The Benefits of Touch

What are some of the benefits of receiving touch?

 

 

Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.

Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.

Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.

Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles

Reduces spasms and cramping

Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.

 

  • Releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller – and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.

 

  • Similar to meditation, touch and massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (Rest and Digest), which is the antidote for the stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight)[1]

 

The Anatomy of Touch

 

 

Ruffini Endings: Bulbous corpuscle, which is a slowly adapting mechanoreceptor found in the subcutaneous tissue of humans. It is sensitive to skin stretch and contributes to the kinesthetic sense of and control of finger position and movement. They respond to sustained pressure and show very little adaptation. When found in joints, they register mechanical deformation within joints (specifically angle change) and they also act as thermo receptors.

 

Merkel’s cells: Mechanoreceptors found in the skin and mucosa of the vertebrae that provides touch information to the brain. The information they provide is pressure and texture. They are slowly adapting type I mechanoreceptors, and they are the most sensitive.

 

Pacinian corpuscles: Also known as a Lamellar corpuscle, another type of mechanoreceptor responsible for sensitivity to vibration and pressure. Fun fact they are also found in the pancreas where they detect vibration and very low frequency sounds (so when you feel that bass in your gut thank your Lamellar Corpuscles! Anatomy nerd alert!) They are rapidly adapting receptors that detect gross pressure changes and vibrations in the skin.

 

Meissner’s corpuscles: Mechanoreceptor responsible for sensitivity to light touch. They have the highest sensitivity or lowest threshold. These corpuscles are responsible for your being able to feel your clothes on your body and to detect the texture of the fabric! E.g. my Meissner’s corpuscles prefer luon to wool!

 

Another fascinating fact- there are nerve endings that are responsible for different sensations throughout the skin. There are separate nerve endings for heat, cold, pain, pruritus (itching), pressure, and vibration.

 

When receiving touch through a massage, thousands of nerve endings are stimulated in an instant, causing activity in the brain that actually integrates the mind & body.

 

 

Benefits of Touch

 

Emotional & Psychological

 

  • Releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller – and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.
  • Similar to meditation, touch and massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (Rest and Digest), which is the antidote for the stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight)[2]

 

 

 

 

Physical

 

  • Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
  • Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
  • Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.
  • Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles
  • Reduces spasms and cramping

 

 

[1] Diego, M. & Field, T. (2009). Moderate Pressure Massage Elicits a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response. International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 630-639.[1]

 

[2] Diego, M. & Field, T. (2009). Moderate Pressure Massage Elicits a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response. International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 630-639.[2]

 

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