The Power of Touch


Touch is so underestimated 

‘Nothing is so healing as human touch, and too often we underestimate the power of touch’

During the month of October we are celebrating Pro-Touch Awareness Month and kicking off on the 1st October with National Massage Day.

So what does this mean?  Well I bet you used to take touch for granted such as shaking hands, hugs, a pat on the back or even just holding hands with someone, this would have all been before the Pandemic hit and lock down happened and we could not see or touch people that we did not live with or in your little support bubble.  During this time most of us craved just to be able to hug our loved ones but were not allowed.  It was ok if you lived with someone you could still have some form of contact if you wished but what about the 8.2 million British adults who live on their own, they had no one.

Did you know that Touch is the very first sensation you will experience as a baby.  It has been shown to help premature babies to gain weight if they are held or stroked, it also helps to create a bond between adult and child.  But touch also has other powers in that it can help boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels as well as activating the release of the pain killing hormones within the body to help ease ache and pains.  Also studies have shown that people who have Dementia who are hugged or stroked are less prone to irritability and depression.

How does the body process the sensation of touch and what does it mean?

The human body is covered in skin which makes up for around 20% of our body, it’s the largest organ and the most sensitive.  This is due to having up to 50 nerve endings and 3ft of blood vessels in just an area roughly the side of a pound coin.  When you are touched it activates the sensory receptors which are buried in the skin, can detect if the sensation so warm, cold or pain.  One receptor is known as the Pacinian Corpuscle.  This can detect movements and pressure smaller than a millionth of a meter.  Once the receptor received the touch it then sends off a message to the brain to advise it if its good or bad.  If the brain deems the message from the touch receptors to be good, it will release the hormone Oxytocin (The Love hormone) into the bodies blood stream and nerve branches linked to vital control centres of the brain.  Also released are 2 other hormones called Serotonin & Dopamine (The Feel Good/Happy hormones).  By releasing these hormones into the blood stream, it helps to reduce the levels of the Stress Hormone known as Cortisol.  Too much Cortisol in the body can have a detrimental effect of the body as too much is harmful to the body.  If you suffer with stress it can manifest itself both in the mind but also in the body which can cause illness, pain from tension build up in the muscles and other medical conditions.  However, we still need to have some Cortisol in our bodies as it’s our defence hormone for reacting to dangerous fight or flight situations.

All these hormones help with boosting your immune system, controlling blood pressure or blood glucose, inflammation in the muscles, improve sleep and energy as well as helping with improving mood and anxiety levels.  They all work together to help maintain a balance in the body for both Physical and mental health issues.

Touch is a sense we take for granted but will miss it when it’s gone or taken away from us.  In the UK we live in a society where touch is usually reserved for only those closest to us and even then, it may not be a common part of our lives, and this has been more prominent when lockdown kicked in.  The lack of touch has been linked to a rise in people suffering with depression and loneliness.  I bet the first thing most people did when they could see friends and family for the first time since lockdown was lifted was to hug them, bring the power of touch back into our lives.

For a lot of the population in the UK, people see massage as a treat or a pamper activity, but never thought to look at it to help maintain a healthy body and mind, which is what massage can be.  It’s recommended to have a massage every 4 – 6 weeks this way it helps to maintain and keep on top of any stress that is building up in the muscles, gives you the time out to recharge your batteries.  If you only have a massage once a year as a treat, it’s a nice experience during the session and maybe for a few hours or days after your appointment, but then life gets in the way again and stress builds up.  If you owned a car you would take it to get a service or MOT when it’s due.  People need to see that by having a regular massage it’s the equivalent to having a body service/MOT (just a bit more often than a car needs its Service/MOT).

Studies have shown by having regular massages they have helped to reduced Cortisol (Stress Hormone) levels by up to 30% and increase levels of Serotonin (Feel Good Hormone) by up to 28%.  Remember that by having a massage it not only helps with physical muscle aches and pains, but also that of the mind.

sports massage training

Essential Thyme deal with a wide range of clients and tailor the massage to the needs to each client on the day they visit the clinic.  This can be for pain management with tight muscles, dealing with old injuries, Fatigue, symptom management from medical conditions or side effects from medication, as well as help to clear the mind, give clients a safe space to relax for a short while and to let their bodies start healing themselves.

Remember that with just one touch we can soothe, comfort and convey caring in a way word never can.

So why not book yourself in for a massage during October to see how the Power of Touch can work for you.