The Power of Touch

Touch is such a powerful sensation that human beings are gifted with. It is an integral part of our motor-sensory system and gives us tactile information about the world around us. Whether it’s our environment, initiated by loved ones or via physical therapies – touch has the ability to drastically improve mental and physical health outcomes.

To quote neurobiologist David Linden, author of Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart & Mind“You can’t turn touch off. It never goes away. The part of your brain that processes touch information has a map of your body surface. But this map is very highly distorted.It over-represents areas that have lots of fine touch receptors (like the face, the lips, the tongue, and the fingers) and under-represents areas that don’t have many receptors (like the small of your back, your chest, and your thighs).”

We have all experienced a time when a touch from someone we love and know lets us know we are safe, we are cared for, we are loved. The same can be said for that unwanted touch that has left us with a feeling of unease, caution or even fear.

I have been privileged over the past 30+ years to have had many hundreds of clients allow me to apply my sense of touch to them, helping to reduce their pain levels and return to their regular sports or activities. There have been many occasions where the simple act of placing my hands on someone’s back has allowed them to just switch off, knowing they are in a very safe environment, allowing their body to start the repair and recovery phase of what was concerning them.
Skin-to-skin contact is vital not only for mental and emotional health but physical health, too.
When you feel snowed under or pressured, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. One of the biggest things touch can do is reduce such stress, allowing the immune system to work the way it should.
Touch can also calm certain bodily functions, such as your heart rate and blood pressure. It does so by stimulating pressure receptors that transport signals to the vagus nerve. This nerve, the bodies largest, connects the brain to the rest of the body. It uses the signals to slow the pace of the nervous system.
In early life, touch is thought to be crucial for building healthy relationships by stimulating pathways for oxytocin, the natural antidepressant serotonin, and the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine.
Plus, it can tackle loneliness. According to a 2017 study, gentle touch can reduce both pain and feelings of social exclusion.
Another
study from 2014 found that the absence of appropriate regular human touch can have some serious and long lasting effects.” (Source Written by Lauren Sharkey and Karen Lamoreux — Updated on April 8, 2021)

Touch is a very simple but powerful tool we all have at our disposal, use it mindfully!