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Making Sense of Touch

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

Touch is one of the most primitive sensory feelings to all life. When life began on Earth, the simplest living forms communicated by touch. Their survival in the harsh conditions depended on this sense alone. Later as life evolved, smell and other senses developed and made survival easier. Today, billions of years since that evolution, touch remains a cornerstone, essential to all existence and survival. Humans are the most complex forms of life and touch is vital to our survival, wellness and healthy functioning.

All human touch (data and information) is processed in the primary somatosensory cortex located in the top middle area (parietal lobe) of our brain. Sensory receptors for touch, which react to stimuli, cover all parts of our body but are mostly located in our palms and face.

Studies have shown that deprivation of touch can lead newborns and infants to struggle for survival in the first year. (Source: Bowlby, J., 1986, "Maternal Care and Mental Health" (PDF)). Many of them succumb to diseases and death as lack of touch hampers brain development, weight increase, growth and immunity. The benefit of touch to all living beings is physical, biological, psychological, social and even communicative.

It is because of these reasons and other scientific observations that most of
complementary alternative medicines and alternative therapies are touch-based therapies. Reflexology, massage, biofeedback, meridian therapy, chiropractic, shiastu, sujok, and many more rely heavily on touch to channel the life energy (chi or pranana) and magnetic field of the human body. Here is a brief look at what the touch can do for us:

Health Benefits of Touch
1. Chronic Pain Conditions – Patients suffering from painful conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraines showed a marked decrease in pain units during the course of touch therapy with massage. This is proof of the therapeutic benefits of touch.
2. Tackling Physical Injury – Have you noticed that our first and automatic reflex to getting impact injuries is to hold the hurt area or to massage it or rub/stroke it? This is nature’s first and intended method of self-healing.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.