What is it?
Story Massage is a programme for use both at school and home that combines the benefits of positive touch with the fun and creativity of words, be it a story, a song or a rhyme.
Numerous studies have linked positive physical touch with the release of a hormone called Oxytocin –also known as the ‘Cuddle Hormone”. Increased levels of Oxytocin can promote feelings of calm, trust and bonding between the giver and receiver of the massage. We use Story Massage in school usually after periods of heightened activity in order to establish a calm atmosphere, and also with individual children who may be having a tricky time and need an activity that both comforts and reassures them. At home, Story Massage would be especially effective during quiet times – say after dinner- and before bed.
How it works
At the core of the programme are ten key massage moves- known as ‘strokes’- which can be adapted and utilised in many ways and combined with a story told verbally, to create a multi-sensory experience. Once these strokes are learned each can be assigned to words in a story, with limitless possibilities. For example, the Circle Stroke involves drawing a circle on the child’s back (or another part of their body that is accessible and appropriate). This circle could represent the sun in ‘You are my Sunshine’, a roundabout in stories about journeys, or even more abstract ideas like being lost or being unable to make a decision. The only limit is your imagination! Prior to starting, be sure to ask the child’s permission to perform the massage on them. For non-verbal children be alert to any signs that they do not want or are no longer enjoying the massage.
A multi-sensory approach
Story Massage offers an opportunity for children of all abilities to engage with story-telling. In Story Massage sessions, children are not required to follow along with a story visually- following pictures or words- meaning sessions are rewarding and engaging for visually impaired children. Touch-evasive children are able to focus on the auditory element of the story-telling if they do not want to be touched, and conversely; children who have a hearing impairment can focus on the touch alone to tell the story. The accessibility of the Story Massage Programme for all children means that it is a session that is often enjoyed as a whole class, a rare opportunity to have all of our children learning and working alongside each other.
- Story Massage requires no props or materials, you simply need your hands. Therefore it can be done anywhere with little preparation.
- The massage can be performed anywhere on the body, not just the back, making it great for children with limited mobility or who don’t enjoy contact on certain areas.
- The massage improves calmness, concentration and social skills.
- Can help with communication and building respect and positive relationships.
Give it a go!
Included in this blog is an example of a massage story ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ for you to try at home. There are also videos uploaded regularly to Tapestry and the Story Massage Programme You Tube and Vimeo channels showing different massage stories which you can follow along with at home. If you require any more information or would like to be sent some materials to help you start using the Story Massage Programme at home please get in touch!