The Science of Touch

The Science of Touch
Few things feel as amazing as a spa massage or a hug from a loved one. Turns out, there's science behind our need for human contact.

According to a study out of Berkley, touch is fundamental to communication, bonding and health. But for some families, making sure older or sick relatives get they need can be hard.

“We’re always very affectionate with each other and a very close, very close family,” she says. “You know, we hug each other, we kiss each other, so touch is very important to us.”

But when Kriho’s mother suffered a stroke last year, showing and receiving that physical affection so important to the family became a lot more difficult. Kriho decided to bring a massage therapist to the home for her mom.

“Massage therapy is really helpful for our elders because a lot of times, they’re in a situation where they don’t really receive touch very much anymore …,” Compassionate Touch practitioner Janet Ziegler says. “We all want and need touch and that seems to be how we’re wired.”

Ziegler says massage can lead to improved circulation, decreased stress, improved immune function, and offers a connection many people crave.

“They’re able to really connect with someone and feel another person affirming them through touch or comforting them through touch,” she says.

If you’d like to give a gentle massage to a loved one in your life, Ziegler suggests the following:

  • Start by putting lotion on his/her hands and massage gently and slowly.
  • Keep movements slow to help aid in relaxation
  • Older skin is more prone to bruising and tears so it’s important to remember that this is different than a deep tissue or spa massage
  • And remember: “If your thought and your intention is to comfort and to relax, that comes across in your hands.”

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