The sensation of touch is not classified as one of the special senses of the body, such as hearing or vision. If you are interested on understanding why, there are plenty of resources that can explain it very well, but that is not my point today.
Regardless of how it is categorized, touch may be the most special sense.
Why? Because it can have such a dramatic impact on our well-being in so many ways.
When we are reunited with a loved one we have been separated from, we greet them with a hug right away. When a baby or child is upset, we hold them. When a person is grieving or dealing with a very stressful situation, we can give them comfort by our presence and touch when words fall short.
Touch provides comfort beyond words. It says in a simple but powerful way “I am here with you” and “I am here for you” and “I care about you”. It says “You are not alone”.
Our language is filled with references to touch to describe important items and events. We talk about holding somebody’s hand through a scary or hard situation. We give people a shoulder to cry on. We give a pat on the back for a job well done. When we are moved by a performance (musical, artwork, acting) or when something is done or said for us we say “I am touched”.
Many in our society are lacking in touch. They can go days and weeks or longer without meaningful touch from another person. With increased travel and computer and electronic usage there is less personal interaction. Concerns about perceived harassment and inappropriate touching cause some to avoid contact even when both parties need it and it is completely innocent.
The need for touch is real. I believe that is a part of why massage feels so good. Not only will your muscles feel better and your mind gets a break, you are receiving the touch that you require.
There have been many medical and scientific studies about the benefits touch provides. You can easily find them by searching for the benefits of touch. The studies reveal that with touch stress hormones decrease, feel good hormones increase, pain can be handled better, and a greater feeling of calmness and well-being results. In a nutshell you feel better.
Here is one brief article from CNN that describes the benefits of touch:
If you are lacking in touch, massage is a great solution. You don’t even need to mention it when you come in. You can walk out feeling so much better about yourself and the world around you.
How can we promote basic, safe, person-to-person touch? Add your suggestions in the comments below.
Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio. Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com
You are right on. I agree that touch has become more awkward for this digital world we live in. I personally love hugs and personal contact, but I have to be more aware now that others may not be as comfortable with that.
I also agree that massage is a great way to help someone get that touch they so need, but in a more private way. Great post!
Thanks Renee. It’s interesting that it’s a natural thing for kids and society does not encourage it
More people are finally understanding that touch doesn’t have to sexual. Touch can be so healing for someone who is going through a ruff time.
Thanks Jess. Some of the research studies showed that even light touch for only a few minutes was very helpful.
Thanks for a great article! I also think connectedness through touch is a basic human need that we all have and massage a is great way to bring that into your life.
Thanks Tiffany. It does help us to connect to each other and realize that we are dealing with people. Companies, families, communities are made up of fellow humans.