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The Power of Touch

Updated: 1 day ago

Man with his hands crossed.
Our fingertips are the gateway to touch.

Human Touch in Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has become increasingly popular as a complementary and alternative medicine for its numerous health benefits. Among these benefits is the positive effect of touch on the body. Many people that I talk to are unaware of the physiological changes that happen during the human touch portion of massage therapy. As men, this is a vital part of our health and wellness that we overlook in order to focus on some of the other, more traditional, wellness activities.

The human touch portion of massage therapy involves the application of pressure, movement, and stretching techniques using the therapist’s hands, fingers, and elbows. The goal is to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension and pain, and promote relaxation and overall well-being.

One of the primary physiological changes that happen during massage therapy is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for the body’s rest and digest response, which counteracts the fight or flight response triggered by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The PNS activation during massage therapy leads to decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can cause various health problems such as obesity and heart disease (Field, 2016).

Another important physiological change that happens during massage therapy is improved blood and lymphatic circulation. Massage therapy helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Lymphatic circulation, which is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body, can also be stimulated by massage therapy (Bauer, 2019).

Massage therapy has also been found to increase the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins can help to alleviate pain, improve mood, and reduce anxiety and depression (Moyer et al., 2011).

Lastly, massage therapy can lead to improved flexibility and range of motion. This is due to the release of muscle tension and the stretching of muscle fibers during the massage. Increased flexibility and range of motion can improve athletic performance, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance overall physical fitness (Weerapong et al., 2005).

In conclusion, the physiological changes that happen during the human touch portion of massage therapy are numerous and can benefit everyone, men especially. From activating the PNS to improving blood and lymphatic circulation, massage therapy can lead to reduced stress levels, increased pain relief, and improved physical performance. For men looking to enhance their overall health and fitness, massage therapy can be a valuable addition to their self-care routine.

References: Bauer, B. A. (2019). Massage therapy. Mayo Clinic. Field, T. (2016). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 24, 19-31. Weerapong, P., Hume, P. A., & Kolt, G. S. (2005). The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention. Sports Medicine, 35(3), 235-256.

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Steve Wooten
Steve Wooten
Jul 27, 2023

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