Hello, and welcome to this month’s article! How have you been doing? Have you made time this summer to relax a little? Remember, you can schedule a little “me time” by setting up your next massage appointment. Make your health and well-being a priority!
This month’s featured article was originally published in Body Sense magazine and explains just how vital touch is to your overall health. Your regular massage sessions can ensure that you get the many health benefits that skillful touch can provide.
If you know anyone who faces the health challenges of fibromyalgia, you can share this month’s information with them. The second article covers five important benefits massage provides to fibromyalgia patients.
If you have any specific questions on how massage can help other aspects of your life, be sure to ask at your next appointment.
Enjoy the rest of your summer; see you soon for your next massage!
The Power of Touch
By Nora Brunner
According to Texas psychology professor David R. Cross, PhD, ... the ill effects of non-touching are simply not that obvious and don't receive much attention. While there is scientific research showing non-touch is detrimental to health, none of these effects grab headlines, sound alarms, or elicit urgent concern. The effects are more insidious and long-term and don't amount to a dramatic story for prime time. "Humans deprived of touch are prone to mental illness, violence, compromised immune systems, and poor self-regulation," Cross says. So serious are the effects of touch deprivation, it's considered by researchers to be worse than physical abuse.
Benefits of Touch
Stated more positively, science does support the preventive health benefits of touch. For example, infant massage has gained popularity as studies have shown pre-term babies receiving massage gain more weight and are healthier than non-massaged preemies. Experiments with baby monkeys showed they preferred mother surrogates, like terry cloth dummies, to food.
Tiffany Field, PhD, founder of the Touch Research Institute, notes that in a study on pre-term infants, massaging the babies increased their weight and allowed them to be discharged earlier. Discharging babies earlier from expensive neonatal intensive care units could save the healthcare system $4.7 billion annually.
In other research, scientists at the University of North Carolina found the stress hormone, cortisol, was reduced with hugging. Cortisol is associated with anger, anxiety, physical tension, and weakened immunity. They also discovered hugging led to positive physiological and emotional changes in the body, noting that a mere 20 seconds of hugging boosted levels of the hormone oxytocin, which improved heart function.
Massage therapy has been found useful in reducing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, pain, and stress in conjunction with various illnesses and treatments, including anorexia nervosa, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, muscular pain and stiffness, strokes, and postsurgery care.
While more research is needed, massage therapy has also been shown to reduce symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal and smoking cessation, and can improve self-esteem, boost the immune system, increase flexibility, and improve sleep.
You might think with all the problems in our expensive, symptom-driven American healthcare system, we'd take every opportunity to afford ourselves health-promoting activities that are far more pleasant than sweating it out at the gym. Yet, we are still finding our way in terms of increasing our touch quotient.
Perhaps one of the fathers of the modern massage movement, the late Robert Noah Calvert, said it best: "The application of caring human touch is an inherently innate behavior for giving and receiving love, which all humankind wants and needs. The real purpose of giving massage is to foster more depth of feeling for one another in order to bring out the love that often lies buried beneath the pain of everyday suffering." ...
5 Benefits of Massage for Fibromyalgia Patients
... Healthy touch can help the 5 million Americans estimated ... to live with the pain and tenderness of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body, with tenderness in joints, as well as in muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. Although there is no cure for this painful syndrome, pain can be managed—and massage for fibromyalgia patients is one way to practice pain management. ...
There are many benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients, and various types of massage, including myofascial release, Swedish and shiatsu have been indicated by research studies to help this clientele. Here are five of the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients:
- Relaxation to improve sleep. Sessions in the evening will benefit the patient to allow better quality of sleep at night, thereby helping the body repair and rejuvenate at night more effectively.
- Improved muscle tonicity. This benefit will aid lethargic muscles and help restore strength and vitality to your client’s body. ...
- Improved mental clarity. A relaxing session can raise healthy awareness and relieve mental stress. This can improve the client’s cognitive issues.
- Headache relief. Improving blood flow to the brain can relieve the physical source of headache, while the relief received can further keep the person’s mind in a healthier space.
- Diminishing the effects of any anxiety or depression. These effects include hormonal fluctuations, interference with appetite and chronic fight-or-flight mode. Massage can restore homeostasis of the body, thereby diminishing these effects.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
— Leo Buscaglia
The content of this article is not designed
to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
© 2016 Massage Marketing. Used with permission; all rights reserved.