Benefits of Touch Through Massage
Posted by Matt Tomasino in News & Articles
The importance of touch can be traced to practically every species. It has been shown to cause a chain reaction that immediately responds by the release of pleasant feeling cerebral responses. Whether it’s a gentle brush across your shoulder by someone’s hand or a full on hug, a spurt of happy brain goodness just may make you smile. One study from the University of North Carolina found that women who hugged their spouse or partner frequently (even for just 20 seconds) had lower blood pressure, possibly because a warm embrace increases oxytocin levels in the brain. (HuffingtonPost 5/13)
Yet, if you think about it, how much good touch do you get? Good touch is any touch that consensually feels good. Some are fortunate to have plenty, others not too much and then there are those that hardly get any. If touch is hard to come by for you, the benefits of touch through massage can be highly optimal for continued health, rehabilitation and overall well being.
Matthew Hertenstein, a DePauw University psychologist found in a 2009 study that several of the volunteers who took part in the research where trepidatious about their role. They were supposed to convey, through touch only, a list of emotions to a blindfolded stranger. Hertenstein says, “We’re not used to touching strangers, or even our friends, necessarily,” he goes on, “Most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting,” Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.”
One way to improve your level of touch is by getting a massage. Nowadays a massage is more therapeutic than only a luxury, that’s why they are called massage therapists and no longer masseuses. However, touch is touch and getting a massage offers you the potential to improve your health in many ways. According to the Mayo Clinic some of the benefits of touch through massage include:
Pre and Post birthing support
Nursing homes can be depressing places. Some residents can sit for hours sleeping, drooling or both with minimal movement unless manipulated by an aid. Touch amongst the elderly and/or beyond therapeutic sessions can be minimal and so massage was measured by researchers to determine if its effects could possibly be a beneficial experience. Geriatric Journal, published a study entitled, ’Massage in the Management of Agitation in Nursing Home Residents with Cognitive Impairment’ by Holiday-Welsh and Associates citing that, “Of the 5 agitated behaviors examined in this study, massage was associated with significant improvement for wandering, verbally agitated/abusive, physically agitated/abusive, and resists care.”
Initially, when a baby was born preterm (sometimes called a preemie) for a variety of medical reasons it was recommended that it not be directly touched so as to keep its vulnerable immune system unchallenged. Babies would be placed in ‘incubators’ with gloves attached for people to maneuver them. However, after various research on the possible benefits of touch it became not only allowable but recommended that preterm infants receive as much gentle, skin-to-skin touch as possible. Here are conclusions from two research studies regarding preterm infant massage:
Published in the Journal for Pediatric Psychology (9/03) the study, ‘Stable preterm infants gain more weight and sleep less after five days of massage therapy’ performed by researchers at the Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine concluded that:
“Healthy, low-risk preterm infants gained more weight and slept less with just 5 days of massage, in contrast to 10 days in previous studies. Results support the continued use of massage as a cost-effective therapy for medically stable preterm infants.”
Another study by Japanese researchers at the Department of Rehabilitation, Kinki University Faculty of Medicine titled, ‘Effect of therapeutic touch on brain activation of preterm infants in response to sensory punctate stimulus: a near-infrared spectroscopy-based study’ found that:
“Therapeutic touch in preterm infants can ameliorate their sensory punctate stimulus response in terms of brain activation, indicated by increased cerebral oxygenation. Therefore, therapeutic touch may have a protective effect on the auto-regulation of cerebral blood flow during sensory punctate stimulus in neonates.”
The benefits of touch through massage may be the best way to decrease touch deprivation and increase a society of healthier, happier, friendlier, more content citizens.
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