nervous system for healing. It is also perfect for helping us to relax and heal from any of our own traumas we may be holding in our bodies.   

These are great tools to have in your parenting toolkit, especially around experiences like growing pains, which is common for many kids to go through. They are reliable options if you don’t want to start getting in the habit of turning to medications; particularly this early in their lives. Nurturing Parent Massage can also be great for learning specific techniques for when a child has a hard time going to bed (or just resting at night), if they have belly aches (or are gassy), or if they are getting sick from a common cold. Learning how to use healthy techniques can be beneficial in so many ways. It taps us into our innate need for healthy and loving touch, it supports bonding between a parent and a child, and it supports a child’s development in a more healthy way.

Side Notes: If you want to learn how to do this flow correctly, book an appointment with Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts and we will show you how, so that you are comfortable with with it. Yes, please bring your little one to the appointment so we can help you discover what is going to be the right pressure and movement for your child. You can also book this appointment to learn techniques to help your child fall asleep at night, if your child tend to have a gassy belly (we will do a Ha-Tha flow), or what you can do when your child starts getting sick from a cold.

For a more comprehensive description of using massage for growing pains, please visit my blog and Youtube channel tutorial.

Carla Moodie
LMT, CYT, RML of Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts
www.ishealingarts.com

Save the date! Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts (ISHA) and Modig Internal Disciplines (Modig) are having an open house on August 15th & September 12th, from 6:30 – 8 PM, in our Greenfield space.  ISHA offers massage therapy, integrated positional therapy, integrative acupressure, nurturing parent massage, reiki, chakra therapy, and personal yoga sessions. Modig offers tai chi, qi going and personal yoga sessions.

What will make this open house fun is the fact you will be able to sample some of the modalities. We will guide you in some useful massage techniques you can do for self care, we will demonstrate positional therapy and explain how it works, and Modig will guide you in some tai chi and qi gong. So be ready to do some movement!


Carla is a massage therapist and bodyworker who is licensed in the state of MA.  Her undergraduate and graduate studies were in Psychology, with a concentration in Counseling Psychology.  Carla earned her certification in Yoga Instruction in 2003 and in massage in 2009, both from the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.  She has trained in various bodywork modalities; to name a few Thai Yoga Massage (Lotus Palm), Integrated Positional Therapy (Lee Albert, NMT), the Psychology of Symptoms, Cancer Massage Protocol (Tracey Walton & Associates).  She is also a Reiki Master who takes a more traditional approach to the treatment according to Dr. Mako Usui. (Title initials key: LMT: licensed massage therapist; CYT: certified yoga teacher; RML: reiki master level)

Carla offers healing services in Pittsfield, MA where she currently has appointments open for parents to learn how to do the growing pains flow, general massage & bodywork, energy work and personal yoga as therapy. Ishealingarts.com for appointments, ishealinglife.com for blog (useful information about healing modalities and self-care) and YouTube tutorials (under her business name).

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