Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: May 2018

The healing power of light touch

Resent research has shown that there are approximately six times the number of sensory nerve endings in our fascia then there are in our muscles. So, when you think you have muscle soreness after exercising, it is probably fascial soreness. When you stretch your muscles, you're really sensing the stretch sensation in your fascia.

There is only one type of nerve ending in muscles. Muscle spindles monitor the length of muscle fibers and the rate at which they stretch. On the other hand, fascia, the mesh-like connective tissue that envelops everything inside our bodies, contains many different specialized sensory endings. These nerve endings work to measure load placed on the tissue, monitor pressure, and measure the shear forces between fascial tissues. Fascia also has free nerve terminals that sense pain.

It is still unknown what makes these nerve endings report pain to the brain. It might be too much pressure, being overstretched, dehydration, inflammation, or any number of speculative causes. What we do know is that perceptions of pain vary from person to person. Research has recently found a set of pathways called interoceptors that dictate how we feel about what we feel. Many interceptors in the fascia go to the brain's insula in the limbic system, which regulates your feelings about various sensations. Touch, for example, may be perceived as nurturing and calming, or agitating and unwanted. It has been found that light touch calms and soothes the nervous system, whereas deep touch can elicit feelings of pain.

This is not to say that deep work doesn't have its place in massage. It is often very beneficial to work deep underlying layers of tissue. But this should not discount the nurturing and comforting effects of lighter touch, which can play an important role in a massage session.

In our world of online communication and interactions, our society is deprived of healing, restorative touch. Light touch is needed not only in a massage session, but also in our daily interactions with friends and loved ones. It is the missing ingredient in calming our overactive nervous systems, grounding us, and nurturing our bodies and minds.

Source: Thomas Myers, Massage Magazine, April 2018

Holding hands reduces pain

A recent study that illustrates the article above showed that simply holding hands with a loved one has the power to reduce physical pain.

The study involved 22 heterosexual couples who had been together for at least a year. "The women either sat holding hands with their partners, sat nearby but did not touch them, or were in a different room." The women were then subjected to mild pain as the incident was repeated. Brain scans were take in both scenarios.

The women holding hands with their partners reported an average of 34 percent decrease in pain intensity. "The brain scans showed that when the couples held hands, their brain waves became synchronized - and that this 'coupling' effect was even greater when the women were in pain."

The lead author Pavel Goldsteing, from the University of Colorado Boulder, stated, "We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world, and we have fewer physical interactions. This [research] illustrates the power and importance of human touch."

How to ease stomach pain and bloating with a simple self massage

Speaking of light, soothing touch, here is a gentle abdominal self massage you can do to alleviate stomach pain and discomfort, bloating, or distention.

Stomach problems are often caused by or exacerbated by stress and anxiety. Follow along with this soothing abdominal self massage and get relief in only 10 minutes. After this video, not only will your stomach feel better, but your whole body will be relaxed and calm.

What's new with me ...

Spring is in the air! I am delighted to be out in the warm sunshine, and Sienna is elated to be running around in the playground!

Sienna stayed with her grandparents for a few days over spring break which gave Jesse and I a mini vacation. We did novel things like going out to eat, seeing a movie, and sleeping in. It was lovely, but we were glad to have our spunky five-year-old back with us again.

My second 20th birthday is coming up. Actually, it isn't for another month, but I wanted to give you all plenty of time to shop and prepare. I'm nice that way ;)

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