The rocking chair was part of colonial life; it was an American phenomenon. Although it came to the colonies by way of England as a garden chair, new Americans quickly moved it into their homes as a cradling device for mother and child. The rocking chair grew so popular among the colonists that by 1750 the American Windsor Rocking Chair,built in Philadelphia, became known worldwide.
Later, in the 1900’s Rocking Chair Therapy was emerging as a treatment for various ailments, and at the time considered progressive and effective. Doctors have encouraged, suggested and even prescribed rocking for a long time. Rocking regularly in a good rocker simply has the ability to calm the spirit, soothe a stressed body, focus the mind and all the while gently exercising even the weakest of muscles.
Today we’re discovering how important the rocking chair is for psychosocial well-being; its use has spread far beyond the mother/child cradle, and can be a cure for a wide range of health problems.
According to Dr. Heinrich Addleheim of the Kinetic Therapy Clinic in Berlin, Germany, the rocking chair is simply amazing, “We’ve seen cases of patients recuperating from heart attack and stroke – without any trace of
permanent damage – simply because they used a rocking chair while they were recovering. I’ve seen people bedridden with arthritis who were up and around inside a week after regular use of the rocking chair. . . it’s not just a piece of furniture; it’s a remarkable medical device.”
Following is a list of common ailments and disorders greatly relieved by rocking:
Healthy Seniors, Anxiety, Depression “American Journal of Sports Medicine”, March-April 1989 titled “Seniors ROCKING TO GOOD HEALTH” detailing the benefits of rocking to older Americans. It is good for the mind, body and spirit and even can help those with an otherwise sedentary lifestyle to achieve muscle tone through the manageable, non-weight bearing exercise of rocking in a rocking chair.
Later, studies at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York using Rocking Chair Therapy with Alzheimer and Dementia patients. Their research showed that seniors could literally rock away their anxiety and depression. The patients required less medication and their balance improved as well.
Arthritis “Arthritis Today”, the magazine of the Arthritis Foundation, suggests “rock the night away.” The article continues: “Sit in a rocking chair while watching TV or reading, and just rock. Rocking is relaxing and it can improve strength and flexibility – especially in your knees.
Attention Deficit Disorders – ADD & ADHD It seems the motion of the rocking chair can accommodate the need to keep moving while students are studying, listening, etc.
Fibromyalgia, CFS Rocking is also the best solution for CFS and FM patients. Rocking provides easy, non-weight bearing, rhythmic motion and does a very important job in autonomic tone for a population that has difficulty accomplishing exercise.
Back Pain The story of and photographs of President John F. Kennedy rocking in a rocking chair are known to most people. His doctor had prescribed rocking for his chronic back pain. Research shows that the spinal cord can only work in one direction at a time, thus, when the brain is sending motor impulses down the spinal cord to make the legs rock the
chair, pain impulses from the back are blocked, and are prevented from reaching the brain which lets the muscles in the lower back relax. This effect is accomplished with any rocking chair or glider and not by typical recliners or fancy orthopedic or massage chairs.
Cesarean Section Recovery In an article in the “Physical Therapy Review” 40:818, 1960; a study of women who had cesarean sections showed a faster recovery if they spent an hour a day rocking. A follow-up study in Galveston, Texas in December of 1990 followed women who had cesarean sections and showed that rocking mothers had less gas pains, walked faster, and left the hospital one day sooner than non-rocking mothers.
Knee Replacement Surgery Orthopedic surgeons have long recommended rocking as a later phase of those who are re-cooperating from knee replacement surgery.
Post-Operative Recovery & “Speed Healing” Speed Healing – Studies conducted at the Medical College of Virginia have shown that ‘kinetic therapy’ (the constant, gentle motion rocking in a rocking chair) can dramatically speed healing in severely ill patients. The positive effects of rocking on recovering stroke patients are confirmed by a March 2006 Ottawa Clinical Study.
Post-Op Recovery in Pediatric Patients – The British Columbia Children’s Hospital of Vancouver, Canada uses kinesthetic methods including Rocking Chair Therapy for post operative relief from acute, painful medical procedures.
Post-Op Ileus Recovery – Ileus is a condition in which there is an absence of muscular contractions of the intestine which normally move the food through the digestive system and can result in an intestinal obstruction. Dr. Robert Massey was in charge of nursing at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His study proved the positive effects
of rocking on post operative Ileus Duration (return of bowel function) subjective pain and the time to discharge following cancer related abdominal surgery.
Pregnancy & Delivery We are all familiar with the theories and results of using cradles and rockers to calm babies and ease them off to sleep. We have run across research proposing that the rocking of babies by their mothers is not only soothing, but crucial in the bonding process between mother and child.
A baby that’s rocked to sleep benefits greatly; the infant isn’t alone in a cradle; his mother IS the cradle; back and forth; back and forth; slowly picking up a rhythm, with the sound of humming or a sweet lullaby. The neural network of the infant’s brain is taking in signals; all is well; I’m with you; we’re moving together.
Numerous articles in “Mothering” magazine extol the benefits of rocking for mother and child. Rocking soothes fussy babies and relaxes mothers. It stimulates the balance mechanism of the inner ear. It assists an infant’s biological development and ability to be alert and attentive.
SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome At the University of Waikato in New Zealand there have been studies relating vestibular function to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Rocking stimulation has been shown to be beneficial for premature babies in reducing apnea.
Varicose Veins There is research on the use of rocking to stimulate circulation, improve muscle tone, and to help prevent and cure varicose veins. Many pregnancy support articles and web sites recommend rocking in a rocking chair to prevent the development of varicose veins.