The Power of Touch


We all know that after a massage we feel better.   We might say it’s because of the therapeutic effect of working the knots out of the muscles, and while that is part of the appeal, the other part that is not talked about much, is the power of touch.  Why do we look forward to the yoga instructor’s adjustments or light touch at the end of class, or feel better after receiving a hug?  

The answer is touch.

“The right kind (of touch) can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels, stimulate the hippocampus (an area of the brain that is central to memory), and drive the release of a host of hormones and neuropeptides that have been linked to positive and uplifting emotions. The physical effects of touch are far-reaching.”   

The leading touch researcher, Dr. Tiffany Fields, has conducted studies on the social and behavioral impact of touch.   Her study with elderly participants showed that those who received massage and social visits saw greater emotional and cognitive benefits than those who only received social visits, thus showing the importance of not only the need for social interaction, but also human touch.   

Fields has found similar results in “both premature and full-term infants, pregnant women, children and adults with chronic pain and emotional problems, and even health adults.”   Her studies have concluded that even short instances of touch (15 minutes per day) have resulted in emotional, physical, and cognitive gains in adults.

To sum it up…

  • Touch is essential to the human experience. 
  • Touch can impact anxiety, depression, stress, and the nervous system.
  • Infants have developmental delays associated with touch deprivation.
  • Massage decreases symptoms of PTSD among military veterans.
  • Touch trains neural pathways – safe, therapeutic touch re-trains the brain to predict safe interactions.
  • While yoga has been shown to be extremely beneficial for both the physical body and emotions, adding the powerful element of touch has the potential to exponentially increase positive effects for the mind and body.


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