Medicines and therapies are known for being able to help and heal, but did you know that the simple human touch has healing properties as well? Multiple studies in various journals, such as those done by the Touch Research Institute, have found that touch has a beneficial effect on pain perception, treatment of disease, and emotional and physical development. Touch impacts brain activity as well as muscle tension, which can have significant implications for stress, pain, and many other health concerns.
“Touch therapy” is the term used to describe the type of touch that is used in such health practices like therapeutic massage. This type of purposeful contact can influence the autonomic nervous system, relaxing an individual’s “fight or flight” response, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. While this happens, the muscles that are massaged relax as well, reducing tension in the body. The two combined results in lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of endorphins, which translates into less pain and lower levels of stress.
These are just two of the immediate benefits of the human touch as used in therapeutic massage. Dr, Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD, the program director at the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, reports that touch therapy also has positive impacts on children with autism and attention deficit disorder, by helping the individuals relax, which leads to less instances of acting out.
Therapeutic massage is not a pampering, self-indulgent treat only ever to be had on a vacation or a spa day. Therapeutic massage has real health benefits for multiple populations, improving quality of life from children to the elderly. A piece of these benefits can be attributed to the healing power of touch – something so simple that it is often overlooked in the modern age of biomedical interventions.
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