Why We All Need to Touch and Be Touched

Why We All Need to Touch and Be Touched

Our mind, brain, and body are not separate from each other.

Sharon K. Farber Ph.D. | The Mind-Body Connection

Being touched and touching someone else are fundamental modes of human interaction, and increasingly, many people are seeking out their own “professional touchers” and body arts teachers– chiropractors, physical therapists, Gestalt therapists, Rolfers, the Alexander-technique and Feldenkrais people, massage therapists, martial arts and T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructors. And some even wait in physicians’ offices for a physical examination for ailments that have no organic cause—they wait to be touched.

The body-oriented approaches are based on a principle that is becoming more obvious to researchers. Ken Wilbur wrote in The Spectrum of Consciousness , “For every mental ‘problem’ or ‘knot’, there is a corresponding bodily ‘knot’, and vice versa since, in fact, the body and the mind are not two. That is, psychic conflict, guilt, shame, unresolved grief all can be lodged in the body as body memories, and when the site of the psychic difficulty is deeply touched through massage or other manipulation, it can not only release the physical pain but may make the psychic pain accessible.

Soon after my mother died I developed a case of “frozen shoulder”. It causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint and often occurs for no known reason. My doctor had told me that because my shoulder was “frozen”, there must be adhesions, or scar tissue that were freezing up my shoulder joint. And probably my body lacked something called synovial fluid, needed to lubricate the shoulder joint. I asked him what. He could not tell me what caused this to happen because medicine does not really understand why. I like to understand why things happen the way they do and he could not tell me. But I was in pain. I could not sleep in the usual position I sleep in, I couldn’t reach for something on a shelf without feeling pain. He referred me for physical therapy and so I made an appointment.

As I lay on the examining table, the physical therapist came in, smiled, introduced herself and explained what she was going to do. As soon as she put her warm hands on my bare shoulder, tears welled up in my eyes. I was surprised and embarrassed and turned my head away from her gaze so that she would not see. I suspect she noticed. She continued examining me and I relaxed and found that I enjoyed it. It felt like a massage, something I am not used to having. She recommended that I come in three times a week and I had to arrange my schedule to do that. She did various exercises with me that I was advised to do at home. As I followed her instructions, I thought and felt a great deal about my mother, with whom I had a complex and ambivalent relationship. I stretched and cried, cried and stretched, wrote about what I was feeling, and after a few months I was better. The pain of my loss had lodged itself in my body, and a woman’s warm touch started to release it. It also probably released some oxytocin in me, the hormone of love and attachment. As I mourned her loss over several months, I realized something. I had had a hard time crying for my mother, whom I loved very much but whom I was angry with too. When there are difficulties in mourning a loss, somatic or psychological difficulties may present themselves. The body speaks when we do not have words for what we are feeling. The therapist’s warm touch on my shoulder was lubrication for my soul, needed for me to let go and feel the loss, complicated and ambivalent as it was.

Treatment that uses direct touch can have a depth and potency that can have a great therapeutic impact, which provides some explanation for why so many people are seeking out their own “professional touchers” or are filling the waiting rooms of physicians, waiting for the doctor to find the cause of the pain and make them better. In the process, they are touched. When the patient is assured that the work of the professional toucher is free from infringement, that sexual contact is clearly out of bounds, and that the patient can say “no” to any intervention the body-work practioner proposes, then the patient can have the experience of trust and physical touch in the context of a controlled respectful relationship.

Nature is so intelligent for creating oxytocin, the hormone of love and attachment. Kerstin Uvnas Moberg became a world authority on ocytocin through her personal experience. When she was pregnant, delivered, and nursed her four children, she was struck by feeling a state of mind so different from the stress she was used to in connection with life’s other challenges. Wanting to understand this scientifically, she learned that there is a key biological marker—oxytocin—that can explain this sense of calm and connectedness in pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, and through this research, discovered that oxytocin is able to influence many vital operations in the body. Her research showed that the level of oxytocin in the blood during nursing was correlated with the mothers’ subjective experiences of calmness, and ability to interact with their babies. Oxytocin stimulates growth during pregnancy and stimulates the uterus to expel the newborn It restores the balance between stress and calm It stimulates the muscle activity of orgasm (in both men and women) and can strengthen the attachment bond. We are told that “oxytocin is with us throughout our lives.” She wrote that

When you were born, oxytocin helped expel you from your mother’s womb and made it possible for her to nurse you..As a small child, you enjoyed your mother’s and father’s loving touch because it released oxytocin in your body. As an adult, you experience the effects of oxytocin when you enjoy good food, or a massage, or an intimate interlude with your romantic partner (Uvnas Moberg 2003, p. 65).

If you’d like to learn more about oxytocin, read Uvnas Moberg’s book The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love, and Healing.

When people lack love and touch in their lives this can result in bodily self harm, such as in eating disorders or self-mutilation. If you’d like to learn more about this and about “professional touchers” , read my book, When the Body Is the Target: Self-Harm, Pain, and Traumatic Attachments.

Source : Psychology Today

Repetitive Strain Injuries and Massage Therapy

For those suffering with a Repetitive Strain Injury, there is no question that, conservative therapy is the best option.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can also be called tenosynovitis or chronic tendinopathy by your doctor. Tendinitis happens when you repeat a motion frequently on tight tissues and when the rate of damage exceeds your body’s natural rate of repair. From Trigger Finger to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, conservative therapy produces the best results, quicker results, and long-lasting relief.

There are many types of conservative treatments with a variety of positive benefits. Massage Therapy is a wonderful conservative treatment providing good results by itself, and even greater results when combined with a stretch and exercise routine.

Massage helps relax and lengthen tight, restricted muscles. It helps break down scar tissue in injured muscles, reduce adhesions (an abnormal union of membranous surfaces due to inflammation or injury) on affected tendons at their point of attachment to the muscle or to the bone. Massage helps remove toxins from muscles and increase overall circulation and nutrient delivery to the associated tissues. All of these wonderful benefits help overworked muscles to relax and injured muscles begin to heal.

Massage Therapy, even with all of its benefits, sadly, does not correct the muscle imbalances causing the Repetitive Strain Injury. Although Massage Therapy can greatly assist the rehabilitation process, once a muscle has been injured and has atrophied to any significant degree, other therapeutic elements must be added to the treatment schedule in order to completely eliminate the Repetitive Strain Injury.

An essential part of treating any Repetitive Strain Injury is a stretch and exercise routine. One that is specifically designed to create structural integrity and muscle balance at the injury site. By creating strong flexible muscles surrounding the specific joint, that joint will no longer be as susceptible to Repetitive Strain Injuries.

According to Mr. Anliker (Therapist and Inventor of Therapeutic Exercise Products for the prevention and rehabilitation of repetitive strain injuries) the integration of Massage Therapy, stretches, exercises and hydrotherapy is a highly effective treatment protocol for many types of injuries. An example of a treatment sequence for a ‘chronic injury’ should follow along these lines:

. Hydrotherapy Heat – Heat to increase circulation to the area, making the soft tissues relaxed and pliable.

. Massage Phase-I – Specific massage treatment utilizing Trigger Point Release techniques to release muscle spasm and Transverse Friction Massage to break down adhesions.

. Stretch – Stretch overly restrictive tissues to increase their length and reduce their compression of underlying tissues.

. Exercise – Perform strengthening exercises for the affected tissues in order to reduce tensile strain on the injured area, heal micro-tears and increase healing nutrients to the injured area. Strong muscles create stability and prevent future reoccurrence of micro-tears to a previously affected area.

. Massage Phase-II – Perform light Petrissage and Effleurage towards the heart to remove the toxins created from undergoing Trigger Point Release, Transverse Friction Massage, stretches, and exercises.

. Hydrotherapy Cold – Cool the injured tissues in an elongated position as to not lose range-of-motion (ROM) of the affected tissues and to further remove toxins from the area.

Massage Therapy along with the techniques above are very effective in eliminating chronic Repetitive Strain Injuries. Any one element by itself is useful, but by implementing several conservative techniques, the success rate of the treatment increases dramatically.

Offering Effective Conservative Massage Therapy @ Zen Massage in Salt Lake City.

References 

Why Deep-Tissue Massage?

Why Deep-Tissue Massage?

massage-389716_1920If you’ve never had a deep-tissue massage, you may be wondering why you would choose this particular type of therapy. It can be a little uncomfortable as opposed to other types of massages such as a Swedish massage, so what are the benefits?

During a deep-tissue massage, a therapist will concentrate on deeper layers of the muscle. By using firm pressure and deeper strokes, the therapist stimulates blood flow and reduces inflammation, creating a viable treatment option for a variety of ailments.

Reduces Pain

Perhaps the most common condition deep-tissue massage is sought to relieve is chronic pain. Because inflammation is the source of most pain, this type of treatment can prove very effective. Loosening tightened muscles that often accompany the pain also helps to alleviate tension and strain.

Alleviates Depression

Often depression accompanies chronic pain, and deep-tissue massage will stimulate release of hormones that will positively affect the brain. Although most any type of massage will help with symptoms of depression, deep-tissue massage is thought to be most effective.

Improves the Appearance of Scars

Over time, deep tissue massage can effectively break down scar tissue and cause it to disintegrate entirely. If the scar tissue is internal, a deep-tissue massage will help to loosen the tissue to improve stiffness and pain.

Speeds Recovery

Because it does aid in the breaking down of scar tissue, it’s a much-recommended therapy for patients after surgery. It also stimulates lymphatic production, further improving flexibility and eliminating toxins from the body, aiding in quick recovery and rehabilitation. For this reason, it’s a popular treatment among body builders to speed muscle recovery times and prevent injury.

Alleviates Repetitive Strain Injury

Painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome can be relieved or prevented altogether with consistent deep tissue massage.

In Conclusion

All types of massage will benefit your body in some way, but deep-tissue massage is most recommended for the conditions listed above. For questions about what type of massage is right for you, feel free to give us a call. We can custom tailor a treatment plan to fit your particular needs.

Sleep Benefits of Massage Therapy

Sleep Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy for InsomniaDo you have trouble falling and staying asleep? Do you find yourself staring at the clock half the night and wondering what it would be like to catch a solid 8 hours of z’s?

If so, you’re not alone. One out of every ten people on this planet reportedly take prescription sleep aids to combat their sleep problems.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that lack of sleep causes increased anxiety and moodiness, but did you also know that it can affect your health?

When our bodies are deprived of the rest they need, hormones become unbalanced and blood pressure increases causing possible health problems such as cardiovascular issues and diabetes. These issues themselves, ironically, also lead to sleep problems.

It’s a vicious cycle!

Pinpointing the cause could be helpful in controlling the problem, but there is one natural solution that could very possibly help you to sleep no matter what the reason.

Massage therapy.

Getting regular massages can help with most issues causing you unrest.

For Insomnia Caused by Chronic Pain

If pain is what is keeping you up all hours, massage therapy could definitely be your solution. Most chronic pain is either muscle or nerve related, and massage therapy helps to alleviate both. Regular massages will help to relax your muscles, thereby helping your body achieve a natural alignment, reducing most nerve pain.

For Insomnia Caused by Stress

Massage causes your body to release serotonin to the brain which is a natural anti-depressant. This combined with the relaxation factor of the massage, puts your body and mind into a more natural state of euphoria, lowering stress levels significantly.

For Insomnia Caused by Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are tricky. Any area of unbalance in the body can cause fluctuations that can cause weight gain, hair loss, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and a whole host of other affliction. Massage therapy is shown to aid the body in releasing certain hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, triggering emotions in the brain that cause a more relaxed environment for the entire body. Relieving stress alone can stabilize many hormone deficiencies.

Don’t let another sleepless night plague your health and your emotions. Book a massage today and let us help you to achieve a more natural state of relaxation!