Earlier this month, I wrote about giving a loving massage to your Valentine. In that I wrote that your intentions will be revealed through your touch. An article this week in the New York Times illustrates some recent research into how deep this language of touch goes.
The article cites research that correlates higher student performance to the frequency of reassuring touches to the arm or back by the teacher. Patients perceived the length of time spent in a doctor’s office was longer when they were touched sympathetically by the physician. There is other research mentioned in the article that blindfolded subjects were able to identify up to eight different emotions expressed only through touch. This is powerful stuff.
According to the Times article, research is currently being done to correlate touch to team athletic performance. The research being conducted at the University of California, Berkley has cataloged each expression of touch in every game played in the National Basketball Association 2009 season. Early evidence points to the higher performing teams demonstrated more touches like high fives, hugs, fist pounds and chest bumps. Studies have shown that supportive touch can reduce the production of cortisol, a hormone produced when under stress, and increase the hormone oxytocin which is related to the perception of trust.
Try this for your self. Here’s an experiment that I do on a regular basis ever since becoming a massage therapist. The next time you are in the check out line at the grocery store, when you had the cashier your cash or debit card, try to make contact with your fingers to their fingers, in an ever so slight brush or touch so that it’s barely noticeable. I’ve found that every time I’ve done this, the clerk relaxes ever so slightly, smiles more, looks me in the eye, or somehow gives me an extra moment of consideration in a genuine personal connection. I’m sure they aren’t even aware of it, but I’m happy to know that the next person in line behind me is going to receive the benefit of my touch.
Paul Kulpinski, LMT