The Power of Touch
Why a massage could be boost for your overall health
Kris Carpenter | Sanctuary Spa & Salon
If you’ve ever experienced a massage you know it’s pure magic. Even the slightest touch can send you to another world of relaxation. But have you ever wondered why that massage has the power to melt away your stress or why a facial or other spa treatment can leave you feeling great for hours? The answer is in the power of touch.
“Massage brings a lot of awareness to your own body, and people don’t always take the time to tune into their bodies,” said Shereena Old Elk, a massage therapist at Sanctuary Spa and Salon.
Shereena has been practicing massage for 16 years and believes that touch has healing power. She’s seen her clients leave her massage studio standing taller and walking with more ease. With the stress lifted, their bodies show relief without them saying a word.
The power of touch goes beyond massage. It’s a universal language, and one touch can soothe, comfort and convey caring in a way words never can. However, our social norms here in the United States don’t allow for much touch by people other than those we live with, and since social distancing has become the norm, touch is even harder to come by. It’s no wonder a trip to the salon or a massage appointment can have a long-lasting impact.
The physical effects of touch are far-reaching.
The tender touch of others can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and regulate levels of cortisol, a hormone that floods your system in times of stress. Touch also helps release dopamine and serotonin, which are called “feel-good hormones” because they promote positive feelings of wellbeing. Studies have also shown that touch boosts the immune system and can help in healing both physical and mental trauma.
Shereena was an athlete in high school and competed in track and field. During the season she was training hard and overdid it. She could hardly walk when her coach brought in a massage therapist to help. Shereena’s muscles were too tender and sensitive for a traditional massage, but the therapist held firm pressure on her legs and with a gentle stroke the pain went away. Shereena was 16 at the time, and the experience made her want to become a massage therapist.
“I learned that touch was a powerful force and I wanted to be a part of that,” Shereena said.
Touch is perhaps our most basic need, and much research has been done to understand it’s impacts. Touch is the first of the five senses to develop in infants, and premature babies who were tenderly touched head to toe multiple times a day gained more weight than those who were not touched as much. Dementia patients experienced less anxiety and depression when they experienced more touch from caregivers, and tender touch has shown to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) allowing kids to concentrate better. It’s even been found that the right kind of touch can help kids with autism relate better to teachers and family members. A study of NBA players showed that teams with high touch – think fist bumps, high fives, and huddles – performed better than teams with less touch.
Our skin makes up 20 percent of our bodies, and it is our largest, most sensitive organ. It’s no wonder touch plays such an important role in our health. It’s something to consider the next time you lay down for a massage or take a seat in the hair stylist’s chair. You’re not just indulging in a spa service, you’re supporting your health.
Sanctuary Spa and Salon is now booking appointments for a variety of treatments. To make an appointment – for your health - call 406-655-1701 or click to make your appointment today.