Ahhhh, there’s nothing like a good massage. This relatable sentiment goes back at least 4,000 years as humans of long ago recognized the benefits of touch and tissue manipulation. Evidence of massage as a healing practice in the ancient world can be found in India, Egypt and China.
The importance of human touch and connection may seem obvious, but we can look at some of the science behind it. Our skin is our largest organ and has been referred to as the ‘third brain’ (the gut being our ‘second brain’ ) because of the way that it is innervated with millions of sensory receptors that serve as our primary physical interface with the world. Sensory information from
the skin transmits info to the brain to affect our moods and physiology. Comfortable human touch has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing
us into a more relaxed state. This involves a shift that lowers stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
As stress hormone levels drop, other beneficial bio-chemicals
are released, such as oxytocin, the hormone responsible for trust and bonding. Serotonin and dopamine levels also go up. These are brain chemicals associated with vitality and well-being. A welcomed massage can offer positive adjustments in blood pressure, blood sugar, anxiety levels, sleep, and immunity. Besides these benefits of simply connecting through touch, there are also the therapeutic effects of actually manipulating the tissues.
A massage is arguably the best place to be in this world, but sometimes we need to rely on self-massage to hold us over. There is an acupressure point called Joining Valley (LI:4 ,He Gu) located between the base of the thumb and index finger that is easy to access and is a powerful point for moving all the qi in the body, making it great for many conditions.
Another easy but powerful self-care practice is ear massage. While gently rubbing and stretching our outer ear we are accessing a reflexology system as well as stimulating the vagus nerve, which can help with sleep, digestion, anxiety and pain.
For the simplest approach, there is always what TCM practitioners call ‘Yin touch’: just holding certain parts of the body (with love, of course) such as the belly, head, sore elbow, etc. We all have the healing power of touch whether we use it on ourselves or others.
If you’ve been relying on self- massage, it’s time to get in for a relaxing massage session, which may include some form of bodywork or massage chosen specifically for you
and and your health care needs.
FEELING OUR BEST!
The information contained within the AcuNews newsletter is only used to educate and inform. This newsletter is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed and registered health care provider. Seek prompt attention for emergencies. Consult a health care provider for specific health concerns, and before starting a diet, cleanse or exercise routine.
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