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The Science of Touch

Updated: May 27, 2022

Massage therapy began as a sacred system of natural healing. The practice of using touch as a healing method derives from customs and techniques rooted in ancient history.

Dating back to early Indian Ayurvedic medicine, massage was considered a sacred system of natural healing and passed down through the generations to heal injury, relieve pain and to prevent & cure illness. Ayurvedic traditions believe that illness and disease are caused when people are disconnected from the environment. Touch therapy is believed to restore the bodies natural and physical balance so that it can heal naturally.

As culture and history evolved, the healing methods of massage traveled to China and Southeast Asia. Chinese massage developed a combination of skills and practices of traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts and spiritual yoga training of Buddhists and Taoists. These methods were very similar to those of the Ayurvedic system based on the belief that disease was caused by an imbalance or deficiency of energy of various pathways. The ancient Chinese text called The Yellow Emperors Classic Book of Internal Medicine is today considered a staple of Massage Therapy and Alternative Medicine. Massage made its way to Egypt with the Egyptians adding their own bodywork techniques and are credited with developing reflexology, which involves applying pressure to specific points or zones of the feet and hands to effect healing.

Later, monks studying Buddhism in China brought massage therapy to Japan and developed another layer to be known as Shiatsu. This technique is designed to regulate and strengthen organs by rebalancing energy levels through the stimulation of pressure points in the hopes of bringing natural resistance to illness. The Egyptians influenced the Greeks and Romans who used massage in different ways. Doctors often applied herbs and oils in combination with massage to treat various medical conditions. Hippocrates, the 'father of medicine' treated physical injuries using a combination of massage, natural foods, nature, fresh air and music to restore health, practices we still use today.

Touch therapies have the potential to transform the practice of medicine. The science of touch convincingly suggests that we are wired to and need to connect to other people on a basic physical level. Touch provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human. In his fascinating book "The Body Keeps the Score" Bessel Van Der Kolk explores scientific research into yoga, massage and traditional techniques (psychomotor & neurofeedback therapy) on how the body and brain operate. He explains that our stories, emotional scars and histories can be re-shaped and re-observed. That we have the ability to regulate our own physiology through simple activities such as breathing, movement and touch. Science show that people are able to communicate a wider range of emotions through touch than through words.

Therapeutic touch has been shown to activate the brains obrito frontal cortex which is linked with feelings of compassion. It is involved in vagual nerve pathways, switching the sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight) to our parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) central to our sense of wellbeing.

Therapeutic touch give us some relief from our emotional, physical & psychological trauma. It promotes a sense of self and allows us to reconnect. On a really simple level, massage allows the much needed space to nourish ourselves, that is where the gold lies.

Hope to treat you soon.

~ Jodie ~

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