Massage and ADHD

Did you know that massage could help those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Researchers have found that massage has been very successful with those suffering from ADHD and the results are remarkable. Many children today are being diagnosed with ADHD, but do we know what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity is or what causes it?

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition typically seen in young to adolescent children. This disorder makes it difficult for the individual to concentrate or control their behavior or actions. The characteristics of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. The symptoms start over a period of months, extending to a year or more. Some children are normally hyper and lack concentration and often daydream but when it interferes with their performance in school, social relationships with other children and behavior at home progressively gets worse, ADHD may be suspected. A professional should only diagnose ADHD, because the symptoms vary and often may be misdiagnosed. ADHD is usually treated with stimulants and in an effort to control affected individuals increasing number of school age children are being medicated on a regular basis.

Possible Cause

An exact cause for ADHD does not seem to exist at the present time, but it is suggested that it may stem from either environmental causes, trauma or from genetics. Research studies have found that brains of those that are not affected by ADHD are different from those that are affected by ADHD. Researchers have learned much about this disease by studying modern brain imaging technology. It is believed that the deficiency of dopamine in the central nervous system may cause most of the problems associated with ADHD; which may account for the type of medications used to help with ADHD. The medications used in the affected children have been found to increase the dopamine levels within the brain.

Types of Massage

There are different methods of massage and some methods have greater effects than others. Most importantly one must remember that goal is to stimulate the parasympathetic relaxation response when working with individuals with ADHD. The parasympathetic response will enhance slowed breathing, reduce the heart rate and increase digestive sounds. There are many styles of massage therapy but listed below are some that may initiate relaxation.

1. Cranial-sacral therapy will release any restrictions in the cranium and/or sacrum that may contribute to ADHD. The movements of these areas will also initiate the parasympathetic response.

2. Swedish massage and other slow stroking movements have a definite sedating effect, which in turn will activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

3. Watsu is a deeply relaxing type of bodywork performed in a warm water pool. Although a pool is a needed type of equipment for this type of massage, the benefits are remarkable when calming a hyperactive individual.

4. Specific bodywork will encourage the sympathetic nervous system, and because of this it is suggested to avoid fast and firm strokes as well as any type of percussive massage techniques.

5. Myofascial release focuses on the fascia as one, large connected system. It concentrates on a gently and unwinding technique that releases and activates the parasympathetic system. This technique is similar to the cranial-sacral where it will release the tension and allow the energy to flow freely.


Many parents are looking for alternatives to treat their children who suffer with ADHD. They do not want to continue medicating their children and are looking for more non-invasive methods to treat this disease. The research has shown that touch through massage has benefits for those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and it can become an important tool in the management of this disease. More research is also being done with other types of therapies and reliance of medications is not the only alternative.

There is hope for those that suffer from this disease and the need of medication may not be the only solution for those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

About Dr. Daisy Sutherland (816 Posts)

Dr. Daisy Sutherland is a doctor, author, speaker, healthy living brand ambassador, wife & mom to 5 children. Dr. Daisy's mission is to ~ Help Busy Moms and Families achieve Happier and Healthier Lifestyles.

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  1. 1

    Interesting article. I will be passing this info and a link on to my readers. Thanks! Love your homeschool site, too, passing that on as well.

  2. 2
    Mark Salinas says:

    Very interesting….I did not know this. Thank you for!

  3. 3

    Good article – great info. I wonder if it would help with adult ADD? I’d like to look into natural treatments for that as well.

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