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Touch is more than just a pleasant sensation. It is a biological necessity.

Phyllis Davis, in The Power of Touch, noted that touch is one of the central experiences of an infant, whether rodent, primate or human.

“We readily think of stressors as consisting of various unpleasant things that can be done to an organism. Sometimes a stressor can be the failure to provide something for an organism, and the absence of touch is seemingly one of the most marked of developmental stressors that we can suffer.”

Tuina Massotherapy

She notes that early in the 19th century, over half of infants died during the first year of life of a disease called marasmus, a Greek word for wasting away. These deaths may actually be attributed to a devastating lack of touch and essential physical contact.

In that era, the use of a cradle to rock a child or picking them up was considered a backward practice.

Robert Sapolsky, an American neuroendocrinologist and neurosurgeon at Stanford University, who wrote Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stressrelated Diseases, and Coping, has a similar view. He says that in the 19th century, many orphanages in the United States had close to 100 percent mortality rates. Ironically, in the less wealthy orphanages, where the staff was often not up-todate on the recommendations to ignore children and never pick them up, mortality rates were lower than in the so-called better orphanages.

It is not just touch that is important. Motion is crucial to a child’s development. It has been found that movement is essential for infants, particularly when combined with touching. The rocking or touching of a baby directs impulses to the specific part of the brain that stimulates development.

We know that in cultures where there is a great deal of physical contact, where children are carried everywhere, taken everywhere their caregivers go, there is a very low level of aggression. When children are a full part of the family and given a great deal of physical contact and comforting, then there is a very low level of interpersonal violence. All children need to be held, cuddled, carried, swayed and rocked as much as possible.

Anthropologist Dr. Ashley Montagu examined touch across cultures. He summarized his work in the brilliant study, Touching: The Human Significance of The Skin. He found that the basic human need for touch was hampered by the view of early Europeans who came to North America. He noted that missionaries, teachers, and others urged Navajo mothers to give up rocking cradles, which the Europeans considered “savage”; instead, they recommended that infants should be left alone in cribs “like civilized folks.”

We now know that in normal human development, we need touch, hugs and lots of human contact.

There are many forms of touch.

It’s a powerful need. It can be used negatively in mentally manipulating someone. Think of the flirtatious touch of an arm. But it also has great positive effects.

One of the more pleasant and healing activities in which you can participate is massage. If you need scientific convincing, massage has many benefits.

When undergoing high stress, we typically don’t eat or sleep well. Our immune system falters and we become prone to things like colds and other infections and illnesses. Massage can stimulate the body to help fight infection.

Massage lessens stress itself. Massage has been shown to lower the heart rate and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

If you are prone to headaches, massage can decrease the intensity or eliminate them altogether. By helping the body’s muscles to relax, we also loosen many of the causes of headaches.

Massage is also helpful in reducing back aches and pains.

If you are pregnant, a weekly massage can help deal with the many aches and literal growing pains you are experiencing.

Once you’ve decided to go for a massage, where to start? Check to see if the practitioner is a registered massage therapist or certified Tuina therapist. Many physiotherapists are also qualified to treat you with massage and other stress relieving methods.

Tuina is a method of physical manipulation that is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It sometimes stars with a washing of the body with hot water infused with herbs.

Nothing measures up to Foot Heaven in New York where a sign in the lobby notes: “Legitimate Business: no hanky panky.” Just to be clear.

I had some heart problems a while back. A few months after, while visiting Foot Heaven, I thought the therapist was saying to me, “You’re hard of hearing.” After several attempts of both of us trying to communicate via hands and made-up-on-the-spot sign language, and much laughter between us, I realized she was saying to me, “You’re heart is healing.” How she knew this while only working on my calves and feet, I haven’t a clue, but it certainly threw me for a loop and gave me an increased respect for whatever it was she was doing that made me feel so good.

Nothing seems typical in a tuina session. The therapist may rub, kneed, roll different parts of the body, joints, muscles, or use traction wherever a “blockage” is sensed. I’ve had a flannel sheet tossed over my head while the practitioner proceeded to pound on my shoulders only to suddenly remove the sheet as hot (steaming hot) oil was poured over my back followed by deep tissue massage.

At times, I wonder if I’m being pounded by a bat or rubber mallet, although I’ve never seen one present. I think the therapist is just using a knife hand or elbow. Whatever, I always come out of it in a deep alpha-brain-wave state. Don’t tui na and drive. In fact, if you had worries when you went into your session, you’ll wonder what your fuss was about by the time you’re done.

 



Source : Kingston Region News

We All Need Human Touch
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