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The Healing Power of Touch

March 1, 2024

At Birth

We reap the benefits of touch from the moment we are born. Skin-to-skin contact is widely used between newborns and loved ones right after delivery. This helps the baby with enhanced nutrient absorption, better body temperature maintenance, and improved brain development. Parents and caregivers also get mental health benefits as well from this close contact.

A Lifetime of Healing Touch

Throughout our lifetime we experience the power to heal through touch. Touch can comfort us and immediately decrease heightened stress levels. Massage and firm touch can lead to diminished pain, decreased autoimmune symptoms, and improved sleep.

The Stress Effect

Looking at massage specifically, the body responds positively from the movement of skin and the stimulation of pressure receptor cells under the skin. Massage increases vagal nerve activity. This is part of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This system controls digestion, heart rate, and the immune system. This stimulation improves cognitive alertness and lowers the body’s stress response. It decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (hormone released during stress and pain) and increases oxytocin (a hormone released during moments of human connection associated with feelings of empathy and trust). Massage also increases serotonin which helps people with depression.

Muscular Pain Relief

Tight muscles can restrict movement and reduce blood circulation. Pain is increased as normal movement is avoided. Restricted movement then causes poor biomechanics and contributes to more pain. This can be a vicious cycle of pain. Massage helps break that cycle. It improves blood circulation, reduces tight muscles, and corrects poor movement patterns.

Types of Massage Techniques

If a regular massage session is out of your budget, consider other methods. Try Yoga, stretching, Tai Chi, laying on the floor and rolling side to side, myofascial release and foam rolling, swimming, biking, and walking (for pressure receptors in the feet). Incorporating activities that move the skin result in effects similar to massage therapy. The healing power of touch is at your fingertips. Take the time to slow down and choose ways to include these practices into your life for numerous positive rewards.

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